Tuesday, 29 April 2014

Why a federal South Sudan

As I write this, Riek Machar is in the bush fighting for the survival of the dream of a just and equal South Sudan while  the rest of the world is grasping at straws or is pretending that Silva Kiir is just another politician who's head has been filled with the desire of power past the point of recognizing reason.

The truth is far less simple and the root of the problem is to be found in the very nature of the old Sudan and the way even the South of the country operated from 1957 onwards. South Sudan much like the rest of the country it broke away from, is far from homogeneous. It is a place where a multitude of peoples, some more numerous than others, live cheek by jowel with each other in a mixed society that only found an identity when the desire for an independent South Sudan got enough traction within the ranks of the SPLA/SPLM and it's splinter movements over the years. As far back as John Garang, there was always a plan to create a federated Sudan or Riek Machar's plan do the same to an independent South Sudan.

John Garang

Why federalism? What is the attraction of a system that creates a filtering of power from the people v the direct application of power by the all the people over the entire region?  It's simple,  South Sudan is not easily lumped into one chamber and one identity in that sort of organic natural way that you could say.... expect of Portugal. Tribally or ethnically the end result of a Presidential system leads to the selection of  a leader by all Southern Sudanese who is flawed in as much as the only possible result is yet another Dinka or Nuer who will think of nobody else or Riek Machar who along with his alies was always for a more representative leadership that took into account the needs of the entire nation. Such a system requires all Equatorians to band together and support one party or create a party that will somehow attract votes from across the country, but inevitably, never enough to win the presidency. But in a federal system with a prime minister, such a party in a parliamentary system would be very powerful indeed.

When  I was working for RASS many years ago during the long dark years of struggle, we realized quickly that the creation of an identity for the new country would not come from ethnicity,  but from the cooperation of many ethnicities in the fashion that had always existed. Towit; every time there was a Gordian knot of  massive proportions to cut through, it was done by people from smaller, less populous tribes from Equatoria. This worked for the simple reason that traditional mediation by such peoples was accepted by the much larger tribes on the basis that these smaller groups would not propose any solution that would allow for a worse situation in which they themselves would be hurt and by extension the rest of the country would be equally protected from further disagreement that usually stemmed from a Dinka Nuer conflict, that  as we have just seen , could lead to bloodshed on a massive scale.

Why this traditional tribal structure that has worked for decades was set aside, I do not know. The current  artificial presidential model has led to numerous policy disasters not least of which was the apparent decision that it would be a good idea for Dinka cow herders to take over farm land in Equatoria for grazing in the name of the national interest. This national interest is little more than the more obvious example of Dinkocracy in which the winner of the presidential vote got to make policy for his people, not all the people, just his people.

If there had a been a properly set up federal system with a proportionally balanced and weighed amount of seats by region in a national Parliament that could counter weigh such tendencies as have rocked the country in the last year, we could have avoided this entire bloody mess.  The mere feeling backed up by unchecked political power  that one man  from one tribe could today favour the Dinkas  and the next one the Nuer, sets up a perpetual see saw of conflict that will doom South Sudan to faliure before it's got on it's own two feet. The moderating influence of Equatorian counter weight in any discussion means that no policy will ever be adopted in Juba that isn't genuinely in the national interest.

After the shooting stops from the latest  round of violence, it would be nice to see the creation of a party political system that isn't based on ethnic or regional loyalty. There is need to establish such an ideological/practical array of  political division or there will be a repeat of  incidents like the ones plaguing South Sudan right now.  National interest cannot be created nor can a national consensus exist as long as people do not rise above the current voting patterns. I am aware from as early as the years just prior to the peace agreement and the cooling off period following the end of the war of liberation, that the only way we created consensus in the North American diaspora was when we made people leave the tribal divisions at the door. Only then were we able to create the list of jobs needed to do when the time came, the list of priority spending targets when the money became available.  At the end of the day at every one of those conferences we knew that almost everybody in the room had lost people to the bullets and bombs of Khartoum. How many hours, days , weeks and months were spent building the consensus that created the new identity of  "South Sudanese". How could we allow petty self interest now that the country is liberated , ruin what could be one of the most prosperous nations in Africa.

