Guest Post: Make Do and Mend

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Jen Hello there!

The lovely people at Any Good to You have very kindly let me do a guest post on their blog today!

So who am I?

I am Jen, and I am currently nearly halfway through My Make Do and Mend Year- a year of buying nothing new!

I live in the sunny (?!) South-West of England with my lovely hubby, our 2 gorgeous boys, and 2 slightly irritating cats.

Egg box xmas tree

We embarked upon our mission at the beginning of September last year, and I have to confess that it was largely (all) my idea. Hubby has come round though, and the Smalls are Small enough not to really take too much notice!

The last 6 months have seen us making, making do, mending, thrifting, re-purposing, re-loving… you get the idea.

Monster sick1

And we have had to look at alternative sources for things that we need.

Which brings me on to sharing sites, like Any Good To You.

They are a brilliant resource for us, as it has meant that we have been able to ‘re-home’ things that would otherwise have been thrown away, and we have also been able to clear some of our clutter with a clear conscience as well!

You obviously don’t have to be on a mission like ours to make use of sharing sites. In the current economic climate, they are experiencing a real upsurge in popularity as people seek to save money wherever they can.

car boot coat1

BUT it is not all about money saving. I think sharing sites are principally about re-use. The world does not have an infinite supply of resources to satisfy our seemingly insatiable demands for yet more ‘stuff’. If some of the ‘stuff’ we have accumulated has outlived it’s use to us, then surely it is only right and proper to pass it on to someone else who will give it a good home, and get additional use from it.

The benefits are multiple: the giver gets rid of some stuff with a clear conscience and very little effort; the stuff is saved from landfill (which we are rapidly running out of); the receiver gets what they need, for free, and without having to buy new, therefore saving resources!

Now, that is what I call WIN WIN!!

You can read all about My Make Do and Mend Year in far too much detail on the blog here: www.mymakedoandmendyear.wordpress.com

And you can follow me on Twitter: @makeandmendyear

Thanks for reading!!

What is an item worth?

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Hi, For those who don’t know who I am, My name is Allan and I am one of the co-founders here at AnyGoodToYou.  I am a bit of a self confessed geek and have a deep hatred of seeing viable objects being thrown away.  I am also happy to admit that I’m no writer or journalist so you may have to forgive my writing style in the post below.

So on to the topic of my post.

For many years I was an avid collector of what I lovingly called vintage computing equipment (others including some friends referred to this as old computer junk).  Over the years I had built quite a collection.  Some given to me, some purchased, some of it was even current and new when I purchased it, such is the speed of obsolescence in technology.  Over the years I must have spent hundreds if not thousands of pounds, not to mention the hours put into finding, collecting and repairing.

But then one day I realised that my collection was turning into just that, ‘A Collection’ something akin to a museum exhibit, I realised I no longer used any of it, unlike when I first started collecting.  And it occurred to me that an item in and of itself has no real value, the true value of an item is in its use.  I don’t have bookshelves sat there empty because I don’t want to throw them away, I have them because I want to use them to store books.  The ones that I didn’t use I gave away.

So my ‘collection’ was still quite a special thing to me, but I realised that its true value could only be realised by trying to get it back into the hands of people who would use it or share it.  So that was it, decision made.   Now most of it has gone (I still have a few items waiting to be collected), back into the hands of enthusiasts who will make use of it, venues that demonstrate the evolution of computing and vintage computer clubs who give people hands on experience of our technological heritage.

And me, well my collection has gone, there is a small twinge of sadness.  The house is emptier now, but my heart is fuller, knowing that I have returned value to once treasured items, that I have assisted in the preservation of computing history and that I have given a little joy and happiness to others.

These were also the first real sparks of life of our fledgling freecycling community, as much of my collection (and later a substantial chunk of our furniture after merging two households) was offered through it.

So, my point…

If you have things sat in the loft, garage, under stairs cupboard, think about this, what are they truly worth to you in their current locations?  What might they be worth to someone else?

That old games console that never gets played any more, that old mobile phone that you shoved in a drawer when you got your shiny new upgrade, even things like old set of crockery you boxed and put in the loft after you got new ones.  They can all make a difference to someone, and space has value , wouldn’t you rather someone was making use of something you didn’t need/want any more, leaving you more space for the things you do.

