Yep, a mere 4,718.6 miles away from us in lil’ ol’ Sunbury, UK, Vancouver has got the Polar Bear bug.  Looks like we owe “Nickm007” some thanks, he’s so far had 13 people join as a result of invites he’s sent.

You can see who’s winning in the ‘share the love’ stakes right on the home page, check out the bottom-right, those little hearts and the number after them tell you who’s spreading the most some Polar Bear love.

Others we must thank include:

“johnalexwood” (in East Grinstead, UK) who’s had 28 people join from ‘share the love’ invites he’s sent

“bigbear” (ah, that’s me) with 21

“nickm007” (Vancouver, Canada) of course, with 13

“marclyne” (Winchester, UK) with 6

“Gwazi” (Yateley, UK) with 2

“nikkistgreen” (Isleworth, UK) with 2

“myriamns” (Guildf0rd) also with 2

“gallileo” (Dunfermline, Scotland) with 1

“BrightSpark” (Oldham, UK) with 1

and “campbell8” (Chiswick, UK) with 1
Thanks guys and gals, keep spreading that big ol’ polar bear love around!

My alertsOne improvement we aimed to make over Freecycle was to allow you to easily manage alerts, there are two types of alerts (click the image for a closer look).

1.  ANYTHING IN YOUR TOWN (you get an email anytime something’s listed in your town) – this is ON by default, but you can flip it on or off any time

2.  KEYWORDS (add any number of keywords – see mine “boat”, “desk”, “table”, “baby” etc, and decide if you want the alert to watch just the title or title and sub-title – I always set for both)

Check it out, and have fun🙂

Freelance journalist, Kara Simsek, who is “the nicest girl you’ve ever met” acording to her Twitter bio, is currently working on a project called nomoneynovember as per her tweet:

new venture – http://nomoneynovember.wordpress.com – send me free stuff – I have no money and this is a serious journalistic endeavour!

It looks like she’s a fan of GoodNewsForPolarBears.org because she recently blogged about the site:

GoodNewsForPolarbears.org, is an ingenious free local recycling website that combines the best features of Freecycle and eBay. It lets people recycle things they no longer need by simply giving them to other people that DO need them.

I don’t need anything, but I do have a TV I don’t need – I’ll list it up and tell you how I get on!

Could this be the item she’s referring to?

guardian_blog
On 13 Oct 09, Adam Vaughan wrote this Guardian blog post on alternatives to Freecycle which invites people to send in sites they’ve come across. He had subsequently closed the comments when, last week, he says he was sent details on GoodNewsForPolarBears.org and so decided to re-open the comments. Then he, himself, added a link to GoodNewsForPolarBears.org in a new comment.

He’s right about the site being busy – it’s just surpassed its 1000th registered member! Quite a milestone.

But the point is summed up perfectly in a previous comment by TeenzBeanz:

At the end of the day the important thing is to keep stuff from landfill, so however you choose to do it, good for you! Don’t throw it away, give it away!

We just made some interesting changes in www.goodnewsforpolarbears.org to help you find other people near you.

The changes can be seen in THREE areas of the site:

1. Registration – for new members, when you register we now make it easy for you to find and join a local group.  Just type in your town, “London”, or “Kilmarnock” and we’ll show you all the groups in or related to that town along with how many members in each; you choose which group to join, maybe the largest one, or if you see others more local you may choose one of those, even if they have less members.  This way you get to decide what your local group looks like.  Over time we expect that some of the smaller more local groups will grow, whereas those that have fewer members will aggregate with larger local groups.  Which brings me nicely to the next point… changing your group…

2. In your Member Profile (sign in and click the link ‘My Account’, then select the ‘Profile’ tab) you’ll see an extra link labelled ‘View Group’ – this lets you see other members in your group.  You’ll also notice there’s now a count of how many members in your Group.  You can also now ‘change’ your Group (or even just have a look around for larger local groups to move to); just hit the link ‘change’ and then type in your town, your nearest large town (or even your county), and we’ll show you other local groups you could join, along with the nunber of members in each.

It’s really up to you whether you join a larger or smaller group, but when you join a larger group you probably have more chance of getting alerted to good stuff (since more members means more stuff).  Of course there’s nothing to stop you searching the site for stuff in ANY groups, so you shouldn’t get too hung up on the size of your ‘home’ group.

You may on the other hand decide that the, for example, “Bristol, Bristol, UK” group is too large, in which case there’s nothing to stop you starting a more local-level group, say, “Temple Meads, Bristol, UK”.

Anyway, have a go, have fun, and remember to invite your friends to grow YOUR group.  It’s all free, so tuck in🙂

It’s been a while since I last blogged, reason being we’ve been working on a few little updates to make things just a little better for y’all.

