TerraBluTeams Practice #2

For our second week we will finish the four R’s with a practice that works across all of the quadruple bottom line (economic, environmental, social and cultural).

I grew up in the 1950’s in Minnesota where my family had a Spring/Fall cleaning ritual that took a full 4 day week-end and went from the attic to the basement, from the outside to the inside of the house. It was a Scandinavian tradition in my neighborhood. You could drive down the street and see families involved in all kinds of cleaning chores;window washing, roof repairs, gutter cleaning, garage cleaning, etc.

For “stuff” the rule was, if you haven’t touched it since the last cleaning and cannot find another use for it, it has to go to someone who can.

I loved it because we had a garage sale right after and got to barter, trade, raise money for our favorite charities and meet all the new neighbors and some very interesting strangers. The “stuff” stories and conversations, shared food and laughter were well worth the effort! I continue that tradition in my own family to this day.

As a single mother, when my daughter was a child, we owned a loft building in South Boston and I recycled 70% of my “stuff” into my art surfaces. My daughter will remember we used to go dumpster diving every weekend where commercial enterprises such as the Boston Children’s museum and 50 other companies in the area yielded treasures beyond our wildest dreams.

So if you do not have a tradition, I encourage you to create one. It’s an incredible educational vehicle for the family. Watch the story of “Stuff” and the story of “Broke” . They are worth a family viewing (20 minutes each) to understand how consumptive habits and your “stuff” choices are connected across that quadruple bottom line. You will learn how each of our choices effect environments, cultures, people and profits everywhere in the world.

The What:

Take an inventory of your “stuff”. Have the family go through their rooms and gather anything they have not used, worn or not needed in the last calendar year. Just before or after the holiday’s is a great time to do this every year. Go through your toolboxes, garden sheds, and attics and gather the family’s pile in the living room.

Can you freecycle, up-cycle, barter or repurpose your “stuff” (at least 20 pounds or one cubic yard per person) and socially or cultural impact one other person’s lifestyle by facilitating moving that resource to its next cycle?

(Watch another Ipswich family show their tradition on ICAM Comcast, Channel 9, Verizon, Channel 33 7:30PM, January 18th, see promo here.)

The How:

Divide the pile into the following four groups and create your own family solutions to learn about how there really is no “trash”. Every resource we “consume” has a full life cycle and this week’s exercise is to help your “stuff” get to its next cycle.

  1. Freecycle one item through the http://www.freecycle.org/. Did you know Craig’s List isn’t just for selling your “stuff”? List one item under the category “free stuff”.
  2. This is the opposite of the above. Choose an item during the week that you need and would purchase NEW and either ask for it on  http://www.freecycle.org/ or “barter” for it on Craig’s List.
  3. Get in touch with your creative side and choose an item to repurpose, downcycle, or up-cycle; some examples are here, here and here.
  4. Engage someone in your community. Find a local neighbor, person, family, new business in need for one of your items, or a talent or service you can provide free to them for 4 hours. Learn more about the economic, cultural and social needs of the community you live in; sign up to volunteer 4-8 hours a month to a local charitable organization, look herehere or here.

The Deep Dive:

How to freecycle here.

List your items for barter or recycling at one of these networks:






Freecycle site for the Ipswich, MA community here.

Tell us your stories about your own creative ideas on your journey to becoming a sustainability practitioner and comment on the blog website.

If this is your first time here, learn more about the 52 week, 2012 TerraBluTeam challenge and exercise structure here.

Please fell free to comment and let us know how you are doing or if you find any tips and tricks we should know about! Virtual engagement policy here.

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