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Reuse Lists: What's Wrong with Free Stuff?

The axiom that one man's trash is another man's treasure is particularly apt for reuse lists such as Craigslist and similar swap boards, which provide environmentally sound ways of redistributing your swag to those who want it. Aside from free spam and early models of computers, for example, thrifty souls on MIT's ReUse have posted free leftover junk food, hamsters, an iguana, a cat toothbrush and toothpaste (only partially used), a collection of Campbell's soup labels, black cat voodoo oil. You can even get art—or aht, as they say here in Boston. A recent posting: "Two signed (one numbered) prints by Edward Ladell. (One of these needs to be remounted.) While these need new frames and are ugly, they're ahhht."

Mercury Rising

A more unsettling posting appeared the following day: "One blob of elemental mercury from broken fever thermometer. Responsible users/uses only. —K"

K went on to say, "Checking the new digital fever thermometer against the three old mercury ones, having trouble shaking them down. Thought I was being careful. What I most did not want to happen, happened. What a hassle to clean up a mercury spill! An hour of crawling around, rolling the shiny little gathering ball, trying to find every last speck. One down, two left. Would be nice to get rid of them in a responsible way, before the next accident."

K made his contribution to aht as well. He recounted that he advertised two lots of hard drives over a period of months. The first lot of about 100, he gave to somebody from Craigslist. The rest went to an artist named Dan Roe, "a tech/artist who does little robotic things." K commented, "Dedicating my life to the quixotic pursuit of trying to recycle everything (we are down to about one-half pound residue per year for a household of two), I really need the reuse lists. I was excited to see the recent request for "twisties" (little plastic debris from opening the lids on plastic milk bottles etc.), as I have boxes of such misc. household junk, esp. plastic."

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