South Sudanese is not something you can point to in an anthropology study or linguistic map of Africa, South Sudanese is as artificial as American, Canadian or even Italian.  A country as large as Western Europe, with as many linguistic groupings and regions cannot be expected to become ONE seamless perfect identity overnight,  but with the help of a federal system and the taking into account of all the regional and ethnic interests in decision making, it wouldn't take long for a stable albeit new identity to take root. Tribalism should give way to multiculturalism and cooperation, a society where it is ok to be Dinka , Nuer  or any other tribe and still be like a brother or sister to your fellow South Sudanese. Celebrate your diversity, but never forget that the nation was forged in the blood and the steel of all the peoples of South Sudan, not just those of the current presidency.

In the years I served the Movement ( SPLM/SPLA indepence then SSIM/SSIA ) in my RASS capacity, I was proud to be part of a process that slowly over time took people from a disconnected group of people with a similar strugle against oppression, to a path where all concerned were agreed that there should be a country called South Sudan and that the country should learn from the errors of the North. To be clear, what precisely did the North do ? How did they treat the South from the 1950's to the last day the bullet flew?  Sisal, sesame and coffee, all crops that would have made South Sudan prosperous were suppressed or stolen and the profits all went to Khartoum, oil revenues and fields were entirely in the control of the North while population centres from Juba, Malakal, Torit and others were bombed and destabilised. Is this what people really want to do yet again but this time in the name of  skewed national self interest? Should  Equatoria be made the next South, to be marginalized and maltreated at the hands of a string of un representative non pan-national leaders whose only desire is to insure the comfort of one large tribe or the other?

What is required now is a meritocracy in the civil service, national bank, judiciary and police, the estblishment of a fully British styled assembly with the power to name a Prime Minister from amongst it's own, empowered to run federal affairs via a cabinet also named of assembly members supporting the PM's party.  This federal assembly needs to however work with and for the various interests as represented by the states or provinces that speak for specific regions and the interests that arise from that region's resources and talents. The benefits of strong provincial governments and strong federal government mean the tight balancing act between regional interests, national interests and good common sense solutions to problems  that otherwise left to fester, will only lead later to the sort of bloodshed we have seen or the ultimate dissolution of South Sudan and the glee of many who said it should never have been allowed to go it alone.

I know the desire of my old boss Commander Chairman Riek Machar and all those that were imprisoned  and now recently released, as well as all of those under them, was to make South Sudan a rich, prosperous and fair country. I would like to think that if Silva Kiir has the best interests of the country at heart, he would rapidly move to make sure the talks start soon and the reforms put in place quickly. I however will not hold my breath, I was aware early on that there was every possibility that because Riek Machar, or for that matter anybody else, could have beaten Mr Kiir, trouble was brewing. When, the mass firing occurred after the removal of  VP Machar, I knew that paranoia had taken hold. Such was the situation that only the blindest could not see the bloodbath to come.  That the UN and the rest of the world are doing nothing to stop Uganda from propping up the rotten and dangerous regime of Silva Kiir is even more distressing given the extra work this gives the rebels who would otherwise have cleared the crumbling vestiges of legitimacy and power still left.

Riek Machar

As it is, it would appear that the South Sudanese diaspora is coming to side with Riek Machar and his rebels, most recently the Dinka community in Minnesota has joined in the many other voices calling for the toppling of the current president of the country. One hopes this ends soon and the rebuilding can start without delay.

Friday, 25 April 2014

The far right, UKIP and why we should vote in the European elections

May 22nd Europe will vote, even the bit of Europe that isn't on the continent, yes, by that I mean the UK.  What's interesting is that until about last week I thought UKIP and Nigel Farage were going to be the embarrassing winners of  a lightly attended vote thus sticking them further and more firmly on the front pages of every newspaper in the land. Turns out however that in the last few days the shine has come off of the UKIP penny, and that by their own hand.

