Money Management

What Is the Freecycle Network – Give & Get Free Stuff

When you’re struggling to get by on a tight funds, one technique to stretch your procuring {dollars} is to purchase secondhand.

ou can discover some unbelievable bargains at thrift outlets and flea markets, however the greatest cut price of all is to get the stuff you want utterly free. And one in every of the best methods to do that is to “shop” on the Freecycle Network.

Freecycle helps individuals give away issues they now not must others who can use them. The first Freecycle group shaped in Tucson, Arizona, in 2003 as a technique to promote reuse. Since then, the idea has unfold throughout the nation and round the world. Today, Freecycle has practically 9 million members organized into greater than 5,000 native teams in over 110 nations.

Using Freecycle to reuse objects is nice for the setting and your pockets. Instead of sending completely helpful belongings to the landfill, you may go them on to different individuals who want them.

At the similar time, you will get stuff you want out of your neighbors as an alternative of going to the retailer and shopping for new ones. It’s a simple technique to save money whereas residing inexperienced.

How Freecycle Works

There’s no charge to affix Freecycle. It operates as a nonprofit group, supported by a mix of grants, particular person donations, company sponsorships, and adverts on its web sites. You can search Freecycle.org to search out the native group that’s closest to you and join as a member.

Each Freecycle group covers a particular geographical space. These vary in dimension from a complete county to a selected a part of a metropolis, reminiscent of Brooklyn in New York City. If you occur to reside in an space that’s coated by a couple of group, you’re allowed to affix each of them.

Once you be a part of, you acquire entry to your native group’s e mail record. All members could make posts on this record to both give away one thing particular or request one thing they’re searching for. It’s lots like Craigslist, besides that no money ever adjustments arms.

Pro tip: Do you will have an previous smartphone laying round your property? SellCell will provide help to commerce it in for money. They examine costs from greater than 35 buyback firms so that you’re receiving the most money.

Offering Items on Freecycle

Let’s say you will have one thing you need to do away with, reminiscent of a set of left-handed golf golf equipment. You could make a proposal publish to your native Freecycle group.

The topic line lists the identify of the merchandise, your username, and your normal location (not your precise handle). The physique of the message gives a extra detailed description and, in order for you, a photograph.

You also can use the message to make particular requests about the way you’d wish to eliminate your property. For occasion, if you wish to do away with all the golf equipment without delay, you may say one thing like, “Please take all and pass on what you can’t use.” If you favor a particular time, date, or location for pickup, you may embody that data too.

Your publish may seem like this:

  • Title: OFFER — Left-Handed Golf Clubs
  • From: Bilbo
  • Date: 9:30, 30 May 2021
  • Location: Hobbiton
  • Description: Set of left-handed golf golf equipment. I don’t play golf, and I’m not left-handed. Don’t ask me how I ended up with them. Please suggest a pickup time in your first message.

If somebody in your native group needs the golf equipment, they will ship you a message to request them. Messages can go through e mail or by means of the Freecycle web site.

Email is a bit faster and extra dependable, however sending messages by means of the website permits you to preserve your personal e mail addresses personal. That reduces your danger of ending up on a spam mailing record.

After somebody expresses an curiosity in your golf golf equipment, you may arrange a date and time to switch them.

Occasionally, individuals supply to ship one thing on to the recipient’s home — for example, if it’s cumbersome they usually don’t have a automotive. Typically, although, the one who made the request is answerable for choosing it up, both at your property or in a public place.

For smaller items, Freecyclers typically use “porch pickup.” They prepare to depart the merchandise in some spot on the property however exterior the house, reminiscent of the entrance stoop. The individual receiving it could actually cease by at their comfort to select it up.

Once your golf golf equipment are picked up, you may make a “taken” publish on the Freecycle group to let others know they’re now not obtainable. That method, they gained’t waste your time and their very own sending messages to ask you for one thing you now not have.