So how about digging out some of the stuff you no longer want and offering it to someone who does, return the items value by putting it back into use, and make someone’s life a little better too.

Well that’s it for the time being, time for me to get off my little soap box and hand over to you the reader, comments, feedback etc. can be left in the comments below.

Calling all Flattr users

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English: This is the Flattr right now

(Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Any Good To You is free for both personal and business use, and we plan to keep it that way, sadly however, it is not free to run.  Currently the entire cost comes from personal donations from its two founders and a small amount from advertising.

This is where our plea to Flattr users comes in…

Flattr donations may be small but lots of them can and do make a difference, and of course the beauty of Flattr is that flattring us doesn’t even cost you any more than you already intended, but can make a big difference to our sustainability.

So if you are an existing Flattr user and are willing to spare a click for us, you can use the Flattr button on any of our blog posts, on our website or have a look at our Flattr profile .  All clicks are very welcome and greatly appreciated.

Flattr this

If you are not a Flattr user you can still help us by sharing this post with your friends, family & colleagues,  you could even consider joining Flattr and making a micro donation to us and the many other content providers you use on a daily basis to show you appreciate the work and effort they put into providing the content you enjoy.

What is Flattr?

For our readers who have not heard of Flattr, it is a form of microdonation.  You can go around the Internet ‘Flattring’ content you like without needing to make specific donations through things like paypal etc. to each individual site.

They can probably explain the whole thing better themselves so here is a small video from them.

NOTE: This post IS NOT sponsored by Flattr, and we are not affiliated with them in anyway other than being a user of their service.  The only income we will get from this post is if kind hearted people Flattr our content.

Call for volunteers. Can you help us?

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Help Wanted?

Last year we found new homes for many things including furniture, home computers, bicycles, gym equipment, tools and even garden plants. All of which would otherwise have gone into landfill or other waste streams.

For 2013 we want to help freecycle even more.  As a small team we are looking for volunteers with a passion for reducing waste who can spare a small amount of time to help us achieve this.

As a not-for-profit site, the rewards we can offer at the moment are definitely more for the heart and soul than the wallet, but you would earn our deepest appreciation and that warm fuzzy feeling that comes from helping others and the planet.

If you can help we would love you to get in touch, or if know someone who might be willing to, please pass on these details.

We are looking for help with…

In the future we will also be looking for…

Contact information

You can contact us in many ways, the main ones are…

But if you know of others please feel free to use them.

Note: freecycling is not Freecycle

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Freecycling

Photo credit: allisonallison

Ok, maybe that title is a little confusing. Let me expand.

Freecycle is freecycling but freecycling is not Freecycle.

It can be quite frustrating when it seems that the media industry appears to believe that the two are one in the same thing.  Often talking about the freecycling movement but only directing people to Freecycle.  There are dozens of other useful sites around the globe.  I admit that Freecycle may be one of the better know ones, but could that be because that’s all people normally hear about.

OK I know I may be biased about ours (http://www.anygoodtoyou.com) but there are quite a few others and if you search on sites such as AlternativeTo.net and SimilarSiteSearch.com you can find lots of alternatives, likewise if you look up freecycling on Wikipedia http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Freecycling you can see that Freecycle is only one such service.

Now obviously we are going to shamelessly plug AnyGoodToYou.com (this is after our blog) but to ensure we are not doing the same thing I am highlighting above, here are a  few of the others sites  (please note we are not endorsing or recommending the following sites,  just showing alternatives exist)

So to sum up and refer back to my original point…

Freecycle is a method of freecycing

freecycling is far more than just Freecycle.

 If you have more sites you would like to share with people, feel free to comment here or why not join our freecycling community over on Google+, we have a section dedicated to freecycling sites.

Consumer Society

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The modern world has changed, no longer do the values of ‘make do and mend’ seem to be the norm.  We have moved into a consumer society, with a throw away culture.

Companies constantly push their latest and greatest product, wanting us to upgrade.

Take the humble television as just one example.  Until only few years ago, lots of people were using TV sets that were a decade or more old.  TV sets hadn’t changed that much since the advent of colour TV in the late 60s and wide screen in the late 90s.

In the last decade however it feels like most electronic equipment is out of date before you have even unpacked it.  A standard widescreen TV purchased in 2002 would have been obsoleted  by the push to upgrade ready for digital, then to HD, later to Full HD, and then to buy a 3D HD TV and now after the Consumer electronics Show in Las Vegas they are starting to promote Ultra HD (4K) TVs.

