PreCycle Day

PreCycle Day is a Worthington-wide, curbside, free exchange of re-usable items. The next PreCycle Day is Saturday, August 16, 2014 - rain or shine.

Spread the word about PreCycle Day by displaying this spiffy YARD SIGN the week before the event.  Click here to get a sign.

Visit the PreCycle Day Facebook page Facebook  Follow PreCycle Day on Twitter

How to participate

Join Worthington residents in a city-wide free exchange of reusable, no-longer-needed items, at curbside in front of your homes. It's easy! Here's how:

  • Set out re-usable items (not trash) and then check out other offerings in your neighborhood.

  • Residents within the City of Worthington are eligible to set out re-usable items for PreCycle Day - some exceptions apply; so, see details in the "Eligibility" section below.

  • Please keep items neat and orderly.

  • All treasures that you claim are in an "as is" condition. No perishable items permitted.

  • PreCycle Day is not a garage sale. Everything is free and is located curbside or in driveways or front lawns along the sidewalks.

  • Shoppers, please do not confuse PreCycle items with non-PreCycle items in the front yard - sometimes, residents or their children leave stuff in the front yard that is not for PreCycle.  When in doubt about an item, assume it is NOT for PreCycle.

  • To help neighbors recognize your PreCycle items, consider downloading, printing and posting this FREE PreCycle sign beside your PreCycle items.

If you wish to conduct a garage sale on PreCycle Day, please remember that you must obtain a garage sale permit ($2 in 2010) at City Hall, and that all garage sale items must be kept separate from PreCycle items.

Since PreCycle Day moved to Saturday in 2013, there is no trash pickup the day after PreCycle Day.  Please remove all leftover PreCycle items at your curb before Sunday and find a home where those items will be used.  One way is to post a message about your leftovers- on a local Facebook page that deals with giving away free stuff.  Here are three such pages local to the Worthington area: PreCycleDay, Worthington Estates Free/Lend/Borrow or Colonial Hills Free/Lend/Borrow.  You can also do "instant" PreCycle any day of the year by posting a picture and a description of your reusable item on any of the 3 FaceBook pages above. We also recommend contacting these organizations or your favorite charity.

If you live in an apartment or condominium within Worthington, please check with your property manager or condo association before setting out reusable items for PreCycle Day.

Why participate in PreCycle Day?

You will:

  • keep re-usable items from the landfill and recycle stream (including items too small for the weekly "junk-pickers" to notice);

  • save the energy required to process trash and recycled items;

  • unclutter that garage, back bedroom, closet and basement;

  • save yourself and your neighbors from spending money to buy those items in a store;

  • save energy and resources that won't be spent to manufacture new instances of the items you retrieve;

  • connect with your neighbors - building stronger bonds with them;

  • make Worthington a better place to live!

Eligibility - Who can set stuff out for PreCycle

Question: Does where you live determine whether you are eligible to set out stuff on PreCycle Day?

    Answer: There are many goals/benefits of PreCycle Day.  One goal is making the local community more "sustainable".  A big way to do that is to strengthen bonds between neighbors.  Sustainable Worthington (SW), the creator of PreCycle Day, focuses on sustainability within the city of Worthington because SW has very limited resources with which to organize and promote PreCycle Day.  SW does not have enough resources to expand PreCycle Day beyond the municipal city limits of Worthington.  If you live outside of the city of Worthington, you can create a PreCycle Day in your neighborhood.  See the section farther below entitled "How to Start a PreCycle Event".

Q: Can I set out re-usables for PreCycle Day if I live within the City of Worthington in an apartment or a condominium?

    A: Check with your property manager or condo association before setting out reusable items for the PreCycle event.  Remember to retrieve leftovers immediately AFTER the event.

Spreading the word about PreCycle Day

Please help spread the word about PreCycle Day to your Worthington neighbors.

Yard signs

PreCycle Yard Sign

Want to increase neighborhood participation in future PreCycle Days?  Imagine yard signs throughout Worthington neighborhoods, announcing upcoming PreCycle Days!

Click here to have a (totally free) sign put in your yard the week before PreCycle Day - especially if you live on a high traffic street.  You can have this sign in your yard whether you set stuff out on PreCycle Day or not.

