The life span of a tricycle is short. Like so many items in a toddler’s inventory it’s briefly cherished as a rite of passage then unceremoniously tossed aside for the Next Big Step: training wheels – a bike – one day a car.
This is the natural course of your average Western world consumer product – so natural that we often don’t stop to think: What happens to those discards?
Most will end up in the trash of course while others will languish forgotten in the corner of a dark garage or a musty attic. But on the last Saturday of every month some are laid out on the front lawn of a brick townhouse in Northeast Washington – scrapped tricycles splayed beside yellowing books.
This is a ‘Free Store’ a yard sale without price tags – where everything old is considered anew.
The host of this store in Brookland is an organisation called the Peace House – a nonprofit focused on enacting social change locally. In this case that means encouraging neighbours to give their stuff away and take the stuff that others leave behind.
The group is not alone in trying to create free item exchanges – formally known as ‘gift economies’ – in the Washington area.
There are neighbourhood ‘Buy Nothing’ Facebook groups – online marketplaces where users offer up unwanted goods nationwide.