Have you ever wanted to get rid of something but felt guilty about taking up space in a landfill? Have you ever just wanted to clean out that back room but really didn't want to make the trip to haul away the "junk?" The old adage, "One man's trash is another man's treasure," has found a home. Freecycle. When you freecycle you get online and offer your "junk," then someone who needs it contacts you and picks it up. No landfill, no trip to the junkyard, and you've given that piece of "junk" a second chance. Not only are you reducing waste, you are also helping to save resources.

Five years ago a group in Tucson, Arizona began an online group designed to give new life to items they no longer needed. It started with about 30 or 40 friends and a few non-profit organizations. Today freecycle groups are available in more than 85 countries, to more than six million people around the world. The goal is to build a worldwide gift economy that can help people through difficult times, but also to change our perceptions. We don't have to be a disposable society. If you don't need something any more, freecycle can help you find someone who does need it.

There are just a few steps involved in getting started with freecycling. First, visit www.freecycle.org to find a group in your area. Understand that just as is implied by the title, membership is free. Some cities are so large that there may be more than one group. Usually the larger cities are divided into smaller geographic areas, ie. Dallas and North Dallas.

Once you join a group, you can review the types of items that are being offered. There is a strict protocol for posting on these sites. Manners and politeness are required in your communications to continue to be a member, and do take routine precautions to protect your privacy. Each site has slightly different rules about posting offers and on occasion "wants." Yes, it is ok to ask for items that you need, but most sites ask that those be the exceptions.

After acquainting yourself with the etiquette and processes of the site, feel free to participate. So don't hesitate, post an offer for that large queen-sized box spring that is taking up space in the garage. You'll be surprised how quickly it disappears.