Sustainable Worthington’s PreCycle Committee began its “adopt-a-PreCycle-yard-sign” program in 2013.Through a grant from the City of Worthington’s Neighborhood Development Grant Program, Sustainable Worthington has a limited number of preprinted, reusable PreCycle Day yard signs available to good yards within Worthington.

Distribute flyers

Please download, then print and distribute FREE full-page flyers and quarter-page handbills.  Several "fans" of PreCycle Day distribute the quarter-page handbills to all homes on their street or nearby streets - not ringing doorbells; rather, putting the flyer under the corner of the doormat.  Hint - to save money, print the flyer/handbill in black ink (not color) on brightly colored paper.

If you plan to distribute, let us know which streets you are doing or at what events you do it.  We are keeping a master list, to avoid duplication.

For the 2 weeks before PreCycle Day, Sustainable Worthington plans to place a sign about PreCycle Day on the Village Green.

The Worthington Public Service Department has graciously agreed to place PreCycle signs at entrances to Worthington neighborhoods, similar to signs they place to notify of Fall Leaf Pickup or to notify of an irregular day for weekly trash pickup. Sustainable Worthington gratefully acknowledges advice and support from the Worthington Public Service Department.

If you would like to help "get the word out" about PreCycle Day in other ways, please Contact Us.

At the end of PreCycle Day...

Since PreCycle Day is on Saturday, there is no trash pickup for the next five days (until Friday).  So, you must remove all of your leftover curbside PreCycle by 6pm Saturday.  (If leftovers are still there Sunday morning, City Council may withdraw its support for holding PreCycle on Saturdays.) ; Find a home where those items will be used.  One way is to post them on a local Facebook page that deals with giving away free stuff.  Here are three such pages local to the Worthington area: PreCycleDay, Worthington Estates Free/Lend/Borrow or Colonial Hills Free/Lend/Borrow.  Another idea that we recommend is contacting these organizations or your favorite charity.

Goals and Planning Elements of PreCycle

The goals of PreCycle Day are:

  • keep re-usable items from the landfill and recycle stream (including items too small for weekly "junk-pickers" to notice);

  • save the energy required to process trash and recycled items;

  • unclutter that garage, back bedroom, closet and basement;

  • save yourself and your neighbors from spending money to buy those items in a store;

  • save energy and resources that won't be spent to manufacture new instances of the items you retrieve;

  • connect with your neighbors;

  • make Worthington a better place to live;

  • celebrate Earth Day!

Key planning elements include:

  • ensuring no local neighborhood/community rules are being violated by having the event,

  • getting enough residents setting out enough re-usables,

  • getting enough local "shoppers" to show up

  • try to minimize "destructive shoppers" from participating.  These are persons who are interested only in non-reusable aspects of the re-usable items.  What's that mean?  It usually means they want the metal part of the items.  They have cut off electrical cords to re-sell the copper in the wire.  They have also dis-assembled the item, taking only the metal parts which they intend to re-sell.  This defeats the re-usability goal of PreCycle day!!

The History of PreCycle Day

The idea was first mentioned in a discussion in July 2009 among Sustainable Worthington (SW) members who were chatting via a SW mailing list focusing on recycling - "we should have a freecycle community garage sale. only free items". In September, another SW member emailed about wanting to find a home for some shoes. Then, in October, a few SW members discussed it with a city council member during a Simply Living luncheon. After that, a SW member researched some similar efforts in other US communities. She also spoke with Worthington's City Manager and a member of Worthington's Department of Public Service and garnered their strong support for the idea. In December and January, a group of 4 SW members formed the SW PreCycle Planning Group, and met three times to define specific strategies and steps to make PreCycle Day happen. That group met with staff from the Public Service Department to iron out details related to city support.

In February 2010, the Planning Group presented its plan for the event to Worthington City Council along with words and memo of support from city staff. Council unanimously approved a resolution instructing city staff to support preparation for the event. The two local community newspapers reported Council's approval (and later published reminder articles the week before the event).

The planning group expanded to about 8 SW members and preparations proceeded until the day of the event. Preparations included: email announcements, creating and distributing 300 handbills door to door and 300 via free handout kiosk at Old Worthington Library; design, paint and post a 4ftX5ft sign displayed on the Village Green two weeks prior to event. The city of Worthington printed and displayed seven signs along neighborhood gateway streets and posted a notice about PreCycle Day on the gateway page of the City's website.

