Cycling up the mountain

I noticed the rip even as the box cam bobbing down the conveyor belt. Since anxious discussion on what might have slipped through is not the best way to begin a visit, I suppressed the urge to investigate the damage right at the arrival lounge.

A careful examination later at home showed that while there was no loss of items, the box itself was beyond repair and unfit for the return trip.

I can freecycle it, my daughter-in-law said.Freecycle, I learnt, is a worldwide, registered network of groups. It’s a movement of people to give and get stuff for free in their own localities and thereby keep good stuff out of landfills. Freecycle members post their offers for things they have no use for and interested members pick up the item from the designated spot.

Who would want a broken suitcase in this neighbourhood, I asked. Apparently someone did and the box got taken from the porch within hours of posting!

I was impressed by the concept. And it was heart warming to see that there was no stigma attached to taking old stuff. So in the days that followed, I kept a regular tab of the postings in the page.

Offers of toys, furniture, books and tools were common. But once in a while we came by an interesting post that provided topic for dinner table conversation.

Someone wanted the plastic covers the daily newspapers came in. I couldn’t make sense of that till I got to know that the arm-length, narrow plastic bags served as gloves while picking up the dog poo from the sidewalks!

A lady wanted just one large plastic trash bag. I spent my idle time trying to guess the use the single bag may be put to!

There was an offer for seedlings. The person said she had many strawberry plants growing in her backyard and people were welcome to come in with a shovel and take them.

The offer of boxes of chocolates and cookies, I guessed, was the decisive, first step taken by a person embarking on a diet!

After a month of association with the group, I was convinced that with such growing awareness, the US may, some day, shake off the dubious distinction of being the world’s largest generator of waste.

Till the parcel arrived. A spare part for a baby gadget ordered online arrived by post. The parcel was way too large for the size of the part. And for a good reason. The thick carton contained, in addition to the ordered item, six free samples of random cosmetic products, packed individually and attractively in separate pouches. The items were together protected by a thick base of air filled, plastic cushion.

As I watched my daughter-in-law put up the carton and free samples on offer, the phrase that came up in my mind was ‘alilu sevai’.

Squirrels may have given a helping hand in building the bridge across the sea but can the squirrels ever do it alone?

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