Whether you’re learning homesteading skills or getting ready for a potential disaster, most of us need to do this on a budget. Oh yes, I understand the temptation to go out and spend a lot of money on self-sufficiency goodies. Did I mention that my favorite Christmas gift this year was a gift card that will allow me to buy seeds? Or that I am currently drooling over the beginner’s cheesemaking set at the local Homesteader’s Emporium? Learning new skills and getting ready for the future can be expensive.
For many years, I’ve been giving things away and getting items on Freecycle. It’s a group that runs through Yahoo Groups, and it is in just about any urban area and many rural ones as well. If you look around, you’ll likely find one close to you.
What can you get on Freecycle? Just about anything. Here are my top self-sufficiency finds:
Freecycle has been a good place to find all sorts of homesteading goodies. These include old canning jars, a dehydrator, and plant pots that allow us to grow food on our deck.
Free Plants? Why Yes, Please!
If you’re starting a garden, you can easily get plant divisions or swap seeds through an email list like Freecycle. I’ve received a number of plants through the email list, including the thyme that now blankets my garden.
Free Building Materials
We’re not big on large scale home projects, so we rarely have bits of scrap left over. This means that any project involves a trip to the hardware store. Instead, I’ve used Freecycle to find items like a scrap of 2×4, bits of wood for planters, and a drainpipe to add an attachment for a rain barrel so that we can save water in our garden.
Food for the Taking
While you’re not really supposed to Freecycle food, I’ve received emails about tree fruit that was going to waste. This unwanted fruit is perfect for turning into jam.
Freecycle isn’t just about free stuff, though. It’s useful in any number of ways. By giving and getting on Freecycle, you can:
Create Space for What’s Important
By getting rid of items that you don’t need in your house, you can make room for the things that you really need. How about removing a bit of furniture to make an area where you can grow food indoors? Or getting rid of a lot of furniture so that you can create a pantry?
Buy What You Must
When you recycle and get items for free, whatever the item might be, this frees up some space in your budget for items that you really do need to buy. Perhaps you’re creating a pantry of canned food and you’d like to spend $30 a month on it for a while. If you can find your child a new jacket through Freecycle, there’s your $30. We’ve gotten so many child-oriented items through Freecycle, and we’ve given many back once we’re done.
One of my favorite things about Freecycle is the odd little community that it builds. While some recycling transactions don’t even involve meeting the person, others involve a lot of chatting through email and in person. I now have one person who gives me plants from her garden, and there are others who receive my daughter’s old clothes.
To me, recycling in this way only makes sense. It builds community, saves you and others money, and saves resources by encouraging people to reuse rather than buy something that’s cheap and disposable.
Take a look around your home. What could you give to or get from others that would help you in your search for self-sufficiency?