And since Freecycle is a nonprofit, you may take a charitable tax deduction for the market worth of the golf equipment.

Receiving Items on Freecycle

If there’s one thing particular you want, reminiscent of a blender, there are two methods to search out it on Freecycle.

First, you may seek for one in the posts in your native group. If you discover one, you may ship a response to request it, both by means of e mail or by means of the web site. Then if it’s nonetheless obtainable, the one who supplied it will get again to you to rearrange a date and time for pickup.

If nobody in your native group has a blender on supply, you may make a “wanted” publish to request one.

Just like a proposal publish, a wished publish contains your username and site and an outline of the product you’re searching for. If you’re searching for a particular kind or mannequin, you may embody that data in the description. For instance:

  • Title: WANTED — Stick Blender
  • From: Bilbo
  • Date: 9:30, 22 April 2020
  • Location: Hobbiton
  • Description: I’m searching for a stick blender — the type you may insert right into a pot of soup to mix it as an alternative of pouring the complete pot out into your large blender. I’ve a versatile schedule and may decide it up rapidly from your property or porch.

If one other Freecycler has a spare blender to provide away, they will reply to your publish by means of the Web or e mail. Then you may prepare the particulars of a pickup simply as should you’d responded to a proposal publish.

Once you’ve acquired it, you may publish a “received” publish to let individuals know you now not want it so that you gained’t get any further affords.

What You Can Exchange on Freecycle

Freecycle customers give each other practically something you may think about. Just in the previous few days, I’ve seen affords for furnishings, housewares, packing supplies, youngsters’ clothes and toys, two massive canine crates, a number of tomato crops, a Wii recreation system, and three 12-inch packs of hay.

Over the years, I’ve saved an inventory of the whole lot I’ve disposed of by means of Freecycle. Nearly each product I’ve listed has finally discovered a taker — even these I brazenly disclosed had been very previous, broken, or damaged.

Some notable examples had been:

  • An eight-year-old Macintosh computer
  • Several previous textbooks
  • A reel-type garden mower with a wheel that didn’t keep on very properly
  • A string trimmer with a motor that was on the verge of burning itself out
  • Old incandescent gentle bulbs we’d changed with energy-efficient bulbs
  • Surplus crops from my house vegetable backyard
  • A half-full bag of dry cat meals

My husband and I’ve additionally acquired a number of free objects by means of Freecycle. Some of our greatest finds had been:

  • Three practically full containers of almond flour, coconut flour, and virgin coconut oil (approximate retail worth: $16).
  • Magic Bullet blender we use practically each day (approximate retail worth: $25).
  • A set of wooden window shades (approximate retail worth: $40).
  • modular play tent with a jungle sample, which our nieces and nephews cherished taking part in with (approximate retail worth: $55).
  • A stainless-steel kitchen sink full with a single-handle faucet (approximate retail worth: $110).
  • Our greatest coup ever: practically 1,000 concrete pavers, sufficient to assemble a 10-by-20-foot patio in our yard. The former proprietor even helped us transport them to our home in his pickup truck (approximate retail worth: $580).

Although I seldom use Freecycle to request a particular merchandise, I’ve seen members of my native group ask for and get every kind of issues, from computer systems to out-of-print books. I as soon as even noticed somebody request and obtain worms for a vermicomposting bin.

Advantages

There are a number of causes Freecycle is extremely helpful, each to those that have undesirable stuff and people in want.

1. Clearing Clutter

I’ve all the time discovered Freecycle the most dependable technique to discover a new house for issues I don’t want. I believe it’s as a result of, not like promoting objects at a yard sale or posting them on Craigslist, there’s no money concerned

Since the whole lot is free, persons are extra keen to take a danger on one thing they aren’t certain about. It prices them nothing to strive it, and in the event that they don’t prefer it, they will all the time go it on to another person. That makes it a superb instrument for decluttering your property.