PreCycle Day Awarded SWACO's Good Neighbor Emarld

On May 17, 2011, PreCycle Day was awarded SWACO's Good Neighbor Emerald!!! Read all about it here. SWACO's award is testament to the Worthington community's commitment to sustainability. 

PreCycle Day Moved to Saturdays and Expanded to August in 2013

PreCycle Days have been held annually, in April, since 2010 and also in August beginning in 2013.  The 4th Annual PreCycle Day was Saturday, April 27, 2013.  

The first three PreCycle Day events were held during Earth Week.  They began on Wednesday evening (6pm) and ended 8pm the following day (Thursday).  In 2013, the day of the event was moved to Saturday.  Click here to see the results of the online survey held the week after the April 27, 2013 PreCycle Day.  Here is a PREview article about 2013's April PreCycle event.

Having the event on a Saturday means that ALL LEFTOVERS MUST BE REMOVED FROM CURBSIDE BEFORE SUNDAY.

In PreCycle Day's first 3 years (2010-2012), items left curbside after PreCycle ended Thursday evening were taken by the refuse hauler with whom The City contracts to collect refuse every Friday.

Although leaving not-taken re-usable items out for trash pickup on Friday is "easy" for the property owner, having those re-usable items dumped into a landfill (or sent into a recycling stream) is not "easy" on the environment or the economy.  Please retrieve all leftovers from your curbside and find a new home for them.  Two suggestions: 1) Post the item on these three local Facebook pages: PreCycleDay, Worthington Estates Free/Lend/Borrow or Colonial Hills Free/Lend/Borrow;  2) Or, contact these organizations, or your favorite charity.

While it's a bit more work to retrieve your leftovers, consider it your way of improving Worthington's "sustainability score".  Also, did you know that City ordinance prohibits setting stuff out on the curb earlier than Thursday, the day before trash day (Friday).

How to Start a PreCycle Event

We certainly hope that more PreCycle events take root beyond the city limits of Worthington. Similar events occurred in other places prior to Worthington's first PreCycle Day.

With a bit of research and preparation, a PreCycle event may be possible in your neighborhood/community. Like several successful community events in smaller cities (Worthington's population is about 14,000), PreCycle Day can be launched if a few residents commit to and execute some key organizing. In larger cities, the event might not need to be city wide, but it would need to involve some minimal number of neighborhoods to generate enough stuff and enough "shoppers" to ensure that most items are taken. We do not have a good sense of what those minimal numbers are. We would appreciate learning of other places that have similar events.  We are eager to talk to anyone thinking of starting such an event in their community - we have learned a lot and want to share our knowledge; so, please Contact Us.

What other communities had events like Worthington's PreCycle Day before Worthington's PreCycle Day began in April 2010? We did not look extensively. We know that Beaconsfield Quebec (population 19,000 - a west suburb of Montreal) started one in 2007 or 2008. Also, we've been told that a neighborhood in one of the boroughs of New York City has had one for years. Search the internet for "National Curb Day", which (probably) began in 2009. Also, Salt Lake City was an early benchmark - SLC held an annual city-wide clean out day which is a bit different than PreCycle's goals.

We estimate that for the first Worthington PreCycle Day, a total of 150 to 200 volunteer hours of effort was spent. Most of this time came from about six SW members. Also, city staff spent a few hours preparing.

The key thing is a few people (probably residents) taking the lead, possibly along with some support from city staff. The major preparation steps are 1) ensuring the legality of setting stuff at curbside, 2) adequately advertising the event to potential participants and 3) educating participants about how to handle leftovers after the event ends.  In previous Worthington PreCycle Day events, most residents experienced very few leftovers. This website goes into a lot of detail about how SW encouraged residents to not dispose of leftovers as trash. In Worthington, we have the good fortune to have enough residents eager to participate, good local papers to tell about the event (before and after), and very supportive city staff and leaders.

Previous PreCycle Days in Worthington

    Results from the 2010 PreCycle Day, held from 6pm Wed, April 21, until 8pm Thurs, April 22

    This first PreCycle Day in Worthington was a great success.  Almost everything that residents set out found new homes.  Over 50% of the items were taken the fisrt (Wednesday) evening.  The weather was rain free and warm during both Wednesday evening and all day Thursday.  Local newspapers published articles reviewing the results of the 2010 PreCycle Day in Worthington.  One review was in This Week in WorthingtonThe Columbus Dispatch published a great review, too.

