Don’t Shop, Swap!: Gwangju Freecycle

Written by Ashlyn Winter

Freecycle was started in January 2014 by a lovely lady named Lianne Bronzo. Many of her friends were leaving Korea and were overwhelmed with the things they had accumulated, and that they couldn’t take back to their home countries. Yet there were new teachers coming to replace them, so why should perfectly good things be thrown out, and unnecessary new things be purchased? Another motivation to start this great event was the difficulty of acquiring secondhand items in Korea. The “buy/sell” page on Facebook was an option, but what about smaller items like utensils and mugs? She also wanted to get Korean people to use secondhand items. She often saw perfectly good things on the side of the street that went to waste.
So, she thought it would be good to try to reduce waste as well as promote a sense of community through the event. Lianne’s goal was to have swaps twice a year and for people to be active in the groups. She wanted people to give things away before throwing things away, and for people to seek secondhand instead of buying new. She has had a heart to promote the Freecycle event among Korean people, too.

I took over from Lianne in 2015 as she was leaving Korea to seek adventures in other countries. I was hesitant at first because I knew it would be a lot of work and I would need community support for this event to be a continued success. I didn’t know as many people in the Gwangju community as Lianne did, but I have a heart for serving the community and helping out the GIC, so I said yes, and trusted that there would be people to volunteer and help make each event successful. And this has been the case! Each time Freecycle comes up, I have enough people to help me sort donated items and set up for the event. So, thanks to all of you out there in our amazing Gwangju community. Without you, this event would not be possible!

This year, we will be having our 8th “Swap, Don’t Shop” Freecycle event hosted by the GIC on September 9, 2017. Past Freecycle events wouldn’t have been successful if it weren’t for the incredible Gwangju community and the GIC’s continual support. Thanks to all who contribute and help out where you can. All of your help and support is much appreciated!

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