Daily Ireland 21-6-06

Swap shop does its bit for the environment:
JumbleTown aims to encourage users to ‘life-cycle’ by exchanging unwanted items
by Aine Toner

It is better to give than to receive but, in JumbleTown’s case, giving and receiving are mutually beneficial.

JumbleTown is an environmental website that helps givers pass on unwanted items to potential takers for free.

A virtual marketplace, JumbleTown helps those looking to give away and/or acquire literally thousands of useful items.

“My brother and I developed Utilio, which is a web development database company,” explains Des Fitzgibbon, marketing manager for JumbleTown.

“JumbleTown started as a side project about three years ago and it was brought to fruition approximately two months ago.”

“As a company, Utilio is interested in bringing people together and helping communities,” says Des.

“I used to be a geography teacher and so have a formal interest in the environment and helping to maintain it.

“We thought about how useful it would be for people to pass on their unwanted items that are still usable. The main spur forwards came two months ago when the OCED (Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development) announced that the South had more waste per capita than any other developed nation.”

“We produce 120 stone (760kg) of waste per year while the Americans produce 740kg - the OECD average is 570kg annually,” explains Des.

“I felt we were doing a disservice to ourselves when there was no need to be classed as eco-hooligans.

“We realised that, if people put their still-useful items onto a site, it could help the environment.

“For example, if someone is moving house and getting rid of their sofa, they can list on the site that it won’t be available for another three or four weeks.”

In fact, Forfas, a research group that advises the Irish government, released a report last week highlighting that people living in the South are even bigger wasters than indicated in the OECD report released two months ago.
Apart from clearing your home or office, the new site also helps people do their bit to protect the environment.

And did I mention that, unlike other online auction sites, it’s free to register and acquire items on JumbleTown?

“It’s absolutely free - there’s no buying or selling on the site,” says Des.

“People are surprised that it is a free service. We could charge but we have no intentions to do so at the moment.

“We are more interested in bringing traffic to the website and making sure people are willing to use it.”

“We’ve been pleasantly surprised by the quality of the items on the site,” he continues.

“The simple fact is that they have to be useful. If they’re broken, they should be taken to be recycled or to a landfill or waste disposal unit as a last resort.

“Just as the North has a recycling initiative, we too use the slogan ‘reduce, re-use and recycle’.

“We believe in life-cycling, which we see as the step before recycling. We hope to ensure an item has gone through its life cycle before being recycled or disposed of.”

“We always aim to reuse an item because recycling costs money and landfill sites and disposal units are costly,” says Des.

As you would imagine, not all items may be given away on the website.
There’s a list of prohibitive items available on JumbleTown.

These include pets or live animals, medications, food, fireworks and firearms or offensive weapons, as well as any item that is illegal in either the North or South.
More is expected from the burgeoning site, which is already planning more JumbleTown sites.

“We’ve already launched jumbletown.co.uk but we haven’t fully marketed it yet, since we have been concentrating on the Irish site at the moment,” explains Des.

“JumbleTown works on a local, regional and national level and it’s also a cross-border initiative.

“If someone from the North would like an item that’s in Monaghan, they should use the .ie site as we’re trying to incorporate all of Ireland.”

Although we would all like to say that we’re as green as possible, it’s not always easy.
Resources dedicated to life-cycling and recycling in Ireland are often constrained by limited budgets.

“There is work carried out by the municipal authorities when they collect heavy unwanted items but it’s not enough,” says Des.

“This is where JumbleTown helps.

“If it’s a choice between a large skip and a small skip, or one skip instead of two skips, and it would prevent another load on a landfill site, that would be great.”

For more information or to register, log onto www.jumbletown.ie.