Don’t get me wrong, I love technology (I’m secretly a bit of a geek, well actually not so secretly), but not at the expense of the planet.  I have a HD TV but not because the marketeers won, it was simply that our old TV broke down and it was not longer economical to get it repaired.  I have a smart phone but I have upgrade cycles measured in years and normally dictated by the fact I can no longer use the device for one reason or another.

When you can no longer resist the allure of the new thing from your favourite company what do you do with the old one? It probably hasn’t got much residual value in this fast moving consumer society, but its also not broken and it’s way too good to just throw away.

Why not give it away? Many people are happy to have the last years mobile phones, or are perhaps happy to use an older TV in a bedroom etc.  Students who are just starting out on their own are also often very grateful for such gifts, allowing them to complete their studies with a lower debt burden (I know I was when studying)

This was one of the reasons we started AnyGoodToYou.com , to give people a hassle free way to find new homes for these items, and at the same time reduce waste, reduce impact on natural resources and improve the lives of others along the way.

Please help us spread the word, it’s as simple as sharing this blog post with family, friends & colleagues or post a like to it on your favourite social network and together we can help to build a better world.

Time for a New Year Declutter

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I thought it would be nice to start 2012 a little differently, so I asked Rachel Papworth from Green and Tidy if she would be willing to write our first post for the new year, which she has so kindly done.  So, enough from me, over to Rachel.

– – –

Rachel Papworth

Rachel Papworth

I’m Rachel Papworth.  Through Green and Tidy, I help people who have way too much stuff, to declutter and create home they love, homes that support them to live the lives they want.

A large part of my motivation for decluttering and organising is how essential it is to minimising your environmental impact.

When you regularly declutter and organise, you keep stuff in circulation, rather than hoarding and storing it. So other people use it rather than buying new.

You consume less because you don’t buy stuff to replace what you can’t find, stuff you’ve forgotten you’ve got or stuff that’s got damaged or broken because it wasn’t stored carefully. You’re not constantly knocking things off piles of clutter.

You need less space because you’ve got less stuff.

So I’m a massive fan of sites like AnyGoodToYou, which help people to find new users for the stuff they no longer want or need.

If you’re a regular user of the site, you probably list your unwanted furniture, clothing, books, games and CDs on AnyGoodToYou without a second thought.

But are you still sending stuff to landfill that could find a new lease of life through the site?

Here are some things you might not have thought to offer:

  • Corks from wine bottles – people make them into cork boards.
  • Food – whether it’s a glut from your allotment, the chocolates you want out of your house now that Christmas is over, those herbal teas you never liked, or bags of pulses you know you’ll never get round to using. Don’t worry about best before dates (though it’s best to compost anything that’s gone past a ‘use by’ date).
  • Broken jewellery – popular among craft types, who remake it.
  • Jam jars – taken by people who make their own jams and chutneys.
  • Opened cosmetics and toiletries – lots of people are happy to take them even though they’ve been opened.
  • Empty shuttlecock tubes – useful for posting documents.
  • Out of date newspapers/magazines – I pick up a neighbour’s newspaper when she’s finished with it. I don’t mind reading it a day or so late.
  • Empty yoghurt pots – gardeners use them for sprouting seeds and protecting seedlings.
  • Used padded envelopes – they can be used over and over again. Why buy new?
  • Packing peanuts/wotsits etc – popular with ebay sellers.

Do you pass on/have you passed on any unusual items through AnyGoodToYou?

I am sure that you will all join me in thanking Rachel for taking the time over Christmas to write this post, some good advice, why not let us know in the comments what you think, add your own ideas of things that people could be listing or answer Rachel’s question about unusual items you have listed.

You can also receive a free decluttering masterclass plus regular hints, tips and inspirational stories, by  joining the Green and Tidy community here.

How are we different to Freecycle or Freegle?

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A few people have asked about this over the last few weeks, so I thought it might be a good idea to try and explain a little about how we are different from some of the other sites such as Freecycle and Freegle etc.

Instant Access

Firstly, you dont need to be a member to view what is currently on offer via the site, if you see something you are interested in or you want to list something, you can join in just a few minutes, you don’t have to wait for anyone to activate your account etc. either, when you sign up to AGTY, you will get an automated email with a link to validate your account, it’s that simple.