    Results from the 2011 PreCycle Day, held from 6pm Wed, April 20, until 8pm Thurs, April 21

    The 2nd Annual PreCycle Day in Worthington saw rainy weather for several days before the event's start at 6pm on Wednesday.  This resulted in somewhat fewer items being set out.  BUT, just before the official start time (Wed 6pm), the rain stopped.  Many enthusiastic shoppers participated, resulting in many items being taken on Wednesday.  As happened in 2010, almost everything that residents set out found new homes.  Local paper, This Week in Worthington, published this review.

Results from the 2012 PreCycle Day, held from 6pm Wed, April 18, until 8pm Thurs, April 19

The 3rd Annual PreCycle Day in Worthington had cool but not rainy weather.  This resulted in somewhat fewer items being set out and fewer participants.  As in previous years the most intense period was Wednesday evening.  Several people set items out earlier on Wednesday.  As happened the previous 2 years, almost everything that residents set out found new homes.  Some participants experienced some shoppers taking only valuable metal parts of re-usable items, to sell the metal.  This destroyed the items.  Cords were cut off of electrical devices for the copper wire in the cord, or a larger item was torn apart for just the metal parts parts.  These problems were reported in Worthington Estates but mainly in Colonial Hills. Local paper, This Week in Worthington, published both this preview and this review.

Results from the 2013 PreCycle Days, held Sat, April 27, 9am-6pm and Sat Aug 10, 9-6

The 4th Annual PreCycle Day on April 27 in Worthington had good weather. This was the first time PreCycle Day was held on a Saturday.  An online survey the week after the event showed that most of the 97 respondents thought turnout was lower than April 2012.  Click here to see the results of that online survey.  The reasons for moving to the last Saturday in April were:

    • Increase resident participation because residents have more free time on weekends.
    • Increased resident participation also furthers the “Hi Neighbor” goal promoted by the Community Relations Commission (CRC).
    • Decrease the danger to walking school children, from the increased vehicle traffic that occurs during the PreCycle event (no school on Saturday).
    • Decrease the number of PreCycle "party crashers" who are increasingly appearing to destroy items to take only metal parts, including cutting off electric cords for the copper, presumably to sell the metal. This destruction destroys a main goal of PreCycle – to extend the life of a usable item. On a Saturday, those shoppers may be more likely to be doing something more important. Also, there will be more residents’ “eyes on the street” on Saturday since most residents do not go to work on Saturday.
    • Moving to the last Saturday in April provides a slightly better chance for better weather.
    • Having more residents’ “eyes on the street” (on a Saturday) will deter some “shoppers” from taking items in front yards (not by the curb) that were not set out for PreCycle.

A significant majority of survey respondents were supportive of having future PreCycle Days on Saturdays.  One of the constant "complaints" about PreCycle Day continues to be that people say they did not know about the event, despite advertisement through many forms of media.  As a result the PreCycle Committee applied for and was awarded a Neighborhood Grant from the City of Worthington, to purchase several reusable yard signs, to be displayed throughout Worthington neighborhoods the week before future PreCycle Days.

Two PreCycle Days in the same year

These signs were first displayed in yards the week before the August 10, 2013, PreCycle Day.  This second PreCycle Day was a result of continual suggestions by some residents to have the event in better weather and before students return to college.  For the August event, PreCycle Committee created a Twitter account, to compliment its already-existing Facebook page.  Local paper, This Week in Worthington, published this preview on August 1, 2013.

More Information

Other communities are copying Worthington's PreCycle Event.

Grandview Heights (another suburb of Columbus) held its first PreCycle type event on Sunday, May 8, 2011, on the lawn of the Grandview Heights Library.  The suburb of Reynoldsburg held a PreCycle event in May 2012.  The suburb of Westerville held a similar event in Spring 2012.  Check the picture and story here.

In February 2012, Sustainable Worthington learned that the community of Glen Innes in eastern Auckland, New Zealand was planning to create a PreCycle event modeled on Worthington's PreCycle Day.

For questions or more information regarding PreCycle Day, please Contact Us.