By making it known that the money guy paying for the ads won't let the party craft the message and accepting the message this man is putting out, UKIP acknowledge once and for all they are out and out racists. No better than the BNP, The National Front and the EDL. It gets worse for them and better for us, suddenly, it would appear, parties including the Lib Dems and Labour are growing a spine, saying nice things about immigrants, talking about the real issues  of  a level labour playing field and the unchecked power of big business. The deflection of immigration and other racial issues that seemed to seep into the mainstream with the disgraceful apology by Gordon Brown for having called a racist ,  shock..... Racist, and seemed to have slipped in the  way of reasoned discussion is now giving way to a more cautious and careful approach that has in recent days broken into a full blown defence of the previously indefensible. Faced with a choice of allowing the further radicalisation of the British electorate  or fighting back, the instinct seems to finally show the revulsion of having to compete for the same handful of racist bigots who are even now tearing the Tory party to pieces. In point of fact, the rise of UKIP is directly tied to the moment the mainstream parties abandoned the moral high ground and egged on Farage and his goons in the hope of hurting the left or hurting the right. All three parties are guilty of  not seeing the danger earlier. Like the German power brokers who thought they could harness Hitler in the hope he would stop the left, they learned, tho not fast enough, that there was no holding him back once they had given him the room to grow and flourish. Are Nigel Farage and UKIP, Hitler and his Nazis? God no, but only because most of us like to think that no one would actually vote for these barking mad pedlars of fear. So far so good.

For an interesting read.... Is UKIP a party of  bigots from the New Statesman.

Links with European far-right parties ( from the article cited above)

Ukip is part of the group Europe of Freedom and Democracy (EFD). The group includes representatives of the Danish People’s Party, the True Finns Party, the Dutch SGP and the infamous Italian Lega Nord – all of them far-right. Nigel Farage is co-President of the group along with Lega Nord’s Francesco Speroni, who described multiple murderer Anders Breivik as someone whose “ideas are in defence of western civilisation."

That said, I don't for a second think that a person who is a racist and ignorant of the general easily verifiable truth out there will stop being a racist in a sudden flash of remorse; that would be too Moffat  love conquers all, but I do think that people who might have bought into the surface bile and lies and might have voted UKIP now won't. They will either stay at home or vote for parties that aren't trying to ignite a race war in the streets of Britain. What with Russia, Ukraine and fuel prices showing conclusively that we not only need the EU to stop WW3 but we need it to establish a fair social and economic balance across all of Europe. If enough rational people vote on May 22nd, the rise of the far right will not be contributed to by voters in the UK, it may even be given a solid kick in the chops by greens, socialists and even fiscal conservatives across Europe who have no problem with gays, blacks, Jews, Muslims, Romanians or Polish plumbers.

The sickening tone of the far right message regardless of where it comes from is the single greatest cause of concern in Europe today, and if isn't, it should be. The rise of the far right and it's reach into the very heart of the discussion of what it means to be European and where we should go as a block,  has so intruded on the debate, it has derailed the very real important questions that need asking even now. Is it necessary to re-arm the constituent states in order to protect ourselves from Russian hunger? Can we create a larger fairer marketplace for labour and manufacturing to thrive where even now some governments would prefer to keep stifling protectionist measures up. What ever happened to the green agenda? Like all the other issues, it's been sidetracked by apologists, climate change deniers and Eurosceptics intent on showing how bad the EU is by trying to break it.

As long as the right continues to pillory immigrants, we continue to loose sight of things like  recently released figures  showing an increasingly aged population with a shrinking pool of young people in employment also being asked to care for the elderly. Any nation state that permits immigrants, will have an easy pool of working tax payers to cushion this blow, those that wish to remain closed off will find not only that the ill equipped poorly trained local labour force is not willing to take up certain jobs but is also simply not trained to.  If you want your society to collapse, by all means, stop immigration.

And if that weren't enough.... the jobs these immigrants are going to steal have been created by a ratio of 6 out of 7 by other immigrants. In my time in North America and here in the UK I have always been aware of a certain over representation of ethnics and immigrants in the riskier parts of the economy. These people, these dangerous people, are  the ones who have been creating jobs for decades and will continue to do so. And yet, we see the ignorant and the closed minded politics of the far right in every corner of Europe scoring points on the backs of Gypsies, Jews, Turks, Africans and Muslims amongst many other selected targets. How can these people get on with life and what they do best when around every corner there are parties who's principle aim is to come to power by solving the economic woes of a country by advocating the 4th Reich?

Most recently has the acceptability of anti-Semitism, which had been on the wane overall and had in fact all but disappeared in some places, become so strong that a group of  Russian sponsored activists thought it was ok to pass out a pamphlet that appeared to officially demand that Jews in the Donetsk region register or leave. In Hungary an anti semetic and anti muslim party is the 3rd largest in Parliament, Nordic democracies long known for tolerance and social activism are lurching to the right with Muslims first and foremost in the line of fire, but hardly exclusively.

