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Insights from Old Boy who is Chairman of Freegle

Monday, 16 October 2017

  • OB Chair of Freegle (1)
  • OB Chair of Freegle
  • OB Chair of Freegle (2)

Edward Hibbert, an Old Boy who attended Beech House Infant School the Junior Boys’ School at Park Road, returned to Bolton School to talk to Sixth Form students about “How not to get rich”! Edward is now the chairman of the board of Freegle and his talk focused on how the idea of this website came about, his reasons for getting involved, and the importance of reusing items and working for the wider community.

Edward briefly recapped his life since leaving Bolton School. He studied Maths at Cambridge University and went on to a career in software development. He discussed how this gave him the financial security to then take stock and do something different for less or no pay later in life.

His journey towards Freegle began in Edinburgh when he decided to get rid of some old carpet. He discovered a reuse group in the city which allowed him to find someone who wanted the carpet and would take it away for free. He really liked the idea of reusing items rather than recycling or throwing away, and so got more involved with the group until he was helping to run it. However, although he found it was a worthwhile thing to do, it was tedious on a practical level. This inspired him to use technology to improve the system and make it easier for people to use, which eventually led to the reuse website Freegle as it exists now.

He talked also about making the leap from working in software development to working on Freegle. He wanted to make sure that encouraging people to reuse items was what he really wanted to do, so he left his job and walked from Land’s End to John O’Groats and also worked for a homeless charity for a year. He enjoyed this, but decided that it wasn’t really for him: the work he had been doing with Freegle, using technology to make the world a little bit better, was more interesting and fulfilling for him. He therefore decided to pursue that full time.

Edward was keen to impress that Freegle is a reuse website, not a recycling website, as it encourages people to extend the lifespan of an item before recycling and therefore reduce waste and landfill. He talked about how the UK is very good at recycling, but not good at reusing items or extending their lifespan, and this is what Freegle is all about.

The Sixth Form students were interested to learn that Freegle has a very small annual budget and is not monetised. Rather, it is based on volunteers. Edward talked about the fact that he enjoys watching the ‘matches’ between people who are looking for items and people getting rid of them on Freegle, each doing a little bit of good for one another. He was also able to share some of the success stories about how Freegle has been used.

Edward’s presentation gave a great insight into the importance of reusing items where possible. It was also an inspiring talk from an Old Boy who has gone on to create something to benefit the wider community following his successful career.

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