We should be going live later today, and I can’t resist telling you about the changes ahead of time.  (Hopefully) as of later today you’ll get the following improvements:

  • ‘search engine friendly’ URLs (that’s page addresses for those that don’t know) – the point of this is to help pages get found on Google so you get more chance of recycling stuff you list
  • a pretty little ‘invite friends’ feature – this lets you spread the love far and wide, by importing email addresses of your friends from AOLmail, Gmail, and Hotmail (also soon YahooMail), AND awarding you ‘hearts’ when your friends join the community.  You can earn bronze, silver, gold, platinum, and double platinum hearts; and we’ll show the top 10 members on the home page with a link to see more, so you should be able to find yourself in that list
  • we fixed a bug that prevented the site ‘remembering you’ when you return – this was a pain because you had to sign in every time, yawn, but that should be fixed with this new version, hooray
  • we made it simpler for new members to join when they see something and ‘want it’ – by linking them cleanly to the joining page
  • improved the ‘pick a winner’ process – we made a bunch of changes here to make it less confusing when someone ways they want an item you’ve listed.  The first thing is to ping the contact details of you both to one another (previously it was a bit one-sided).  The second thing we’ve done is to improve the layout of the ‘pick a winner’ page so its easier to see the wanters’ details so you can make contact. Finally we added a simple pop-up information box so when you ‘select or change winner’ you get some positive feedback that everything worked ok (previously you got returned to your ‘profile’ page and it wasn’t immediately obvious that anything had happened.
  • We tidied up a whole load of pages – home page, item page, search results, activity all benefit from some text and layout changes to make things a little clearer
  • Plus we fixed a few misc bugs we’d noticed

That’s about it for now folks, give that new ‘spread the love’ feature a spin and let me know how you get along.

Wow, here’s another great letter of support, this time from the European Commission Directorate-General Environment in Brussels.  We wrote to Stavros Dimas, Commissioner for The Environment, and got this wonderful reply from Nicholas Hanley.

(click the image to see a larger version)

EC Directorate Generale Environment

EC Directorate Generale Environment

Or you can get the PDF here: EC Directorate Generale Environment

Totnes main street

Totnes main street

I was recently turned onto the Transitions Network when a friend told me about the movement in Totnes in the UK.

It’s a worldwide initiate to fight the dual challenges of climate change and peak oil.  I consider this movement to be interesting in terms of how it is spreading, and important in terms of how people at the grass roots level (that’s you and me, folks!) can organize ourselves to begin to make a difference.

WOW, we got a new member in Palmas-TO, Tocantins, Brazil (@Chrysippo)  and a new member in Cincinati Ohio (@Underklader).  Welcome along guys.

Spread that love peeps🙂

So, www.GoodNewsForPolarBears.org has been public for a little over one week, and it’s amazing what a great response we’ve had.  Over 200 members as of last night, from all over the UK. And 66 items listed which people are GIVING AWAY to good homes including the following:

maclaren techno double buggy Haslemere,Surrey,UK
double bed and bedding, wicker chairs, settee etc Grantham,Midlands,UK
2 seater sofa Liss,Hampshire,UK
Desktop Pentium 4 PC (no hard discs, spares, or DIYer) Staines,Surrey,UK
Moderm Ikea standard lamp Staines,Surrey,UK
PIANO Raymond & Co of London surrey,worcester park,UK
Floppy disk cleaning kit Yateley,Hampshire,UK
CD/DVD protective travel case Yateley,Hampshire,UK
Telephone piggy bank Yateley,Hampshire,UK
Canon 32MB SD Flash card Yateley,Hampshire,UK

We’ve had some great celebrity support, including these here:

Kind words from The Earth Organization

Well, one can only ask :)

This says it all…

We certainly feel blessed to have had such a great reception.

What do people like about GoodNewsForPolarBears.org?

Well, if I had to hazzard a guess it’s the idea that they can somehow help someone else while de-cluttering their own life, whilst simultaneously helping the environment by NOT adding to landfill.

What else has happened this week

I’ve been asked how GoodNewsForPolarBears.org differs from Freecycle.org, after all, Freecycle.org was one of our inspirations, and if you’re interested to read my answers you can read them here:

The difference between Freecycle and GoodNewsForPolarBears

Why is it so complicated to list items on Freecycle.org

Newspapers and websites that have written about us

I’ve spoken to one or two journalists who’ve expressed an interest in what we’re doing, and a few have written about the community, here are a few you can check out:

Yorkshire Evening Post – New recycling site goes online in Leeds

Worcester News – If you don’t want it, someone else will

Chichester Observer – Go online to recycle unwanted goods

Somerset County Gazette – New website to boost recycling

(Who do YOU know who could help us spread the word? If so, please drop them a line and we’ll be very happy to talk to them)

And finally…

How can we spread the word abroad?

We built GoodNewsForPolarBears.org to be not limited by region; this means it doesn’t actually matter whether you are in Addis Ababa, London, Zaborozha, or anywhere; who do you know in other countries who could start to spread the word?

double bed and bedding, wicker chairs, settee etc

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