What is the Freecycle Groups Network?

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Pile of junkFreecycling is a new trend that saves both the environment and your money.  Based on the motto One Man’s Trash is Another Man’s Treasure, Freecycle is all about people exchanging goods instead of buying new goods and trashing old ones.

What is the Freecycle network?

The Freecycle Network is an online network made up of over 5,150 groups with 7.9 million members around the world.  How does it work?  Members give and receive items in good condition, free of charge, within their local communities.  The Freecycle Groups Network has grown over the years and now includes local communities in over 70 countries worldwide!

What kind of stuff can I exchange?

Just about anything you imagine can be traded on the Freecycle Groups Network.  Items posted range from clothing and books to video games, electronics, exercise equipment, kitchen appliances, furniture, and more.

How can I sign up for Freecycle?

You can sign-up by visiting www.freecycle.org.  Membership is free, and local communities are monitored by a local volunteer.  Items you post must be legal and appropriate for users of all ages.  They must also be free, no strings attached.  The receiver is responsible for obtaining the item, making it easier for you to give away your items and put them to use than to dispose of them in the trash.  But even better, is that you’ll probably find plenty of items online that you yourself can use, and they’re free.

Freecycle keeps it green

Not only is the Freecycle Groups Network useful for obtaining and getting rid of used goods, it helps saves the environment in the process.  Items are re-used instead of filling costly landfills and taking away and ruining precious land.  The Freecycle Groups Network currently keeps over 500 tons of waste out of landfills each day.

Have you freecycled? Share your experience below. 

Alex loves nature and does his best to take care of the planet. He doesn't take for granted the serenity that can be found in the stillness of an ancient forest, or the majestic power of the ocean's large waves as they crash on an isolated island shoreline. He wants to raise awareness for how simple it can be to make a couple changes in your everyday life that can make a huge difference for the environment in the long term.

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Anonymous
Freecycling is so cool. Just find a good group and you’re golden! Yayerr!

Going Green means living by the old adage, “Reduce, Re-use, Recycle”. Most cities and towns are on board with curbside recycling or providing recycling centers that are convenient and easy to use. Reducing consumption, however, is a great way to reduce waste and make a lesser impact on the Earth. And re-using items in good usable condition that you already have, instead of buying new ones, is a great way to reduce consumption. FreeCycle steps in on the level of local regions to help you to reduce and re-use, by giving away your unwanted items for free or getting items from others for free instead of buying new things needlessly.

If you are not already FreeCycling, you seriously need to sign up and get started. People are giving away so much cool free stuff, and if you do not need anything, you have the opportunity to help others by what you are giving out. It is a great way to help people in your community that you would have never met otherwise, but would have wanted to help, single mothers, families on a lower income, college students, schools etc. Your free stuff can go to a good home and if you need stuff, you can find so much here. I love being a member of my local group. I got a cool vase so far and a giant bag of CD jewels cases.

The FreeCycle Network has over nine million members world-wide and consists of over five thousand independent groups. The core concept behind FreeCycle is that you should be able to send your things that are in good condition to another person that wants them rather than throwing things into the landfill, and you should be able to get things you need for free rather than spending money to buy new. The site also encourages community by putting you in touch with other people in your local region. Giving and getting free things is free through the site and membership is free, too. The FreeCycle Network hopes that the site will encourage a worldwide gift economy to decrease waste and create a culture of non-consumerism and giving.

The concept sounds lofty, but it is a great way to save time and money while helping to keep the Earth green. The original founders of the site were from an environmental non-profit corporation in Tucson, Arizona who were trying to find homes for bunches of office supplies they could not use. Instead of spending even more hours trying to find another non-profit that might need what they had to give, environmentalist Deron Beal created a list server just for this purpose. Thus in 2003, FreeCycle was born.

What a really cool way to accomplish a number of really good ideals which is also actually practical. I know that there are many other people interested in getting a good deal on things, even if they have been used before.

