An online antidote to a throwaway society
Acream-coloured toilet and matching wash basin, a pair of Thomas the Tank Engine slippers, an upright piano, a set of Ford Fiesta MK III seat covers, some pipe tobacco boxes and a parrot's cage.
No, not the contents of a particularly surreal Generation Game conveyor belt but proof positive that you really can get something for nothing – even though you might not necessarily want it.
There are odds and ends and occasional gems going begging on the Leicestershire Freeuse website.
Freeuse, started by North West Leicestershire District Council a couple of years ago and now expanded to cover the whole of the county – is a sort of owtfornowt.com.
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If you've got something you don't want, you put it up on the site.
If someone out wants it, they get in touch and take it off your hands. For nothing.
If there's something you want, you can also post a request for it on Freeuse.
Rather than sling something in a skip, you give it away. That's the big idea behind Freeuse – an online antidote to our throwaway society.
It matches the needy with the givey to stop stuff – lots and lots of stuff – being dumped.
Twenty tonnes of items have been saved from landfill by people giving them away through the website in the past six months alone, according to Leicestershire County Council's waste prevention adviser Sally Kilbourne.
"People from more than 100 different towns and villages across Leicestershire have used the Freeuse," says Sally.
"We get 400 different visitors on the site every day."
Freeuse, launched in June 2008 by officers from North West Leicestershire District Council, was rolled out across the county by other councils under the Leicestershire Waste Partnership banner last year.
Modelled on the similar Freecycle site, it taps into a growing trend for freebie websites.
Look hard enough and the canny green bargain-hunter can find dozens of online outlets groaning with giveaways or stuff that can be swapped.
Many are free to use and are divided into postcode areas to help you find stuff close to you. The only cost comes from petrol getting the stuff home.
Such websites have been booming since the economic downturn began to bite, reckons Professor Cary Cooper of Lancaster University.
They are also, he claims, part of a growing desire to get away from the worst excesses of consumerism and reconnect with our caring, sharing sides.
"This is a return to the bartering society," says the professor of psychology and health. "These sites are virtual communities. It is also a rejection of materialism. Those who use these sites are turning their backs on the me-me age."
The benefits of Freeuse in the county are there for all to see.
"We're always looking to reduce waste and this is a good way of doing it," says Sally. "Items get a new lease of life with a new owner and they are potentially saved from landfill.
"There is a hierarchy in terms of what we want to do: Reduce, reuse and recycle.
"Recycling is good but the more we can reuse the better."
Anyone who doesn't have access to the internet still can make use of the Freeuse website. If you've got something to giveaway, you can call the site on 01530 454592 and give them details of the item.