What is Freecycle and How to Make The Best of It

I received an email from a reader wondering what she needs to do to start getting free stuff via Freecycle. The Freecycle Network was created by a non-profit group in an effort to reduce waste, ease landfill burden and promote a spirit of community through gifting. You can find the Freecycle group nearest you on this page in their website. Once you have found and joined the group nearest you make sure you read the groups rules and follow their posting guidelines. Most groups request that you start posting by offering an item before you request a wanted item. Here are some other things to keep in mind when using Freecycle:

  • It is easier to give something away than to find something wanted. For this reason, some groups have limited the posting for “Wanted” items to once a week to keep an uncluttered board. However, don’t give up and keep trying. Patience is a virtue when you are member of groups like this.
  • If you see something you want, act quickly. Chances are that the person offering the item will get more than one email from an interested party. With that in mind, make your offer to pick up the item hard to turn down. Offer to pick up preferably the same day at their convenience.
  • Don’t forget to pick up the item. “No shows” only slow down the give away pace of the group. So, don’t offer to take something if you truly are not interested in the item.
  • Be mindful of other members. It is almost impossible to keep track of who picked up what. But I think it is very easy for people to star hoarding things they find on Freecycle “just because it is free.” This spirit defeats the purpose of the group, offer to pick up something you will actually use, not something you think you may use eventually.
  • If you are a member of a very active group, you may want to consider selecting the option to read the groups messages on the groups web page. Otherwise you may experience an overflowed email inbox if you select to have the messages delivered to it.
  • Keep safety in mind: don’t share your address or phone number on a post but only with the person that will pick up your item. If you’d rather not share your address at all consider a public drop off such as a gas station or store parking lot. Never pick up an item alone, or let someone know where you are going and carry a cell phone with you. Likewise, don’t have someone come pick up an item when you are home alone. I usually leave items for pick up out on my front porch and I have never even met one person I have given something to.

Freecycle is great way to find items we need for free and to bless others with things we don’t have use for anymore. Since I started using Freecycle I have picked up free canning jars, an ice cream maker and fabric among other things. The coolest thing we have given away was our old water heater, the person who picked it up explained that they were going to use it to make their own biofuel. This was THREE years ago, if that guy made his idea worked I bet he has saved a bundle over these past few years. See? someones trash really is somebody else’s treasure.