GRAFENWOEHR, Germany -- It's called a "gift economy" and by all accounts, it's a win-win situation. The idea is simple: Drop off used items you no longer need or desire, (appliances, electronics and clothes, etc.) and search though an array of replaceable gifts. No money is exchanged, and no usable items will crowd an already overflowing landfill. One man's trash freely becomes another man's treasure.

"Freecycle" facilities are popping up all over the U.S., and beginning Earth Day, Grafenwoehr will reap the benefits of this display of community giving. The Grafenwoehr Freecycle, located in Building 441, will host its grand opening April 22, from 10 a.m.-noon. Building 441 is right next to the Grafenwoehr Car Care Center, across the street from the baseball fields near Gate 6.

The center will accept and offer reusable items to community members for free in support of U.S. Army Garrison Grafenwoehr's Net Zero Waste Initiative.

"Freecycle helps us meet our goals of the Net Zero Waste Initiative by removing usable items from our waste stream and reducing disposal costs," said Jeffrey Heath, chief of operations and maintenance for Directorate of Public Works.

Heath added that Freecycle also promotes the idea of waste reduction by offering a venue for unwanted items so those items don't end up in the trash.

Donations can be dropped off 24 hours a day to a bright yellow bin that sits outside the building. Exchanges and shopping can be done Tuesdays from 10 a.m.-2 p.m.

Trash and recycle bins have been conveniently placed near the building to allow proper disposable of any and all items brought. A donation bin is also available at the Rose Barracks Recycle Facility, which is next to the Central Issue Facility (CIF), Building 102.

"I can see this being of great service to young Soldiers and families who may not have a lot of extra income," said Heath. "There is no risk, just a place to collect free goods."

Currently, the Grafenwoehr Freecycle store is run with the help of community volunteers, and their goal is to make the Freecycle experience seamless and efficient. If community members don't want to hassle with selling their clothes or leaving them on consignment somewhere, Freecycle will gladly hand them over to a deserving recipient.

While volunteers will run the shop, which eliminates the cost of manpower, the 24-hour drop-off site on Grafenwoehr will remain unmanned. However, with this bare bones set-up comes social responsibility. For it to work, everyone must do his part.

"We need the community's support on this," said Werner Ohla, chief utilities branch, DPW, as he fished a pair of paint-splattered jeans out of the metal recycle bin.

This is where common sense should come in. Placing items in inappropriate bins costs the garrison money, as it requires timely sorting. When dropping off, it is imperative that community members place items in the correct bins.

"We need to prevent this space from becoming a dumping ground," said Ohla, adding that the Freecycle cannot thrive unless the community works together to maintain it.

It should be easy as the bins are clearly marked. If questions should arise or if you are unsure about a specific item, visit the shop during operation hours and the staff will gladly point you in the right direction.

Additionally, a few rules must be followed to shop at the Grafenwoehr Freecycle:
1. Only I.D. cardholders are authorized to receive items.
2. No resale (eBay or flea market).
3. No claim right against the Army or operating staff, items are taken at own risk.
4. First come, first served; there are no reservations.
5. Maximum 5 items per day allowed.
6. Be respectful to the staff; they are volunteers.

Freecycle is projected to save the garrison more than 5,000 euros in disposal costs per year. The community is projected to save even more within the first few months of opening. Furthermore, Freecycle strengthens the idea of reduce, reuse and recycle.

"We are a culture of disposal and it's our responsibility to educate the community," said Health. "In the end, we can all benefit."

Mother Earth and your pocketbook will surely agree.