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Using Information to Turn Junk into Treasure
Alex Steffen, 9 Jun 06

Using information to connect two parties and a thing is bright, bright green. What do I mean? Simply this: very often, in our materially-saturated society, one of us has something we don't want but which still might be useful, even valuable to someone else. Connecting the with the junk/treasure to the person who wants the junk/treasure turns a trip to the dump into a community-building ecological re-use project. This is cool, and the only barrier to making this happen is information.

We've posted on a bunch of systems for doing this Freecycle, Sharer, Garbagescout, WasteMatch. Now there's Throwplace, "the Internet's landfill alternative":

What is the difference between® and other recycling and charity sites? At® you can donate items directly to Charities, who will then give them to people who need them, or use the items for their organizations.® is not an auction; it does not collect money for Charities, it does not sell merchandise and give the proceeds to Charities, nor does it match donations to requests for needed items. Instead, it facilitates the exchange and reuse of goods by allowing anyone to list donations in four main sections: U.S. Charity, International Charity, Business and Up-For-Grabs. Charities, Business and Individuals can browse active listings on the site at any time, and make requests for things they need.® offers an efficient, convenient and structured process for giving away surplus inventory and excess possessions. Listings are anonymous until the Thrower selects a recipient, at which time the site automatically exchanges the email addresses of Thrower and Taker.

Their site is sort of soulless and corporate, but as far as I can tell, their service seems to be pretty well thought-through.

In any case, seamless connections between junk-tossers and treasure-hunters: wave of the future. I'm telling you.

(Thanks, Jen!)

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