Mosley black shirts
In the 1930's, Europe from the streets of London to the Black sea, was awash with strong  read brutal regimes and parties that espoused a view of the world that we thought had died with the extinguishing of the last oven in the last German concentration camp in 1945. Alas, even the upheavals and soul searching of the 60's and 70's has not extinguished the appeal of the far right. As a child who's own father's family was split between fascist and socialist, I chose to insure in the most absolute way that never again would a Nazi, Fascist or other such scum be allowed to flourish let alone come to power. I have a bookshelf full of books  about rebuilding entire nations dating from the post war period, all of them demonstrating the incredible waste of resources and the destruction of cultural, commercial and agricultural capacity that took in some cases  over a decade to recover  and some cases never, as for the human toll, not including military deaths and collateral damage to civilians, over 12 million died in the camps that we know of .  Do we really want to go through that all over again?

So with  the next great European war simmering away on the front burner in Ukraine, Putin being hailed by the right as a strong leader who should be admired and an economic crisis hanging over the Eurozone and Europe over all, what are the actual issues that should be exorcising people today? I'm glad you asked.  How about getting on with the job of finding a new source of gas and oil other than Russia till we find new greener ways to keep warm, cook and build things. Extending the benefits of justice to every corner of the EU, keeping open a road and rail system that hasn't been this free and easy to use since the start of WW 1.  Creating a better Euro or finding another way to insure the economies of Europe already interlincked one way or the other don't fall victim to the poor judgement of one country or one sector. How about training people to participate in labour intensive lucrative industrial sectors that would make multiple parts of Europe, World leaders in industries that will not fade and die as quickly as the dot com bubble or the building boom fuelled by reckless bankers who are still asking for double bonuses and want us to pay for their mistakes.

Of course to do that, European leaders and people themselves need to admit that some of this won't be easy, and issues like food security have to take into account reality and  be less driven  by the wide eyes innocence of the 70's and 80's. Issues like regional security will include a component of choosing to stop pretending that Russia under Putin is in any hurry to become part of the Union or to be democratic. Energy security which has become more pressing since the ongoing problems in Ukraine, recently hotted up, is far from resolved. There is a school of thought that feels regulatory powers are used with little regard to reality or regional circumstances. A more focussed approach by politicians and technocrats can find the solutions if the process is not distracted by growing numbers of far right protest parties who's only goal appears to be sabotage.

So what's so bad about having a few clown fish from every nation sitting in Strasbourg? Surely these far from rational people are not harming the greater dream of an integrated Europe? Well maybe they are. Every time deputations like those of UKIP do not vote on key issues or worse vote against what even the most Eurosceptic Tory would find reasonable , even important, they help create a block of hate that gives oxygen to the views of parties  like Golden Dawn, Jobbik and many others. Despite the lack of  awareness the average British voter has regarding The EU or because of it, small numbers of determined nutters are taking the jobs of what should be Tory, Labour, Lib Dem and Green MEPs . The voice of Britain in Europe is the sound of screeching hyenas baying at the moon and waving their toy plastic swords in defence of the fantasy white world that never existed. In their haste to show just how useless the European Parliament is, UKIP were 6 among the 14 to vote against a ban on elephant ivory poaching.  Just what did the elephants ever do to UKIP ? There isn't a day that doesn't go by where yet another elected UKIP swivel eyed loon pops his or her head over the ramparts for a shot at everything the Daily Mail hates and a few things even the Daily Mail have yet to hate.

And so what is it that will convince the great British electorate that what happens in Europe, even far off Kiev with whom the UK have 5 iron clad treaties of cooperation and defence, is as important to them as Paris, London or Manchester?  How will the suffering and deaths of people in Donetsk, the consequent ripples of worry all through Central Europe from Warsaw to Vienna, the utter misery of being Greek or Spanish in austerity finally convince Britons it has something to do with them? I would like to think they care now, but I know most of them are oblivious to events further than their doorstep and couldn't even name their own MP let alone consider what occurs in Brussels as significant to them. However there will come a time when the specific events in the Ukraine and the need for a united Pan European reaction to Putin and his empire will make it all very close to home. Will it take the near break out of WW3? Will it take the tripling of gas and oil prices? Will it perhaps come when the average Briton sees the rest of Europe as just another place where they can, like anybody else, go forth and seek work, their own back yard, the next county over.  Maybe then . At some point the people of Britain will take as seriously European elections as they do the ones to Westminster, till that day we need to keep working at getting the numbers up steadily in order to insure that come election night, we won't be sending any more UKIP etc... fruitcakes to  Brussels than we absolutely have to.

