Don't throw it all away

Ace: I overheard someone talking about “freecycle” the other day. What is it? Some sort of biking initiative?—Stu Wheeler

Stu: In his later, ahem, 30s, Ace assisted a professor of private investigationism at a local university. From time to time, he would notice a group of hipster students assembling themselves on campus. There, in a large (and largely disorganized) pack, they’d perform a sort of haphazard synchronized dance—on bicycles. They called themselves “Freecycle,” which Ace, being a wordsmith, appreciated for its clever play on “freestyle.”

Though, when you asked this question, Ace thought you couldn’t possibly mean the group of bicycling coeds that obstructed his path to class each day. Especially since they disbanded shortly after one of the members had that tragic accident. …Ace won’t reveal too much (show some respect, people), except to say that it involved his bicycle, a fifth of vodka and a garden hose.

The Freecycle that you’re inquiring about is, in fact, not a biking initiative, but rather a nonprofit recycling initiative based out of Arizona. Kind of like Craigslist, Freecycle is a website for posting ads for unwanted (or wanted, if you’re hunting for something) items that might still be useable to someone else. That way, they’re saved from going to the landfill, but you still get to declutter. There’s a chapter for every city, too, so you won’t be getting offers for bookshelves from Wenatchee, Washington. What you can get, however, is everything from a Beagle puppy to a bottle of perfume to a box of granola bars.

Ace signed up and was soon bombarded with e-mail alerts for available items. (And items that have already been claimed—sorry, folks. Someone just got the puppy.) Here’s a tip, direct from Ace to you: Lower the frequency of these alerts. Also, if you’re looking for something specific, utilize the “Search” function. Otherwise, you’ll find yourself sifting through a lot of stuff you don’t need. …Kind of like at the landfill.

You can ask Ace yourself. Intrepid investigative reporter Ace Atkins has been chasing readers’ leads for 19 years. If you have a question for Ace, e-mail it to

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