Here’s a NY Times piece on the much-discussed topic of happiness studies: Consumers Find Ways to Spend Less and Find Happiness. It starts off with a heart-warming vignette about a woman who reduces her personal belongings to a toothbrush and one shoe, discovering nirvana thereby. Perhaps I exaggerate, but she does get rid of a lot of stuff, and her story gives me the opportunity to tell you about the excellent Freecycle.
You probably already know that you could sell some of the crap in your basement on eBay. I would even say you can sell a surprising amount of it, considering how crappy that stuff in your basement is. But there’s a problem. You have to do a lot of work to make a listing on eBay, and you have to worry about your reputation, and really, you might as well just leave all that crap in the basement. PLEASE NOTE: I know it’s not actually hard to sell stuff on eBay. But if you’re as lazy as I am, it feels that way.
Freecycle is a simple concept wrapped around 5000 or so affiliated Yahoo Groups, each based in a different location. It’s like Craiglist for free stuff. What you do is describe what you want to be rid of, and someone shows up and takes it away. No money changes hands. Say, for example, you lived in Winston-Salem, North Carolina and you wanted to get rid of your Patagonian Donkey Harmonica. You would end up on this page, join the group, and post a message with the words: “OFFER: Patagonian Donkey Harmonica.” And, here’s the really great part, someone will come and take it off your hands.
I’ve got too much stuff in my house. It’s not very valuable, and I can’t be bothered to sell it anyway. It makes me feel really good to get rid of something and know that it’s doing somebody else some good. We use it all the time. It’s particularly good for moving kid-related stuff out the front door once your kids are done with it. There’s no eBay reputation to manage, but you get plenty of soul-enriching karma and a cleaner basement. I call that win-win.