 I'll be voting Labour as they are part of the Socialist block (S & D), their platform is one  I find practical to apply, creating a world closer to my liking. I have chosen a path that is not hatred and isolation, I have chosen a path that promises a solution to the  challenges facing the greater society we live in. I urge you to explore the blocks on your own and see where you fit in. Be part of the dialogue that is Europe.

If you have not yet registered for the election , you have till May 6th.... don't delay.

Friday, 4 April 2014

A guide to the ethics of freecycling and recycling

The other day I brought a few things over to St Oswald's for them to sell or send to the rag and bone people. I now prefer to do this over the more conventional options supported by the city, such as just bin things on the day, put them in the recycling bin or bring them to the recycling centre near St-Peter's in Byker.  The practical truth is that these options are now less desirable than ethically distributing things between neighbours and donating to various charities.

Before we get to the how of Freecycling, let's look at the why.

The last two times I tried to use the recycling depot I was verbally abused by the officious little *&nts from the council running the place. Despite my heartfelt desire to bring electronic goods, rags and other things they were designed to take, I was barred from the place for having entered on the power of my own legs. Forget that I at the time lived two blocks away and didn't want to drive a car in ( or in my case  somebody else's), the facility is built on the exclusive notion that you will drive in and out, there is no pedestrian access. Because of the slavish devotion to health and safety as well as  the belief that people are too stupid to look out before walking into a place to see if there is any traffic, means that anybody using something smaller than a mini austin or with fewer than 3 wheels cannot bring any recycling into the centre. Good job City of Newcastle, for making the disposal of unwanted things more likely to end up being fly tipped. I am not the only one who feels this way  but repeated complaints have have done nothing to remedy the situation and now I depend on other means which I shall talk about in a bit.It still means that at the end of the day, there is an even greater probability that the item I would have brought there to be dealt with properly, be it electronics, old paint, cardboard or building materials, will end up in landfill and not be recycled at all.

So what about the recycling bin you say? The problem is not so much the sorting, that I don't mind, glass away from the rest, makes sense. The problem begins when you try to shoe horn things like rods or odd bits of plastic  that won't fit in. Try leaving the clearly for recycling cardboard boxes neatly folded and staked next to the bin and they ignore the stuff. You need to cut it up and tie it and put a pretty bow on it with a note telling the workers how  brilliant they are AND stuff it into the already  full bin. Left over building material not numerous enough to hire a skip lays unloved and untouched for weeks  or months  until some bright spark takes pitty on the stuff and cuts it up with saw or steals it in the night. So while the blue bin is ok for most stuff, the things most foisted on us despite our best efforts, are near impossible to get rid of.

The blue bin part 2: We don't create a lot of rubbish, in fact if it weren't for a bit of egg shell, trimmed veg and bones, we'd have no rubbish at all. We recycle as much as we can and try to buy things with as little packaging as possible. This means that our green bin is effectively a large unused space taker in front of the house.  What to do?  For starters, what if I could use it as a recycle bin as well?  Just need a council approved sign of some kind..... a signal of some kind that says it's not got any rubbish,  but today I have put a load of old papers and other things in that would not fit in the blue one. It would take a second for them to look.

The Brown bin: If you live in a place with a lawn , a garden or some other such place with vedure and root things that need regular tending, you'll know you can't mix in food waste,  you can't put in any sticks  over a certain length and you cannot put in anything that is not some kind of plant life. Fair enough about that,  but  during certain seasons you'll trim a lot more than one brown bin's worth, and it will take weeks to be rid of the stuff if  ever.  In short, If I can , and I can....we burn it. We can't be bothered to wait a month to reduce a day's garden waste. And if that wasn't bad enough, it's a limited service, miss the days and you're stuck with a bin full of grass cuttings till next season. Three guesses where all that grass ends up.  Personally, I just hide it in with the occasional regular rubbish I accumulate, but  little wonder  some people have wrong mindedly paved, astro turfed or concreted over their laws. These people who had a choice to be kind to the planet or free of one more job, chose to deny water yet a few hundred more square feet of  space to gently go into the ground. Wonder why there's so much flooding? there's one reason.

