When my husband and I married we were both college students and money was always earmarked for the books, lab fees, and tuition – furniture and household items were either hand-me-downs or finds.  We furnished our first home at Oklahoma State University from grandma’s toss-aways and things found on the curb.  When I think back our little house on Ramsey Street was a delight.  The porch had a swing that was made from an old bedstead, planks found on the curb and cushions we found leaning up  against someone’s garbage can.  Our bed was a cotton mattress from Grandma’s and the frame was decorative concrete blocks and plywood base – both found in the trash at a building site.

Many communities have programs where you put gently used and loved items on the curb for people to claim and take home.  There are things you should know before you go picking up everything on the curb.  You might want to think twice before picking up upholstered items, especially if they have been stored in a place that was wet or damp.  Mold or pests could be problems if you bring those items into your home. If you are a real DIY person maybe the bones of the chair or sofa are sound you can strip it and re-pad and re-cover.

There are programs in some communities like FreeCycle a non-profit community driven network that has as its mission reuse and keeping good stuff out of landfills. You can also start your own curb-alert program in your neighborhood.  The urban dictionary defines a curb-alert program as  a community network that facilitates a list or website that alerts participants of the presence of items such as furniture, appliances, toys, or garden items left outside a home that are free for the taking.  You can start your own Curb-Alert network in your community, but do check with your local community regulations or Home Owners Association (HOA).

You can also start a neighborhood share-fair where you have a specific date where everyone sets out in their driveway, or front yard, the things they want to giveaway.  I suggest you have different themes for different times of the year – such as the start of school for kids clothes, December for toys or bicycles, spring for garden items, and early summer for camping or beach items.

Free book, movie, puzzle or game share programs are another way to recycle items that you no longer want.  Think about all the books, games, building block sets, video games, and DVDs you have stashed in a closet.  Now think about how nice it would be to free up that space.

Okay….start clearing out and SHARE your STUFF.

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