Reuse, Recycle, and Recount: The Freecycle Network Tracks Free Items

Freecycle's whole mission is about keeping good stuff out of the landfill for reuse. This Tuscon-based organization has taken this task on with a vengeance. Freecycle has over 10,000 volunteers in 110 countries. The online network is responsible for listing about 25,000 free items daily, around 1,000 tons of stuff a day, which is about the size of a midsized landfill. That's 14 times the height of Mount Everest in usable items every year and one less landfill on the planet.

How can so much be accomplished with so little manpower? It's all because of the good software and the technology support they have, part of which is Intuit's QuickBooks, obtained as a donation via TechSoup. With a very small budget and a few hundred dollars for new software, this donation was very useful. Now the dedicated staff is able to allocate their meager resources toward Freecycle's engineering backbone to further its reach.

A lot of small nonprofits like Freecycle couldn't do it without the thoughtfulness of Intuit. And the thoughtful admiration goes both ways. Intuit liked the Freecycle concept so much that the company designed and now hosts a Freecycle-inspired internal business tool for over a thousand large companies. If one department has too many staplers, staff can offer them to other departments who need them. Or if another department seeks an extra file cabinet, it can request it from the office as a whole. The hope is that, like the Freecycle Network for individual users, the tool will result in buying less and wasting less.