Composting: A fine idea, sometimes even supported by local councils  but mostly not. What do you need to compost? Enough waste that is clean ( uncontaminated ), clean kitchen waste, some paper, some space, a composting kit and a reason to make the stuff in the first place.  If you can't use it but your neighbour can, good.  But if you're not that lucky, who's going to take it away to be used at allotments, private gardens or local farms? Depending where you live, the service is spotty to none. Which brings me to us....We cook from scratch, buy fresh, mostly free of  packaging and only in the amounts we need in the case of food that will go off quickly. Food prep waste, mostly fruit, veg and egg shells, means we should compost, but we produce too little even with all the home cooking. We are forced to find novel ways to get rid of the stuff, and so we start here with the freecycling and the ethics of it all.  Faced with the dilemma of binning v making the world's smallest compost bin, we have been forced in the absence of a nearby compost bin to just bin the stuff in the closest  green bin owned by people who never heard of recycling, and believe me.... there are still way too many of them. It saddens us that until we finally turn over the yard and turn it into a our own small free hold farm  short of the chickens ( hums the good life theme), we are effectively forced to go against our own principles or end up knee deep in bits of onion and garlic skins.

Having lived a few places in my life, not least of which was a city that led the way with what we now call free cycling, I find myself turning to the old solutions, as they are still the best.

As a boy my grandmother taught me two important things.

Other peoples rubbish can and should be gold, but only if you need it or know people who need it . 


Always be clean and respectful of other people's property when reclaiming something into usefulness. 

It's amazing what perfectly good things people will bin. In my lifetime I have saved furniture, books, clothes, toys and games not to mention the abundant harvest of pumpkins, melons and other perfectly edible decorative veg that goes out the day after harvest festivals and Halloween. We lived on an unused clean 5 kg bag of lentils for two months once. Most recently we have acquired

1- a lawn mower
2- a strimmer
3- several antique non electric yard and kitchen gadgets that still work fine
4- enough spare parts to build or repair most of the appliances in the house
5- book cases, books, cd's
6- perfectly good computer peripherals including a kick ass set of mini speakers
7- Enough toddler toys to stock a day care.... which it did in the end
8- Art.... you will not believe the bounty off people with bad taste.

and FOOD.... food that thing that keeps us alive. When you move house and you bin perfectly good fresh food.... don't make it hard to get to, don't cover it in slime. Make it easy to find and take, and if you can spare the effort and time... offer it to somebody, anybody. It's food and it's a sin, a crime to waste it.

CLOTHING is another area we need to tread carefully on. Most clothes in this country end up in one of two places, the bin or increasingly, the charity shop. I used to run a charity and can tell that despite the most logical hygiene rules, people still donate underwear, aka stuff that has been near your genitals or bottom.  Do I even need to say why this is wrong????? Pants aside, most clothes, washed and in good condition deserve to be used by somebody. If we have lost weight and cannot take the clothes in ourselves or they are not worth the expense of a seamstress, we will bring the clothes to one of the many large metal boxes situated in convenient places and that are dry even in the wettest weather. Barring that, we always walk the clothes over to a charity shop near us to insure the goods are not ruined by passing dogs and other beasts that could open the bags up. That said, my wife and I have been the grateful recipients of clothes from others who thought we'd appreciate perfectly good clothes  that could fit us  but not the person offering.

Freecycling is easy and ethical if you follow a few simple principles

1- Assume somebody needs what you don't want any more:  This is true with furniture, appliances, art, books and kitchen things. My preferred way is to put things in plain sight a few days before the bin men come. What doesn't get taken by people who need it gets taken by the rag and bone men ( salvage ). If you feel uneasy about this, then call a proper charity that will place or sell on your things at a low price to those who will need it most. Avoid the charity that regularly breaks and bins most things  they get  if they cannot get  a good price off the antique dealers. Ask the questions and you'll be sure the goods ( not actual rubbish) get a new home as opposed to just taking longer to get to the landfill.  In fact the step before the charity is to ask around your neighbours or family before you put it put on the curb.  Even better, hold a garage sale, put a small price tag and shift it to somebody else's house.