2. Getting Free Stuff

Nearly everybody loves getting stuff without spending a dime, and Freecycle may also help you just do that. The solely price is the gasoline or transportation required to get to the pickup website and haul your discover house.

3. Helping the Environment

In its mission statement, Freecycle describes itself as a company that “reduces waste [and] saves precious resources.”

Every time you give one thing away on Freecycle, you’re protecting waste out of landfills. And each time you purchase one thing by Freecycling as an alternative of shopping for it, you’re saving all the resources and power that will have gone into making a brand new product.

4. Meeting Your Neighbors

Today, most Americans don’t work together with their neighbors frequently. A 2015 City Observatory report discovered that solely 20% of Americans typically spend time with their neighbors, and about 30% by no means discuss to them in any respect. Forty years in the past, these numbers had been precisely the different method round.

Joining your native Freecycle group affords a technique to meet individuals in your space and work together with them frequently. In this manner, the group helps forge stronger ties inside a group.

Disadvantages

Freecycle additionally has its downsides. Before signing up in your native group, concentrate on these negatives.

1. Too Much Email

If you need to ensure you see what reveals up in your native Freecycle group instantly, you may ask Freecycle to inform you by e mail every time a brand new publish seems. I selected this feature once I first joined my native group.

However, I rapidly discovered that Freecycle posts had been flooding my e mail inbox, drowning out essential messages from pals and colleagues.

To get round this downside, I switched to receiving the Freecycle day by day digest as an alternative. Now, Freecycle sends me a message solely when 25 new posts have appeared or at the finish of every day, whichever comes sooner.

However, this implies I typically don’t see the posts for fascinating objects earlier than they’re taken.

2. Too Much Driving

Freecycle teams range extensively in the quantity of space they cover. If your group is one in every of the bigger ones, issues that present up may simply be 20 miles or extra from your property.

Picking them up can imply driving greater than an hour round-trip. For smaller freebies, the price of gasoline and the time required to select them up can cancel out all your financial savings.

3. No Previews

With Freecycle posts, you don’t get an opportunity to examine one thing earlier than requesting it the method you may in a retailer. Even the descriptions and photographs on the website aren’t as detailed as the ones you’d get procuring on-line. Until you go to select the items up, you may’t ensure in the event that they’re actually one thing you should utilize.

In many circumstances, you may be fairly certain a few of what you’re getting isn’t helpful in any respect. When individuals have a number of issues to provide away, reminiscent of a bag full of garments, they typically record the complete assortment as one merchandise with the route, “Must take all.”

If you solely need one factor on the record — say, a purple sweater — it’s important to take the complete bag to get that one garment. Of course, you may all the time flip round and relist the stuff you don’t need, however there’s no assure anybody needs them.

4. Wasted Time

One of the greatest annoyances about Freecycle is the downside of no-shows. These are individuals who request one thing you’ve listed, prepare a pickup time, after which by no means present up. Often, they don’t even hassle to name or e mail and let you know they will’t make it.

I as soon as spent over three hours on a Sunday afternoon ready round for a Freecycler who had promised to select up my previous blender. When I lastly bought in contact together with her, she mentioned she’d had automotive bother and requested to reschedule the pickup for Monday night. I agreed, however she by no means confirmed up then both, and he or she by no means contacted me to elucidate why.

5. Safety Concerns

To trade objects on Freecycle, it’s important to be keen to share at the very least a few of your personal data with strangers.

Although you may ship messages by means of the web site fairly than utilizing e mail, it’s important to give individuals your handle for pickup. And normally, it’s important to present them together with your e mail or telephone quantity to allow them to attain you in the event that they’re unable to make it.

I’ve by no means felt in any respect unsafe when utilizing Freecycle, whether or not I used to be having a stranger come to my door or going to another person’s house to make a pickup. However, if this kind of factor makes you nervous, there are methods round it.

