During the pandemic, community members in south London began communicating via WhatsApp. They were able to fulfill requests in the community at no cost to those in need. A year and a half later, rather than go back to traditional means of selling items through on-line garage sales, these south Londoners were still using the app to swap and share services at no cost.
This spirit of swapping was happening in other communities as well. The Freecycle Network, a platform where people share items for free, saw a 50% increase during the pandemic. People discovered they were finding connection through generosity and wanted it to continue.
A retired school teacher learned she could use Freecycle to ask for items needed by asylum seekers. She received an overwhelming response and spread the generosity of the Freecycle community to other groups. They raised money and swapped things that may have otherwise ended up in landfills.
One of the lessons learned by this community was that making connections and helping one another for no personal gain is contagious. What started as a way to help during a global pandemic proved to be a sustainable way to funnel items in the hands of those who need them. In addition, they were able to work toward the broader goal of keeping usable items out of landfills.
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Story shared by, Bradley Olson, PhD, USA