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TECHNOLOGY

Web site finds new homes for old junk

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Freecycle.com encourages people to find new owners for the things they no longer want, instead of throwing them away.

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FRANKFURT, Germany (CNN) -- EBay may be king when it comes to online trading, but another Web site, which has an environmentally friendly ethos, is also making a big impact on the business of auctioning in cyberspace.

Freecycle.org is popular with a new breed of tech-savvy greens who are putting their unwanted goods up for bid on the Web, instead of throwing them in the trash.

What makes Freecycle unique, though, is that everything up for grabs on the site is free.

If, for example, you have a bike you want to give away, you would post it on your local Freecycle Web site and wait for the e-mails to come in.

And because no money changes hands, you get to decide who the bike goes to -- and users say that the best part is meeting the person when they come to pick up the item.

The site has 1.6 million members from more than over 50 countries -- and environmentally friendly Germany is leading the way.

Publishing expert Thomas Pradel is one of the people behind Freecycle's rapid organic growth.

"I started the Frankfurt Freecycle group one-and-a-half years ago and now there's 700 members and it's still growing," Pradel told CNN.

Laura Thurston, a project manager who runs the Darmstadt site, also in Germany, told CNN running such a worthy cause was very rewarding.

"It makes me feel good about trying to save the environment, save the planet and also I don't want my life full of clutter," she said.

Freecycle is currently listed on the Yahoo groups network.

But its Arizona-based founder is trying to give Freecycle a more permanent virtual home -- a move that will require capital and the introduction of advertising.

Environmental lobby group Friends of the Earth do not see this as a problem.

"It's a good solution to the end part of the problem which is the waste of useful goods, and in that way it will stop those goods going to landfill or incineration," Georgina Bloomfield, of Friends of the Earth, told CNN.

"The environmental benefit of using that shouldn't be overshadowed by the fact that they may need to take advertising as well."

-- CNN's Jim Boulden contributed to this report.

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