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Modern-day dumpster diving: Want a free TV?

Freecycle: the joy of getting free stuff, all year round

As the DNC taught us, there’s nothing better than getting free stuff. Free bikes, free water bottles, free condoms to protect us from John McCain. Now, there’s a way to keep the free swag flowing all year round.

DenverFreecycle is the cheap, environmentally-friendly person’s version of Craigslist. Instead of throwing away old TVs, beds or even pets, people post ads to a Yahoo group and respondents come and haul their treasure troves away. The idea is to cut down on waste while continuing the age-old tradition of, well, dumpster diving.

Fair warning: The Freecycle Network, which calls itself a global "nonprofit movement," is a bit more regulated than other sites. You have to join the Denver group to see the posts, everything is vetted by a moderator, and you can’t just say "I’m leaving the couch by the curb" and wait for the vultures to descend. You have to e-mail the interested parties first and arrange a pick-up time, which makes the process feel safer and less chaotic.

But when it all works out, it sure is sweet. Last night, I found myself driving to the Lowry area to pick up a free, twenty-inch RCA TV -- which, compared to the antique, remote-less Zenith currently sitting in my living room, seemed like a godsend. When I arrived, the TV was waiting on the porch of a cute little house with an Obama sign in the yard and an American flag by the door.

The friendly owner not only welcomed a stranger onto her porch, but actually loaded the TV into my car.

"Isn’t Freecycle great?" she said, and I had to agree. -- Lisa Rab

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