You can prepare a porch pickup so different Freecyclers don’t need to enter your property and even knock in your door. And should you don’t need individuals to know your handle, you may prepare to make the switch in a public place, reminiscent of the car parking zone of a busy grocery retailer.

6. Lost Income Opportunities

Every time you give one thing away on Freecycle, you’re lacking out on a possible alternative to flip your muddle into money. Everything you record on Freecycle is one thing you may’t promote on Craigslist or a website like eBay or Amazon.

That mentioned, for many people, the comparatively small quantity of money we may get promoting our stuff secondhand is price lower than the time we’d spend itemizing and delivery it.

Finding a taker on Freecycle may be a lot faster because it’s typically simpler to search out somebody to take one thing without spending a dime than to search out somebody keen to pay for it.

Tips for Using Freecycle

At this level, you could be pondering that it appears like the downsides of utilizing Freecycle outweigh the upsides. However, it doesn’t need to be that method.

You could make the Freecycle expertise a lot better for your self and all different members of your native group by sticking to a fundamental code of Freecycle etiquette. Most of this code may be summarized in two phrases: communication and consideration.

Rule 1: Read the Guidelines

The Freecycle Network as a complete has a set of guidelines about how customers on native teams ought to work together with one another. These guidelines apply to all teams inside the community. They cover such subjects as:

  • What You Can Exchange. Anything you record on Freecycle have to be authorized and “appropriate for all ages.” That means no alcohol, tobacco, firearms, drugs of any type, or materials with sexual content material. You can not supply reside animals both for meals or for breeding, although some teams mean you can supply animals as pets. Finally, you can not supply your self or some other human as a relationship companion.
  • Content of Postings. Everything on Freecycle have to be utterly free. You can not request or supply both money or different items in trade for any merchandise. Advertising of any type can be off-limits. You can’t use the community to unfold the phrase about your babysitting companies or your upcoming storage sale.
  • Tone of Messages. All posts and different messages between Freecycle members ought to be well mannered. Profanity and personal assaults are forbidden. So are proselytizing and political content material, that are prone to result in battle.

Many native teams have further guidelines except for these fundamental pointers. For occasion, some teams disallow providing or requesting pets. Other teams set limits on the variety of “wanted” posts you’re allowed to make in a month. My native group has a rule that you just aren’t supposed to supply or request the similar merchandise greater than as soon as per thirty days.

Each group has moderators who’re in control of implementing its specific guidelines. Before you make your first publish on Freecycle, learn by means of all the guidelines for each Freecycle as a complete and your native group. Sticking to those guidelines helps all of your transactions go extra easily.

Rule 2: Don’t Be Greedy

The official Freecycle pointers don’t set any limits about what forms of issues you may request in a wished publish. All they ask is that you just use these posts “sparingly.” However, my native group instructs members to not ask for something “extravagant,” reminiscent of a diamond ring or a brand new automotive.

This is an efficient guideline to observe even when your group doesn’t particularly require it. The objective of Freecycle is to maintain undesirable objects out of the landfill, and it’s unlikely that anybody would see costly items like these as trash. Asking for them simply makes you look grasping and gained’t make you in style together with your fellow Freecyclers.

Another good rule of thumb is to not make your first publish on a brand new group a wished publish. By making at the very least one supply publish first, you present that you just’re fascinated about exchanging with the group, not simply grabbing no matter you will get.

Rule 3: Describe Items Clearly

In a correct Freecycle transaction, each the giver and receiver ought to be happy with the transaction.

You don’t need somebody to point out up at your home to select up a desk and be disenchanted as a result of it’s solely a dollhouse-size mannequin. That’s prone to make them upset with each you and Freecycle itself, presumably driving them away from the group.

To keep away from this downside, describe the whole lot you publish clearly. Start with a topic line that’s particular however not too lengthy, reminiscent of “Solid Wood Dresser.” You need an individual who’s simply skimming by means of the day by day digest to have the ability to spot what they’re searching for simply.

