Someone asked me quite a while ago if I’d explain a little more about Freecycle, but I forgot until just now. Ahem. I’m sure many of you are already diehard Freecyclers, but for those of who aren’t, here’s a brief overview.
Freecycle is an organization made up of many small(ish) groups all over the globe. It started with the idea of keeping as much useable stuff as possible out of the landfill, and it’s been a very successful idea! There are over 6 million members of Freecycle now, and there are 4662 groups.
To get started with Freecycle, go to www.freecycle.org. There you can browse groups to find one near you(if you’re outside of the US, click on other countries. Once you find the closest Freecycle group, click on it, and you’ll be taken to a page that will tell you how to sign up.
Freecycle operates off of Yahoo Groups email lists. Once you sign up, you’ll be able to send emails to the group(to offer items) and you’ll receive emails(in which other people offer items) from other people.
To offer items(a wonderful way to declutter without creating garbage!), you just send an email to the group stating the item you have to offer and your general location. People who are interested will then email you, and you can choose a recipient, who will then come and pick up the item. I have gotten rid of SO much stuff this way, and much of it was stuff that would have gone to the landfill otherwise. If you didn’t buy into the whole, “One man’s junk is another man’s treasure” idea before, you will after you join Freecycle!
To receive items, all you have to do is respond to any offer email that interests you. There’s no guarantee that the person offering the item will pick you, but you can increase the odds of being chosen by being polite and by stating why you want the item. For instance, when I see someone offering a piece of furniture that I want, I email them and explain that I like to repaint old furniture and that I see great potential for that particular piece. I also sometimes include a picture of a piece of furniture that I’ve painted before.
Of course, it takes patience and an open mind to get good stuff from Freecycle. Sometimes months go by where I’ll see nothing that interests me. But, I’ve gotten such great stuff over the years, it’s totally worth it to me to sift through the emails. Once I got six huge trash bags full of clothes, many new with tags. I’ve also gotten four solid wood dressers, a wooden desk, a wooden file cabinet, three wooden nightstands, a wooden chair, and a glass and metal desk(for my husband, who had been eyeing one just like it in the stores for a long while). I’ve gotten many other wonderful things too, all for the price of a bit of gas.
Freecycle is an especially wonderful resource if you’re the sort of person who doesn’t mind putting in a bit of elbow grease. I painted all the wood furniture I mentioned above, I’ve painted picture frames, I’ve painted baskets, and I’ve mended kids’ clothes, among other things. Since a lot of people don’t want to put in the time and effort required to do that sort of thing, there’s less competition for the items that require TLC, and so you’re more likely to be the chosen recipient.
At any rate, that’s a very brief overview. There’s more information on Freecycle’s website, and you will have access to a lot more information(rules, codes of conduct, etc) once you are signed up with a local group. If you aren’t already freecycling, I’d highly recommend signing up. We’ve been so blessed by being on both the giving and receiving end of Freecycle.