2- When taking something from the tip behind the big grocery store: be careful to be clean, be careful to take only what you need and no more. In fact you can, if you think it will work, arrange to let the manager know you are taking the stuff and why.  Let them know that there are food banks and families that are going without while they bin industrial quantities of food every week.

3- When taking something from the yard of a person on or near the bin days: keep it clean, only take the stuff you can use and leave the rest for somebody else.

4- Give back: keep the cycle going, do not be ashamed of what you are doing and make sure you never break any laws.

5- If you have enough people or space to take food from the "not so perfect" back bin in large amounts, cook it, share it , freeze it , and share some more.

6- If you garden, swap with others, give away excess seeds so others can garden as well. Process your fruit and veg into something that will last and cook with it or bake with it.

7- Books: If you're not the type to hold onto books for long, find people willing to take them off you or sell them to used books shops. 

8- You are online: then use the swapping sites, be fair, be honest and never undervalue things  just because some idiot is giving things away for 25p.  Things have value, just try buying them new cheap or trying to find somebody willing to build it for you for free..... these things have value and so do the skills to make them.

9- lastly, in all of this, never loose sight of the fact that your act of generosity and consideration will be a reason to socialize more and be aware of your impact on the people around you. You are also reducing the amount of materials used to replace the binned things if you had to buy them new yourself. Consider that the next time you feel the need for a new phone a mere 4 or 5 months after you just upgraded. Waste is waste regardless of what end of the wheel you take it from.

Freecycling is not begging or scavenging for the sake of a temporary budgetary short fall, it's a way of life that goes goes back centuries and will survive the current greedy culture that just wants us to buy new things and replace them 5 minutes later with something newer. Hand me downs are not always a bad thing , they are thrift. Some children's clothing is made so well and so timeless that several generations can wear them before they are worn out. Freecycling as we know it now was started in New York City by middle-class people and socialites who grew tired of the waste and even at their rarified cost of living  were having to choose what they spent money on and what they preferred not to. That it took them back to the same values their parents and grandparents held barely 60 years ago is no accident.

Because of this way of life, I have learned how to cook with an assortment of novel unexpected ingredients, I have learned to repair appliances and acquired the skills to use tools that have been abandoned by an entire generation. I have made new friends and been introduced to new cultures.  My reach and impact into other people's lives is greater because I participate in the swapping, giving and reusing. The absolute ethical spine that drives the movement here and in other places is one that fights the instinct of some to isolate themselves and think only of themselves.

I don't for a second suggest that this is the ultimate way of life, this using old or slightly used things only. I feel it's important that you also spend some serious cash with skilled workmen, farmers and merchants who get up in the morning to make a living. I'm not raising the act of charitable giving above and beyond every other thing you can do to the distraction of profit and the destruction of the marketplace for skilled people.  We still need a functioning economy, but if you feel that wasting things is bad and you prefer to spend your money on things you can't make yourself, then freecycling is the route for you.

I do have one proviso about the reusing of things for the sake of reusing things...... Know the value of what you are about to destroy for the sake of arts and crafts, fashion or simple utility. If you are taking a first edition of 1984 to cut amusing shapes into , then you are desecrating a book, but if you take 50 copies of Jaws in paper back  to make coasters, you're ok. If you find vintage clothing and decide to cut it up for curtains, you could be insuring the destruction of the last of such an item. Underclothes especially are hard to find, but clothes of any kind  above a certain age are worth more intact than altered or damaged.  Do you need a spare part off an older thing that still works? be sure the main object is beyond use. Just because YOU don't see any value in the bit of furniture, book, record, painting etc.... does not give you the right to destroy it. Before you make the ultimate gesture of removing an object from it's principle reason of being, be damn sure it's beyond use, once it's gone, it's gone.

still using this

Here's a way my wife and I developed years ago and still use. We call it the Bench G-d,  we take a box or bags  of items we don't want and leave it on a park bench or bus stop. At some point, if we've chosen wisely, more than a few people who actually need the items will stop long enough and help themselves. It helps somtimes to put the word FREE in large friendly letters, but you don't have to. Friend of ours regularly does this by leaving books near the fireplace of her local pub, if anything, the place seems to breed more books now and all of them good for somebody.

A few interesting links you can use to follow up on this.

UK freecycle, a site where you .... swap or give away for free. 
Gumtree ,  sell your stuff
CT home Newcastle ... furniture, appliances service for the less well off.  Dealers not tolerated.