Freecycle-More Than Just a Place to Recycle

Founded on May 1, 1993 by Deron Beal Freecycle has grown from a single location in Tuscon, Arizona to an international organization having chapters in 85 countries.  Whether you’re in need of  something or having something you need to get rid of that’s just too good for the landfill, Freecycle has a few guidelines in place to help you along your way including getting started if you’re new to Freecycle.

Besides being a great way to give and receive, Freecycle is a great way to keep thousands of tons material out of our landfills. Freecyclers appreciate the fact that by reusing and gifting we’re keeping the world a little bit less full of garbage. We’re getting/giving something that already exists so we’re not using energy, resources and chemicals, etc. inherent in making brand new goods!

Some of our members are already familiar with Freecycle. I joined and have  used it myself many times to gift items that we no longer wanted. (I was compelled to make a change from one group to another local group after finding out that the moderators of the first group were abusing their positions by taking the “good stuff” and selling items they’d taken.) Thankfully, they are an anomaly for Freecycle and the second chapter I joined is very fair.

Many of our members have met new friends and have gotten and gifted items that were no longer useful to the owner but are now loved by those who claimed the items. Tanja and her family received clothing for their boys, Tamdoll was able to get and pass along to a friend some fantastic fabric, Lori received a much needed futon, gave away bunk beds to a mother of 4 and Bren got a reel lawnmower!

There are times when, like any transaction, a Freecycle experience can be very satisfying and times when exchanges can be quite frustrating like when people to whom you’ve promised your belongings don’t show up to receive them or by those who behave rudely when they take your offerings. More often than not you will find people to be kind and appreciative and respectful of your gift.

Keep in mind that you don’t have to offer your items to the first person responding to your offer. YOU get to decide who will be the recipient so you can look for polite responses and stories that seem compelling to you before your item is given away.

Erin, of shared this touching story:

“I, just last week, gave away a diamond ring.   It was given to me as a ‘promise ring’ from a very special man.  We were together for about 5 years, and were each other’s best friend.  We were like peanut butter and jelly … totally inseparable, and got along so well.  We went our separate ways after I graduated college, though, still visited each other a lot, and spent a lot of time together.  Without divulging ‘too’ many gory details, I was unable to get back together with him and we just had to go our separate ways again, though not b/c either of us really WANTED to … so, the ring meant so, so, so much to me … but, it’s been about 7 years and I just had to let it go.  I felt awful selling something that meant so much to me.  I wanted it to go to someone whom definitely would not sell it … and would carry on it’s significance in their own way.  After a good 100+ emails requesting the item, I selected a soldier who quickly married, due to his upcoming deployment to Iraq.  He gave it to his new wife as their wedding ring, since he couldn’t afford one.  I’m so, so honored that it went to a family who’s sacrificing so much for all Americans.  It makes me feel so happy that the significance of the ring is living on ! ”

Some DO’s and Don’t s of Freecycle:

1. DO exercise caution when listing or picking up items.  NEVER go alone to get an item! If at all possible, DO put your items outside to be picked up and DON’T invite people into your home.

2. DO be sincere about the need for the items you collect. Be sure that what you take is what you need. Sometimes it’s very tempting to want everything you see but a little consideration goes a long way and leaving what you don’t need for other people who do need it is in keeping with the spirit of Freecycle.

2. DO express gratitude to the person from whom you are receiving goods. Remember, the item you get is a gift from someone’s home and should be respected as such.

3. If you promise to pick up something DO pick it up! DON’T be a “no show”. If you change your mind, DO let the giver know to pass the item on to the next person requesting it.

4. DON’T believe it is your responsibility to deliver what you are giving away.  If you do decide to deliver DON’T go alone.

5. DO answer requests in a timely manner. Respond to each request and take your posting off site after your gift has been given.

6. DO put a time limit on your offerings. (Must be picked up in “x” days.”) DON’T be shy about sticking with your guidelines and moving on the next request if the first doesn’t work out.

7. DON’T give away something that should be put in the trash. People are getting your offerings for free but they don’t want your garbage. Be honest about disclosing the condition of what you’re offering.

8.  DO abide by the guidelines of your organization.

As with any activity there can be some rewarding and some frustrating experiences.  If we become too easily discouraged by a few frustrations  with Freecycle we can miss great opportunities for making friends, keeping great ‘stuff’ out of landfills.  LindaEve has “Freecycled” for a while now and has had many good and some frustrating transactions; “… I pressed on with Freecycle and most of my experiences have been really positive.”

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  1. Great article. I’ve used Freecycle many, many times. Mostly to give things away and have them ‘cycle’ through another home. Each time I’ve been very comfortable with the people who have ‘taken’ my items.

    Freecycle ROCKS!

  2. Great article! Thanks for passing this info on to everyone. FreeCycle rocks!