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

Modern-day dumpster diving: Want a free TV?

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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