Anonymous
The Network is based on giving, and it is important to note that this concept is different than the basis of giveaways. Unlike the “Free” section of the local paper or Craig’s List, FreeCycle is not a place to post things you do not want or need to get rid of but do not or cannot do the work. This is one of the first rules of use. And perusing the site does not mean you should get all the free presents you can hoard, either. The gift economy is a mutual exchange, and a present from someone is not the same as getting a freebie or giveaway. Being respectful is key.

Signing up is the first step to take in joining the FreeCycle Network, and it takes only a few minutes. Simply locate your region in which you live, and join that group. You are then able to make posts to the groups about things you want to give or get, as well as browse and respond to other posts. However, although it is free, you do need to be a member in order to browse the posts. Browsing before you buy is a nice way to see whether you are interested in anything that anyone is offering, or whether FreeCycle is an appropriate site for you to post your give-away items.

Some regional groups require that you be approved first by the moderators. To do this, you fill out the application form and then answer the questionnaire sent to your confirmation email address. When filling out the membership application, there is a portion that asks you why you want to join. Think about this carefully and be honest, because FreeCycle moderators want to ensure that members believe in and care about the mission of the organization and will uphold the rules of the group. Once your membership is approved, you will receive several emails explaining the specific rules and regulations for your regional group.

What can you snag through FreeCycle and what kinds of things can you gift to others? Computer printers, lawn and garden equipment, digital cameras, love seats, art supplies, tools, toiletries, baby clothes, toys, plants, and even your old wrist brace. If you want to give it away and you think someone will want it, post to FreeCycle and let the gift economy take care of it. The FreeCycle Network has several site-wide regulations, however. There are strict guidelines for postings, for example, such as that you are not allowed to go free shopping by posting items from your ‘wish list’. Trading, swapping, loaning, bartering, and any other reciprocation is also not allowed, and definitely no money can be involved in the gift. The gifts must be freely given with absolutely no twists or hidden agendas. Proselytizing is especially frowned upon, as is spam of any kind.

The whole idea kind of reminds of something like a non commercial version of eBay! I am actually in love with this idea and hope that it will continue to grow in popularity. The rules are also very well planned, laid out and explained.

Anonymous
The site regulations clearly state that you can offer or post a want ad for nearly anything. However, items must be, in addition to completely free, legal and appropriate for all ages. Specifically, pornography, tobacco of any kind, alcohol, drugs- prescription only or illicit, and firearms or weapons of any sort are absolutely banned from FreeCycle. Most FreeCycle groups also disallow want ads for computers, advice, tickets, copyrighted material, gift cards, soup box labels, and services. Under no circumstances should want ads be posted for basic need items such as food or shelter. Pets are allowed to be placed in a good home through the site, but FreeCycle will not allow the placement of pets solely for breeding purposes.

To use the site, place an “Offer” message on the list offering your gift item and stating where within the region you are located. Next, wait at least one to few days for the offers to come rolling in. Use common sense and arrange a pick-up with an offerer of your choosing. After the item is picked up, post a “Taken” message so that no new offers come in. Likewise, if you want an item, post a “Wanted” message, and a “Received” message one you have received that gift. FreeCycle only emails you personally with responses to your posts, which is great for keeping the number of emails in your Inbox down.

I really like using sites like this. Many people on here have specific needs and it feels good knowing that you can help someone who might be really in a bad situation right now. The economy goes up and down, but either way, this is an excellent tool which can help people band together and make it through tough times.

As I did my research for this topic, I came across a number of different testimonials and stories which related just what using this (and even other similar) site has meant to them. These ranged from the soldier who needed to get rid of a lightly used dishwasher on a short time notice, due to being deployed to the family with four children under the age of 10 that picked it up from him. Both parties were extremely happy the both found what they were looking for and that nothing was thrown away. After all, why contribute to increasing pollution if you do not need to?

I also learned that with free membership and groups organized by region and locality, these groups are continuing to flourish. The last statistics I saw were from a few years ago, but there were over 4,600 groups and over 6.2 million members throughout the world. These numbers are really incredible; it is an idea whose time has come.

Start using FreeCycle today, and see how marvelous a gift economy can be! I stand behind this even though I cannot find my favorite Dominican cigars on there! Although, now that I think about it, it would not be a great idea to trade for some used cigars!