So far in my challenge to find out whether the best things in life really do come for free, I have sampled foraged foods and searched for free activities to do in the UK. I’ve attended local community events and uncovered a raft of free music festivals which are happening this summer I had no idea existed before.
But this week I have a new task. My mission is to find items I can source for nothing. Whenever we need something – a present or an item for the house – for many of us, and I include myself, it’s automatic to think we need to hit the shops or look online for something to buy. Being a consumer has become second nature to us and it’s customary to feel that we need to spend a certain amount on someone or something for the purchase to be good enough. But does it always have to be like this?
A couple I know managed to kit most of their first home out in furniture reclaimed from skips and the local dump. It was a few years ago before recycling websites such as Freecycle and Freegle had really got off the ground, and at the time it raised a few eyebrows, but the furniture was fine and mostly matched too, which surprised me. However, visiting my local recycling plant over the weekend, I can see how they did it. I was amazed by some of the items people had thrown away. There were two perfectly good kitchen chairs perched on top of one of the skips. Neither of them had a mark on them. DJ and I were at a loss as to why they had been thrown away. Next to them was a matching bookcase, which was also in good condition. Presumably somebody had upgraded their kitchen or dining room furniture and had thrown out the unwanted items, but it’s a shame they hadn’t found a better home for them. If I’d been furnishing a new place, I would have been tempted to take them home but we have all the furniture we need. I hope an enterprising individual stumbles across them and finds a place for them.
I’ve come to realise that my local recycling plants are worth keeping an eye on. Besides the opportunity to source household items for free, one of our plants held a special day recently where they gave away free compost made from local residents’ garden waste. Unfortunately I missed the event but given that DJ is always after compost for the garden, it’s something I’m keeping tabs on as they plan to run another free compost day again soon.
Meanwhile, I’ve discovered that our local chapter of Freecycle is a mine of unusual free stuff. I get several emails from them each week and have given away unwanted items on there myself, but I haven’t looked at them for some time. This week I had a good read. True, there are the clapped out sofas and junk, but there are also some intriguing things. This week somebody is giving away dark room equipment they no longer want. There are also some useful gardening items too, such as a mini plastic greenhouse and wood to make a raised bed. Other people were asking to borrow items, such as a gazebo for a fete, which I thought was a great idea. Why bother buying something like that if you only need it for a short time and somebody in the community can help you out?
It makes me think that some of these websites are probably a good place to source items for a new hobby you want to try out, as long as you have the relevant know-how to check that they are in working order. Just reading through the messages gave me some new hobby inspiration.
Have you sourced furniture or other items, such as hobby equipment for free? How successful has it been? Leave a message and let me know.
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