In the physique of your publish, present as a lot element as potential. For occasion, should you’re posting a dresser, record information like precise dimensions, the shade, and the variety of drawers. Include an image should you can.

If one thing’s incorrect with it, like a drawer that sticks, say so upfront. That method, you’ll solely get requests from individuals who don’t think about the downside a deal breaker.

By offering as a lot data as potential in your supply posts, you’ll waste much less time emailing backwards and forwards with individuals who resolve they don’t need your objects. You’ll additionally enhance the possibilities that the receiver will probably be pleased with the transaction and need to take care of you once more.

If you’re requesting one thing, be particular about your wants as properly. For occasion, should you’re searching for a DVD participant in working situation, ensure you say so in the publish. That method, you gained’t waste time with affords from individuals who have damaged DVD gamers to do away with.

Also, say how far you’re ready to journey to select up an merchandise. This saves you the bother of coping with messages from individuals who reside too distant.

Rule 4: Skip the Sob Stories

One factor you shouldn’t embody when requesting one thing on Freecycle is any rationalization of why you want it. Freecycle isn’t a charity, and begging isn’t acceptable or dignified. It also can result in ugly fights over who wants an merchandise extra. That makes the group a much less nice place for everybody.

When making a wished publish or responding to another person’s supply, follow the information about what you want and when you may decide it up. It’s OK to incorporate related particulars like, “Looking for a bike suitable for an 8-year-old girl,” however not “I have no car and my 8-year-old daughter desperately needs a bike to get back and forth to school.”

If one thing goes to assist a charity, it’s high-quality to say so.

For instance, you may write, “Looking for old towels to donate to the local animal shelter.” That’s helpful data because it tells individuals extra about what you want. However, going into element about the shelter and why it’s such a worthy trigger isn’t helpful — it’s simply laying a guilt journey in your fellow Freecyclers.

Rule 5: Respond to Messages Promptly

If somebody sends a response to your supply or wished publish, get again to them as rapidly as potential. It’s not well mannered to depart somebody questioning in the event that they’re going to get one thing (or do away with it) or not.

Sometimes, once you publish one thing a number of persons are fascinated about, you get a number of requests in a short while. You can solely give it to at least one individual, but it surely’s well mannered to let the others know that you just’ve already promised it so that they’re not left hanging. I generally inform the second individual in line that I’ll get again to them if the take care of the first individual falls by means of, which generally occurs.

When you will have a number of requests, it’s as much as you to resolve which individual will get what you posted. There’s no rule saying it’s important to give it to the first one who requests it. You can select to supply it to the one who can decide it up soonest, the one who lives closest to you, or to a Freecycler you’ve handled earlier than and know to be dependable.

The essential factor is to make the supply to just one individual at a time and let different individuals know what’s occurring. Whatever you do, don’t give out your handle or telephone quantity to a couple of Freecycler at a time. The final thing you need is to have a number of individuals displaying up in your doorstep, all clamoring for the similar factor.

Rule 6: Be Clear About Your Intentions

The key to a easy Freecycle transaction is evident communication. This applies to each making and responding to posts.

When you reply to a proposal publish, don’t simply say, “Hi, is the blender still available?” That forces the different individual to reply with, “Yes, do you want it?” as an alternative of getting right down to the business of arranging the pickup.

Ideally, your first message ought to state clearly, “I’m interested in the blender and can pick it up around 3pm this Saturday.”

Be as particular as potential about the time. If you’re choosing up a big merchandise, telling somebody you may acquire it “sometime this weekend” forces them to attend round the home all weekend so that you can present up.

Even should you’re doing a porch pickup and the precise time doesn’t matter, it’s useful for them to know when they need to count on the merchandise to be gone.

Likewise, should you’re providing one thing, be particular about when and the place you’d like the different individual to select it up. Provide clear and detailed instructions to your property or some other spot the place you’re planning a pickup.

