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Freecycle is the world’s largest network of recyclers who, instead of throwing away, selling or otherwise disposing of their unwanted goods, give it away instead. It’s both an environmentally and pocket-friendly way of picking up things you want and getting rid of things you don’t, and it’s completely free to join and exchange goods.
In addition being a great way to find bargains, it’s also a great way to rid your house of clutter that you no longer need. As opposed to putting an advert on Craigslist or Gumtree where it might sit for weeks before being buried beneath everyone elses, Freecycled goods generally don’t hang around long.
Here are my top reasons you should already be using this fantastic use of modern technology.
Eco-Friendly, Free & Easy
Free doesn’t always mean good but in this case the clue’s in the name, and Freecycle is a completely free service. There are a few basic rules to Freecycle about what you can and cannot sell (any non-living, legally saleable item that is suitable for all age groups is acceptable) and all parties must agree that all listed items are exchanged for free. That also goes for the adverts posted, meaning there are no costs whatsoever.
The service can be seen as a middleman, connecting those with things they no longer need with others who are sniffing out a bargain. There’s no need to disclose what you want to use the item for, either. To quote the basic FAQ laid down by the Freecycle network:
- No pornography
- No alcohol
- No tobacco
- No drugs (of any kind, including all medicines, vitamins, creams, etc.)
- No firearms or other weapons
These are blanket policies, network-wide and should be adhered to. It’s no more restrictive than what eBay subject you to – in fact there are generally a lot more things eBay won’t let you sell. Be aware of your local network’s rules too, some are fine with responsible rehoming of pets and others aren’t.
Find Things You Want
In addition to being able to shift your old stuff, you can also find things you want to pick up using a variety of methods. Because Freecycle uses Yahoo! Groups, it’s easy to search the database of messages. Conversely, if you’re receiving Freecycle alerts in your inbox you could also set up a filter to alert you of potentially interesting goods which would be pushed to your inbox or using IFTTT, pushed to a device or other service.
Freecycle is as much about finding things as it is giving them away, and so the service allows users to post wanted ads in addition to offers of goods. Commonly requested items (at least in my locale) consist of things like boxes for moving house, old sofas and building materials but if you want an old SNES or Game Boy then it won’t cost you to see if anyone can help you out.
Get Rid Of Stuff
If you’ve got a house, garden and shed full of things that you’ve been meaning to get rid of for a while, and aren’t too bothered about selling it on then Freecycle is where it’s at. Why pay dumping fees for rubble when someone’s building a house and looking for it? Is that pile of broken computers in the attic really worthless, or is your junk potentially useful to someone else?
More and more silicon ends up in the ground every year, and while responsible recycling needs to be more readily enforced, it’s not necessarily always about taking products and items out of circulation. One man’s junk is another’s pot of gold, so it might be time to re-evaluate some of the things you consider to be junk. Best of all, it won’t cost you $20 like an advert in the local paper will to find out – and it’s it’s PC-related, you can bet someone will want it.
In my experience, everything on Freecycle falls under a policy whereby the receiver picks up the cost of the transport. So in addition to not having to pay dumping fees for your old things, you won’t have to move it either.
Signing Up & Final Tips
Join your local Freecycle group by searching for nearby networks in your area on the official global website. On joining, you’ll have to register for a Yahoo! account due to the network’s reliance on Yahoo! Groups. As opposed to signing up for yet another (Yahoo!) account, you can also link your Google or Facebook account for a simple sign-in.
If you’re not fond of receiving a lot of email then make sure you choose to receive only “Special Notices” when signing up. If you’d like to read Freecycle in your inbox, filters are an absolute must as in some areas you can get upwards of a thousand messages every single day. Last of all, heed the groups policies – make sure your application states exactly what your group requests. Don’t try and join groups that aren’t local to you, and if there are any specific rules follow them. The networks operate on a two strikes and you’re out policy, and if you appreciate access to this incredible network then you’ll do well not to get a rap sheet.
Don’t forget if you’re after more recycling or charitable organisations that will take your hazardous old computers and parts then we’ve got a nice list here.
Do you use Freecycle? Have you got any favourite items you’ve claimed over the years? Any similar services we should all know about?
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