Freecycle Cairo: Who Says There’s no Free Lunch?

Cairo's Garbage City

Okay, so maybe you won’t get a free lunch, but if you become part of a small but growing number of people who are members of Cairo’s Freecycle Network, you could get a toaster, a couch, cutlery, or even lightly-used clothes – for free. Really, the sky’s the limit, and it doesn’t cost a single piastre to join.

Are you leaving Egypt and looking to give the belongings you’ve accumulated a new home? Post it on the shiny new Freecycle Cairo Facebook page, save a newcomer piles of cash, and spare Egypt’s deeply distressed environment. And if you don’t think this small gesture counts, consider this: the international Freecycle community diverts 500 tons of trash from global landfills every day.

Freecycle Cairo – the beginning

Norwegian graduate student Maikki Fonneløp started the Freecycle Cairo Facebook page on June 28, 2012.

“Dearest future users,” she wrote on the newly-minted wall. “When I decided to donate all my houseware items to other expats in Cairo, I received emails from people telling me how great it was that I started a freecycle. That wasn’t my intention, I just wanted to offer my short-term used items to people who were in need for them, to help decrease the massive consumerism and over-production our planet can’t afford.”

“I wish someone had started this when I moved to Cairo,” Maikki added. “So here it is, the page for you all to share your used items! We have a similar page in Oslo, Norway, where people successfully trade their stuff. This is their little sister in Cairo.”

What is the Freecycled community? On May 1st, 2003, Deron Beal sent out a message to about 30 friends and family, as well as a handful of non-profit organizations in Tucson, Arizona, announcing that he had started The Freecycle Network. After trying to secure goods for underprivileged members of the community as part of his work for the non-profit organization RISE, he decided to streamline the system.

And it worked. Not only that, but the initiative has spread to 85 countries with a total of 5,046 groups and 8,943,789 members! If one were to make a pile of “stuff” diverted that is from global landfills through this system in one year, it would be five times higher than the world’s highest mountain – Mt. Everest at 29,035 ft.

Free stuff is cool and the Moneyless Man

The Freecycle Network was registered in the United States a 501(c)3 in November,2006, and the official Cairo group started in September, 2005. Of the 84.5 million or so people living in Egypt, only 367 are members. But that could change if the group’s Facebook presence gains ground. In one day, 51 people have already “Liked” the page.

Getting free stuff is cool, and don’t think it’s only junk. Mark Boyle (a.k.a. The Moneyless Man) who has survived without money for more than two years lives in a caravan that he obtained through his local Freecycle community in the U.K. In addition to promoting community engagement and generosity, freecycling is a very effective waste management tool.

We recently posted a video of the pollution that surrounds the Giza pyramids – a pervasive burden that the Zabaleen can’t (and shouldn’t) shoulder alone. Freecycle Cairo is one antidote. Want to know how to reduce trash? Stop throwing stuff away. Give it away and feel good about it too.

More on Waste Management and Recycling on Green Prophet:

Video: Giza Pyramids Pollution and What the Brochures Don’t Show

Zabaleen Film Portrays  Cairo’s Garbage City People

Recycling Tires Can Rid Egypt of Fumes, Mosquitoes and Rats

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