Recycling Twist

People join a local online group to give away items they no longer need, and to get things they do need.

Teva Ingrassia is a member of freecycle, an online network of some three-point-four million people in hometowns across America. They give and get stuff for free.

"I've been involved with freecycle for about two years and we've gotten everything from the smallest toy For our son to furniture for our living room, exercise equipment, really broad range of items," says Ingrassia.

The goal of the freecycle network is to create a worldwide "gifting" movement in order to keep usable items out of landfills.

Membership is free. Just go to to look for your local group, register, and soon you'll be receiving e-mails telling you what's "offered," what's "wanted," and what has been "taken."

You'll find everything from clothes to electronics, exercise equipment, and furniture.

Consumer Reports says there are some important safeguards you should use. Limit how much personal information you give out. And it's a good idea when delivering an item to arrange to meet in a public place instead of your home.

Consumer Reports' Kim Kleman says the network appears to be catching on, with members in more than four-thousand U.S. communities and abroad.

"Freecycle can be a great way to get what you need and to save money. Be aware that the flood of e-mails can be overwhelming," says Kleman.

Subscribing to the site's daily digest, a bundle of 25 messages, can ease e-mail overload. But you might miss something you're looking for, too.

"The list is monitored by volunteers. There aren't a lot of rules, but the rules that exist are taken seriously. For example, you have to give, as well as receive."

Consumer Reports says one tip for successful freecycling, make your first posting something to give away.

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