FW-44 -- Freecycle? in Japan

J@pan Inc Magazine Presents:

* * * * * * * F R U G A L W A T C H * * * * * * * *
A weekly roundup of how to be frugal in the world's most
expensive country to live (unless you read this!), written
and compiled by Wendy J. Imura.

Regular edition, February 15, 2005 Issue No. 44

- What's new (Freecycle? in Japan)
- Bargain Roundup: Easter's Almost Here!
- Frugal tips (Natural Easter Egg Dyes)
- Credits
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Dear Frugal Readers,

In continuing with our late January-early February "spring
cleaning theme,"I thought I'd introduce a unique resource
available worldwide for the recycling of free items, also
known as "freecycling."

The Freecycle Network(TM) was started in 2003 in Tuscon,
Arizona, to promote waste reduction and help save the desert
landscape. The first Freecycle Group started an electronic
forum where individual and non-profit groups could "recycle"
unwanted items. Currently, almost two years after the
start to Freecylcing, nearly 2,328 communities worldwide
have Freecycle (TM) groups.

How does it work? Well, it's all grassroots. Each local
group is run by a volunteer moderator. Membership in the
group is free, and each group has its own rules. When you
want to find a new home for something (be it clothing,
books, a piece of furniture, toys, or even an unused gift),
simply send an e-mail to the Freecycle Group advertising it.
You can also use the list to acquire something yourself by
posting a message "Seeking XYZ." The only main rules are
that the items be free, legal, and appropriate for all ages.

In Japan, there are several Freecycle groups. There is a
Japan-wide list (started by yours truly) which boasts 232
members, a Tokyo Group with 121, an Okinawa group with 136,
and several other local groups with smaller membership
figures. The Freecycle Japan list is unique in that it is
nationwide, and takes advantage of the Japan Post and
delivery companies' chakubarai, or cash payment on delivery,
services, thus reducing the burden on the sender.

While the list is sometimes quiet, so far during February
the following items have been offered for free: a double
burner stove, baby clothes, a metal shelf, Topeka baby
bicycle accessories, sweets and Chinese teas, back issues
of "Mothering" magazine, a box of romance novels, and
numerous other items. People have also posted looking
for items as diverse as red dresses, Beijing travel
books, a floor lamp, and CFA study books. In the last
year and a half, at least 350 items have changed hands
(based on the number of posts).

Freecycling is, in general, a happy concept. It allows
you to both find a home for unwanted items, and to also
search for items for free. While Japan numbers are
impressive, membership in Freecycle groups in the US
numbers in the thousands or tens of thousands in some
cities. The more people involved, the better your
chances of freecycling are. In you are interested in
learning more about Freecycling or want to join,
visit www.freecycle.org, the global clearinghouse
for all Freecyle groups.

Frugally yours,
Wendy J. Imura
(www.freecycle.org referenced in the above article
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+++ BARGAIN ROUNDUP: Easter's Almost Here!
A little less than a month from now, and we'll be awash
in bunnies, eggs, and green plastic grass. While the
Christian origins of the holiday may be lost in
Japan's secular society, the commercial aspects seem to
be more and more prevalent. Here, we've located some
Easter bargains to help prepare you to celebrate this
fun holiday, whether its with your "eikaiwa"
class or your own kids!

*Easter Reward Stickers - 60/pkg (215 yen)
Japanese students love stickers, and what better way to
'internationalize'(can you tell I was a JET?) than using
Easter stickers. An overstock from last year, these
stickers are 50 percent off at the Foriegn Buyers Club, a
good deal available on a first-come, first-served basis.

*Mini Cottontail and Carrot Erasers - 144/pkg. (345 yen)
This is a great prize for games or other activities if
you're teaching, because stationery supplies are a very
popular reward. The cute white rabbit and carrot designs
are sure to leave a good impression. Also 50% off at
Foriegn Buyers Club.

*Dudley's Egg Color Kit - 1 EA (490 yen)
The basic kit, but more than enough for your average
egg-dyeing party. Includes 6 crystal color packets,
9 egg holders, 88 Easter stickers, 1 plastic egg dying
tray (I find an egg carton works just as well), 1 egg
dipper, and 1 wax crayon. The best part: no smelly
vinegar needed - just add water and color. Very popular
for kids' Easter parties.

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+++ FRUGAL TIPS (Natural Easter Egg Dyes)
(Adapted from http://frugalliving.about.com/cs/easter/a/eggcolors.htm

First wash the eggs in mild soap and warm water. Boiling
or soaking the eggs longer will make the color deeper.

Use a teaspoon of vinegar to help set the dye in these
colors. Add it about the same time you add an egg.

Green: Save the water from canned or fresh cooked spinach
and boil eggs in it. Pale yelow: Add carrot tops, celery
seed, or orange peel to water for boiling eggs.
Deep yellow: Put ground tumeric in the water for boiling
eggs, or use yellow onion skins.
Tan: Coffee or tea.
Blue: Red cabbage leaves. Boil the leaves in water, then
use the cool liquid to dye boiled eggs.
Lavender: Purple grape juice.
Pink: Use the liquid from canned or pickeled beets, or red
onion skins.

(Note: Unless you plan to actually use the above
ingredients in addiiton to dyeing with them, it might
be cheaper to buy the chemical color packs!)
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Written by: Wendy J. Imura (frugalwatch@japaninc.com)
Edited by: JI

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