Consider giving the different individual your telephone quantity to allow them to attain you rapidly if there’s an issue.

Rule 7: Keep Your Promises

Once you’ve made a promise to a different Freecycler, you’re obligated to honor that promise. If you’ve promised to depart one thing in your porch on Tuesday, it’s not OK to provide it to another person simply because they had been in a position to decide it up on Monday.

Of course, this rule can result in an ungainly scenario should you’ve promised an merchandise to somebody who can’t decide it up till subsequent week. You can end up turning down a number of affords from different individuals who may have taken it sooner.

To head off this downside, observe the three-day rule: Don’t ask for something until you may decide it up inside three days.

Keeping your guarantees means protecting appointments too. If you’ve promised to be at somebody’s home on Tuesday at 4pm, then they’re anticipating you at 4pm, not simply someday on Tuesday.

If you’re unavoidably delayed — say, by climate or site visitors — at the very least name or e mail to reschedule. That method, they aren’t caught at house ready so that you can present up.

Rule 8: Handle Porch Pickups Carefully

Porch pickups are handy since they don’t require each of you to be in the similar place at the similar time. However, for that very cause, it’s essential to speak as clearly as potential upfront to keep away from misunderstandings.

Some pointers for a profitable porch pickup embody:

  • Deal With Only One Person. Just like some other pickup, a porch pickup is a deal between two individuals. If you inform everybody, “It’s on the porch and whoever gets here first can have it,” a number of individuals could present up searching for an merchandise that’s already gone. Even worse, two individuals may present up without delay and get right into a struggle over who was there first.
  • Protect Items From the Elements. If you permit a guide in your entrance steps for porch pickup and it begins to rain, it may turn into a sodden, unreadable mess by the time the recipient reveals up. To keep away from this downside, place your giveaway objects in a protecting container, reminiscent of a field or a plastic bag — particularly if the climate forecast requires snow or rain.
  • Be Specific About the Location. When arranging a porch pickup, inform the different Freecycler precisely the place in your property to look. For occasion, I typically inform them it is going to be in a plastic bag tied to the railings of the facet stoop. If I’m any much less particular than that, I generally get messages like, “I checked the front porch and it wasn’t there.”
  • Label Items Clearly. If you’re leaving a single merchandise out for porch pickup, you may simply label it with the phrase “Freecycle.” However, should you’re leaving a number of objects out without delay for various individuals, label them with their names or Freecycle handles so that they don’t seize the incorrect factor by mistake. When you make a porch pickup, examine to verify it’s the merchandise you requested earlier than taking it.

Rule 9: Follow Up

Your obligations as a Freecycler don’t finish when somebody picks up your merchandise. If your preliminary supply or wished publish continues to be sitting there on the message board, different Freecyclers will proceed to waste their time — and yours — asking about it.

To keep away from this downside, ship a follow-up publish to the group — both “taken” or “received” — to allow them to know the transaction is full. You also can use this follow-up message as an opportunity to thank everybody who responded to your preliminary publish.

Final Word

Belonging to my native Freecycle group has modified my complete perspective towards procuring. Before, if one thing round my home broke or wore out, I used to mechanically run out to the retailer and purchase a brand new one.

Now, I all the time examine Freecycle first. The merchandise I want isn’t all the time there, however whether it is, I can get it without spending a dime, cut back my environmental impression, and assist another person declutter their house, all at the similar time. It’s a win-win-win.

My perspective towards the muddle in my house has modified too. I used to carry onto every kind of issues I now not wanted, from books I didn’t wish to shampoo that didn’t swimsuit my hair, just because it appeared like such a waste to throw them away.

But now that I’ve Freecycle, I can practically all the time discover somebody keen to show my trash into their treasure. And in the uncommon circumstances once I can’t discover a taker on Freecycle, I can throw issues away with out guilt, figuring out that they’re genuinely not helpful to anybody.

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