Freecycle is a grassroots project where people are giving (and receiving) stuff for FREE in their own towns.
It’s like a mini-eBay, only it’s categorized by regions, so you join the group that’s in the same city or county as you. (That way, it’s easy to GIVE or GET items to others who live near you.)
After hearing about Freecycle on the news soon after it began in 2003, I signed up. UPDATE: I’ve now been a member for 8 years!
It’s hard to believe that there are over 1,200 Freecycle members in my tiny little town alone.
It’s a ton of fun giving others items they want/need for FREE. And it’s super exciting when you find that needle in the haystack and see something you really want on Freecycle for yourself.
Basically, joining means that you are given access to the website which lists items that are either Wanted (being sought by others) or Offered (being given away by others).
You can post your “wanted items” or your “offered items” for FREE at any time.
Remember, it’s all about the FREE… not a penny can be charged or earned.
Check out some of the things Freecyclers have given and received!
Finding The Best Items
Instead of keeping your eyes glued to the Freecycle website, you can also choose to receive individual e-mails (as items are posted) or daily e-mails (summarizing all of the new postings for that day).
That way, you remain on top of what’s available at all times — because really good free stuff often goes very quickly!
Freecycle Giving & Receiving Tips
Through the years, I have given a lot (weight set, rocking chairs, planters, chairs, desks, etc.) and gotten a lot (dinnerware, drinking glasses, cookware, Peterborough baskets, etc.) — all thanks to Freecycle.
Here are my best Freecycle tips…
When people are giving things away for FREE, they (self included) typically don’t want to be inconvenienced in any way. (I mean, after all, you are getting something for nothing — so it’s not worth it for the donor to go to great lengths to make this happen.) For that reason, most Freecyclers want you to pick up the item from their front porch within a time range that you specify. If the item is not picked up, then it typically goes to the next person on the list (assuming that a number of people have voiced an interest in the item).
Generally speaking, I’m okay with this. I’ve done it this way many many times. However, it may be in your best interest to do the transaction in a public place, rather than mentioning a home address to a stranger who happens to live in your town. While having no interaction with the Freecycler — by leaving items on the porch — is easier than driving somewhere to meet someone, it would be much safer to meet in a public location during daylight hours. I’ve done this before at places like a McDonald’s parking lot, a grocery store parking lot, etc.
When You Give:
To avoid the frustration when someone doesn’t show up to pick up an item as promised, I usually send the same reply to all who voice an interest in my item: “The item is on my front porch. Here’s the address. The first one to arrive gets it.” Yes, sometimes, I’ve had more than one person come by to get the same item — but they knew ahead of time and they were will to take the chance. Doing it this way helps to ensure that you’ll get the item out of your home in the quickest manner possible. It also ensures that only someone who really wants it will receive it. Finally, it guarantees that you won’t have no-shows. Just be sure to post an update right away on Freecycle stating that the item has been picked up!
Don’t overlook the fact that some of the things you might want to give to Freecycle (or to other donation organizations like Goodwill or Salvation Army) might not be in the best condition. If that’s the case, some of those items might be put to good use at your local animal shelter instead. Please check out this Animal Shelter Wish List before you give things away.
When You Receive:
To increase your odds of being selected as the recipient of an item, you need to have a sparkling clean reputation on Freecycle. Without a doubt, people start to recognize some of the names of those who tend to give and receive items on Freecycle a lot. You can sort of get a sense of who the complainers are, who receives more than they give, and maybe even who has been a no show in the past. (Some Freecyclers tend to name-drop if they’ve had particularly bad experience with one person.)
For what it’s worth, when I’m voicing my interest in receiving an item, I always end with: “By the way, I have NEVER been a no show. So if you pick me, you can rest assured that I will pick up the item right away. Thanks for your consideration.”
More About Freecycle
- It’s Like A Random Act Of Kindness…
- Freecycle: How It Works
- A Fun Way To Pass On Your Old Books
- Kids’ Toys Kicked To The Curb
- Tag, You’re It… Passalong Some Fun Stuff
- 8 Etiquette Tips For Curbside Freecycling
If you’re interested in the Craigslist site that Phil mentioned in the Comments below, it’s here. There is some good FREE stuff there as well. And I’ve found Craigslist to be a great way to find things (like house cleaners) in the local area as well.
Here are 10 alternatives to Freecycle.
I found something in Oprah Magazine (“Take It, It’s Free”) about how Deron Beal started Freecycle in July 2003:
As an employer of a non-profit recycling center in Tucson, Beal would cart bulky stuff that businesses no longer wanted — disks, fax machines — from charity to charity until he found a taker. He realized this was not the most efficient system, so in July 2003, he started Freecycle.org, a grassroots website open to individuals, charities, and companies in his hometown. The concept was simple: You list your dumpster-destined toaster, and a toaster-needy neighbor arranges to pick it up. In less than 2 years, Freecycle.org has spread through 1,800 cities and more than 40 countries. Now, every day, more than half a million Freecyclers keep 33 tons of good stuff out of landfills.
Freecycle has been in the news a number of times through the years. Here are some of my favorite updates about Freecycle as it exists today:
- A Decade Of Sharing: The Freecycle Network Turns 10
- Freecycle Network Facebook Page
- Freecycle Twitter Page
I like to help people find unique ways to do things in order to save time & money — so I write about “outside the box” ideas that most wouldn’t think of. As a lifelong dog owner, I often share my best tips for living with and training dogs. I worked in Higher Ed over 10 years before switching gears to pursue activities that I’m truly passionate about. I’ve worked at a vet, in a photo lab, and at a zoo — to name a few. I enjoy the outdoors via bicycle, motorcycle, Jeep, or RV. You can always find me at the corner of Good News & Fun Times as publisher of The Fun Times Guide (32 fun & helpful websites).