Freecycling Gets a Boost from Oodle's Online Marketplace

Oodle, a social networking marketplace, is helping to facilitate "freecycling" in the San Francisco Bay Area.

Freecycling helps reduce the flow of waste to landfills by encouraging neighbors to give unwanted but reusable household items to each other instead of throwing them away. Freecycling has been in practice across the US for more than a decade, facilitated by e-mail user groups and forums.

Oodle, which claims to have 13 million unique monthly visitors on its online marketplace, is adding functionality called "FreeCircles" which allows local residents to offer free items to each other, search among available items, or request something specific.

Oodle is introducing tools to help moderators of existing Freecycle, ReUseIt, FullCircles, Freegle, and other freecycling groups on Yahoo! Groups. They can now grow their membership using Oodle’s "Promote My Group" feature. The functionality publicizes the group’s listings to local Facebook and Oodle users, customers of Recology, and users of Earth911’s directory.

The average American throws out 1,600 pounds of stuff each year, according to the US EPA. Mixed in with the trash are reusable items of all sorts – from computers and couches, to old doors and building materials.

When you give an old couch to a neighbor, you not only keep 100 pounds from a landfill, but you also save the 3,200 pounds of waste that would have gone into making a new couch, says Paul Hawken, author of Natural Capital and Blessed Unrest, among other books.

"Finding a way to reuse items you no longer need, before you start thinking about disposal, is always an environmentally sound choice," says Barry Monheit, CEO of Earth911.com, which hosts a directory with over 1 million ways to recycle and was one of Oodle’s beta test partner at the start of FreeCircles. "Before you throw something away, you should take a minute to post it to your local FreeCircle to let your neighbors know it’s available."

Recology, which provides recycling services to residential and commercial customers in the San Francisco Bay Area and over 80 municipalities in the West, says it will promote freecycling to its customers. Recology will also help administer more than a dozen local FreeCircles.

Oodle plans to expand to other US cities, Canada and the UK.

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