Really Free Market that goes on 24/7/365.
City of Fairbanks, then there's the Fairbanks North Star Borough (generally speaking you can think of our Boroughs as a County). The City has trash pickup, but outside of city limits you have to take your trash to the Borough landfill or contract for trash pickup. To facilitate good trash habits the Borough has Solid Waste Transfer Sites scattered around the area. They have tons of Dumpsters and places to safely leave chemicals, batteries, and other hazardous materials. Our property taxes pay to keep these sites tidy and transfer the waste to the landfill.
Reuse Pads. These are covered concrete pads where folks can drop off stuff they don't want but that still has some use in it. As I understand it part of the idea was to keep people out of the Dumpsters (it doesn't help that much), but the Reuse Pads have become the place to do baseline free repurposeing. And Fairbanksians love it. These days there's often a crowd, looking for reusables and dropping off stuff they no longer need.
This time of year (it's yard sale season!) I am checking out the two Transfer Sites closest to us daily, maybe a couple times a day on the weekends when people are cleaning. I'm always on the lookout for clothes for the boys. Now, somewhere someone just said, "You dress your kids out of the trash?!?" Nope. These are yard-sale remainders or clothes people have chosen to leave free for the taking. I've found clothes new with tags. I pick up fleece blankets to repurpose into hats and gaiters, which I take to the school nurses for when school kids forget theirs. I pick up books and take them to our local used book store, where I either get used book credit or they are donated to the Literacy Council. I've found furnishings, dishes, lamps, and I bring them home and use them, as the person who dropped them off wanted.
And sometimes you just get lucky. Here's some of the neat stuff we've found. With pictures!
black enamel canisters I found. I've always wanted a set but I'm just too cheap to spend $25-$30 on them. I did some mucking and re-arranging to make room for them on my counters, and I just love them there.
Hot Wheels set is self-contained. The kids loved it, to the point of almost mostly sharing and taking turns! Of course germs are a concern; this is technically the trash and you don't know where it's been. My rule on bringing home reusables: if it can't go in the washing machine or dishwasher, or survive a good hit of bleach solution it can't come home.
I've just discovered that I have way more pictures here than you'll probably put up with. The long and the short of it is that "shopping" at the Transfer Site not only saves us money on clothes and sometimes furnishings, but lets us have some stuff we just can't afford right now and make our house a home. It's a means of being sure the stuff you don't want any more has a chance of being used by someone without putting dollars in a corporation's pocket. Every time I have clothes Junior has outgrown I remember the seven cases (yes, seven diaper cases of size 4 clothes!) I had in the crawlspace when he needed them and where I got most of them. We actually had way too much, I sorted out what I wanted and took the rest back.
That's the other thing about shopping the Transfer Sites... the return policy is great!