I love free stuff. It doesn’t matter if it’s new, used, re-gifted or re-purposed. I also have a passion for being green: recycling, reusing, repurposing, and conserving whenever possible. When I found Freecycle I hit the jackpot on both counts!
What is Freecycle? The Freecycle Network™ is made up of 4,873 groups with 6,885,000 members across the globe. It’s a grassroots and entirely nonprofit movement of people who are giving (& getting) stuff for free in their own towns. It’s all about reuse and keeping good stuff out of landfills. It’s simple to join:
- Go to www.freecycle.org and search for the nearest “region” near you.
- You will be prompted to sign up for your local freecycle email list via Yahoo’s Discussion Group. This is how all Freecycle offers are posted and will land in your specified email inbox. If you don’t already have a Yahoo ID you will be prompted to create one. But don’t worry, you need never check it because you can specify the email address of your choice in which to receive your Freecycle messages.
After that, just start perusing the Freecycle postings in your email’s inbox every day and if something shows up that you are interested in, respond to the poster by email and if they pick you, designate a day/time to pick up that item from them. It’s that easy.
Freecycle isn’t really junk. Some people refer to it as junk but you know the saying: “One man’s junk is another man’s treasure”. Just in the past 6 months, our family has been blessed with the following “treasures” from Freecycle:
- Clothes for my kids (I haven’t had to buy any clothes for my oldest this way)
- Linksys Wireless-G Router
- A live dove with a cage
- Brand new queen size mattress
- New Iced Tea Maker
- Pottery Barn Toddler Bed
- 6′ long computer table (that I use as a utility table in my laundry room)
- Nerf guns
- Tiki torches
- Wood & Wrought Iron Garden bench
- Water cooler (heats & cools water)
- 11 boxes of mason jars
- Boxes and boxes of books & curriculum
- National Geographic magazines
- Boxes of pinecones
- Cross-stitch supplies
- Knitting supplies
- Sewing supplies
- 60 wooden hangers; hundreds of plastic hangers
- Azalea bushes
- Interlocking foam pieces for the cushioning the floor
- Soccer cleats
- Beach chairs
- Various coupons
- Cork boards
- White boards
- Photo albums
- Metal lockers
- Free-standing wooden bench swing
It’s been amazing. These treasures, some new and some used, would otherwise just be left at the curb to take space in our landfills. And my list doesn’t even cover 90% of what’s offered on Freecycle: computers, perfumes, jewelry, furniture, household items (dishes, sheets, fixtures, etc.), trampolines, baby items, TVs, stereos, tires, appliances to name a few. Even “junk” junk, like chicken wire, scrap metal, piles of wood decking, and old lumber! And weird stuff like live beehives and a ton of coal! And it ALL goes to SOMEONE because there’s always SOMEONE that is looking for that precise item!
Freecycle allows you to find a specific item. The other nice feature of Freecycle is if you never come across that certain item you have been wanting and waiting for, you can post a “Wanted” listing for that item. I was looking for canning jars and within a few hours of posting my request I was offered 11 boxes of canning jars from 3 different freecyclers.
Freecycle is better than having a yard sale. Getting rid of stuff on Freecycle is better for our family than having a yard sale because we’re not particularly fond of accumulating junk all year long only to have to label, sort, organize, advertise & get up early to brave the heat for only a few bucks at the end of the day. With Freecycle, as you come across something that’s of no longer any use, you just post it, pick someone, and set it out for pickup.
Freecycle lets you unload stuff you have long forgotten about. Sometimes you don’t realize you have stuff to get rid of until someone makes a “Wanted” posting for it. Just the other day someone requested Wiggles DVDs & VHS tapes. I have dozens of Wiggles titles that I had forgotten all about because my kids have long outgrown them. So I passed on the blessing.
Best of all, Freecycle makes you feel good about keeping unnecessary items from ending up in our landfills. Not much more to be said about that.
Make the most of Freecycle. Many people join the Freecycle list then end up removing themselves from the list because the many emails in their email inbox makes it unmanageable for them. Here are some tips to help manage the deluge:
- Create an email just for using Freecycle’s email list (ex. MyFreecycleEmail@gmail.com) and check that email’s inbox frequently throughout the day. In this way, you keep your Freecycle emails separate from your regular emails. The downside to this option is that you have to check more than one email account throughout the day.
- Select Yahoo’s Daily Digest mode of email delivery versus the Individual Emails. This way, you will get one email a day with all the postings from that day. The downside to this is that because you won’t be getting the individual emails as soon as they are posted, you will likely miss out on the opportunity to get the treasure.
- Create an email rule. The best thing to do is if you use Outlook, or another feature-rich email client, add your separate Freecycle email account to your existing list of email accounts then create an “rule” specifying that any email incoming from your Freecycle email address gets automatically filed into a specified inbox folder (ex. I call my folder “Freecycle”). In this manner, I don’t have to bounce between different email accounts; they all come into my Outlook and I can see whenever a new message has arrived in my Freecycle folder and be able to respond to it quickly.
Now that you know the ins and outs of Freecycling, what are you waiting for? Go sign up! You’ll feel so good about getting free stuff that in no time at all you’ll be singing “I’m a Freecycler…I’m a Freecycler” (sung to the tune of “I’m a Girl Watcher”) on the way to the pick-ups!
Wishing you lots of Freecycle jackpots!