Simplicity

Some of you will suffer from a similar problem to us I am sure.  Where we live, we don’t have one Freecycle or Freegle groups which covers us, we live between groups, meaning we need to subscribe to several to cover our ‘area’, this has the unfortunate side effect of flooding our in-boxes with listings from a wide geographic area which we couldn’t really justify travelling to. The AGTY solution to this, don’t split things up by town or district. We offer one site with one signup with the aim of saving the one planet that we all share.  You can specify how far from your location you are willing to travel and we will show you the things which are in that area.  If you are visiting friends, you can just change your area whilst you are away and will see everything around you, no need to search for a new group, no need to signup or unsubscribe when you return home, just change your location again.  This applies when you move home too, which leads me to my next  point nicely…

Reputation

Because you are not changing from one group to another, if you move house for example, your reputation on the site stays with you.  People in the community will be able to see that you have been with us for a long time etc.

Clearer Inbox

You don’t get an inbox full of stuff your not interested in, or as many would call it ‘spam’.  With many of the area groups on Freecycle and Freegle everythings arrives in your inbox.  We try to make our listings available to you in as many ways as possible, but in ways that leave you in control.  The primary way to access listings at the moment is via our website.  We also have XML feeds (known as RSS feeds in some apps) which you can subscribe to, there are many appplications to access these and many modern email applications allow you to subscribe to them too and you can choose which categories you want details from.  We are constantly looking for other ways to make our listings available and will keep you up-to-date on new ways here and on the site.

What’s gone, what’s not.

Unlike the email group based sites, you don’t have to hunt through your email to see if something has gone or not.  Because our listings are managed by the site, when you visit one you will see straight away if it is still offered or gone.

The AGTY way

We know that some people have had problems with moderators on other sites, we are in the process of building our ‘Community Moderators’ section of the site at the moment, which will be different to our staff moderator system.  A community moderator wont see who the listing is from (which means they can’t be biased against any specific user), they will also be seen by two moderators before going live to reduce the chance of  ‘spam’ listings making it through to you.

I hope this goes some way to answering the questions people have been asking,  if not or you have feedback you can let us know using the Contact Us details from the site.

Regards

The AGTY Team

Random Freebies

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Over the next few weeks on the lead up to Christmas, keep and eye on the AGTY site as we will be adding a few random prizes as free listings.

What do you have to do to get them I hear you ask… well its simple, just join the site (which is free of course and only takes a couple of mins) then click the express interest link on the listing (just like you would for anything offered for free on the site)

All we ask is that you tell us why we should give it to you when you express interest, its that simple, we might even publish some of the funny ones  here 🙂

Now what are you waiting for, head over to the sit and get your name down for the first one which is for free paypal credit, you can find it here http://www.anygoodtoyou.com/listing_detail.php?lid=100598

Of course you can follow us on Twitter, like us on Facebook or subscribe to one of the RSS feeds from the site to to give you a heads up when they are listed too.

Everyday can be #Flattrday :-)

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Hi Everyone,

You may have noticed we have been adding Flattr links all over the place recently, some of you I am sure will already know what this is all about, some of you may have clicked them to find out.  For the rest of you I thought it might be worth a quick post to explain why we have been doing it.

Right, where do I start, well Flattr is a way that you, our readers, followers and users can help support sites and projects like ours.  Give us a little reward if we produce content that you like.  I’m going to be cheeky here and ‘borrow’ some of the explanation directly from the Flattr page, where you can see the full text (hope they don’t mind)

Support great web content – There’s a brave new world filled with entertainment, news and tools made by everyone, and not just the big guys. This new world deserves your support.

How does it work? – Whenever you see a Flattr button on a blog or website that you like, click it.  We count up all of your clicks at the end of each month and distribute your monthly spend between everything you’ve clicked on. Simple, right? Of course, you’re also welcome to add a Flattr button to your site and get other people’s support too.

What does it offer for Anygoodtoyou.com? Well, as we have no commercial sponsor or company funding us, everything is either paid for by the project founders, donations from well wishing users or advertising, and now from Flattr too.   All of this helps us to make the project more sustainable, not just in the eco/environmental sense but from a financial one too.

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