Based in Toronto, Ontario, Nancy Matsumoto is a writer and editor who covers sustainable agriculture, food, sake, arts and culture.

A Home for Household Surplus

Problem: You have unused building or renovation materials, like bathroom tile, that you want to get rid of, but don't have time to responsibly recycle each item.

Solution: There has been a growing interest in the "freecycling" process: repurposing potential landfill material by putting it into the hands of needy individuals or organizations. The nonprofit freecycle.org is the largest of a number of sites dedicated to connecting donors and recipients. The site uses Yahoo! Groups to link you to members in your community, with whom you can arrange free personal drop-offs or pick-ups. Habitat for Humanity (habitat.org/env/restores.aspx) will connect you to a local bricks-and-mortar "ReStore" where you can donate leftover building materials or buy them for a fraction of their retail cost. Many cities have Web sites (New York City's is nyc.gov/html/stuffex/html/home/home.shtml) that refer you to organizations that will help you donate or resell your stuff. Check your local department of waste management to see if your city has a site. For a list of reuse organizations nationwide, check reDO.org and click on "Find a Reuse Center." Neighborrow.com lets you put anything you own into a free virtual-lending library for reciprocal borrowing with your neighbors. If you are leery of dealing with strangers through freecycle and neighborrow, anonymous pick-up or drop-offs can be arranged.

Starved for adequate care

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