Freecycle.org


I’m a saver. Always have been. At first, I saved everything because I might need it someday. Then, I saved it because my classroom needed all sorts of things for projects. Most recently, I have been hesitant to get rid of things because I don’t want them to go to a landfill, and I didn’t want to dump unsellable items on our local Goodwill. About a year ago, I discovered Freecycle, and it has been instrumental in ridding my home of clutter. Well, lots of it, anyway. 

For the uninitiated, please allow me to introduce you to Freecycle.org. These Yahoo communities are springing up all over the place. The stated purpose is to keep items out of landfills by offering them for reuse (or initial use, depending on the items). When you have something to get rid of, you may post it on Freecycle. Your offer gets sent to all group members, and anyone who would like it can email you. You decide who gets it and make arrangements for them to get the items. Every once in awhile, you will find a real gem, especially if you are doing something crafty or need kids’ stuff. We got our first baby bike helmet through Freecycle. I have also gotten bulletin boards, garage sale price labels, and an old bowling ball for landscaping purposes. More importantly, I have gotten rid of LOADS OF CRAP. Tools, old concert programs, décor, bottled water, appliances, books, unwanted toiletries and cleaning solvents, etc. Here’s an example of one of my recent posts:

Hello, Freecyclers

I recently discovered a large crate of items from my wonder years in my parents’ basement. This is quite a list – I considered not posting several of these items because they paint quite a picture of my glory days. But alas, I can’t just throw these treasures away without seeing whether they could bring joy to another household . . .

Please include the item number and a convenient pickup time/day in your response.

1. 3 frames, all with glass fronts. 2 are document/certificat e size with wood frames, the other is an 8×10 frame that is either pink metal or plastic. All have cardboard backs. I can’t imagine we paid more than $3 for each of them new, so they are not fancy.

2. Music theatre buffs – I have souvenir programs (the big ones with pictures) for Les Miserables and Miss Saigon when they were at the Auditorium Theatre in the 1990s. There is also a ticket stub for Les Mis, if you are into that sort of thing. I also have the playbill (the program everyone gets as they enter the theater) for Ragtime: The Musical. I think it was about 10 years ago at the Oriental.

3. Cheesy music buffs: I have a souvenir program from Richard Marx’s Repeat Offender Tour, circa 1991. Tall, feathered hair and mullet years. Oh, yeah.

4. Speaking of cheesy music: I have the Encore!/Playbill for the Barry Manilow concert when he christened the new Rosemont in 1995. Judge me if you must, but it was one of the best concerts I have ever attended. And, no, Item #3 does not represent the best of my concertgoing years . . .

5. 3 **** Academy varsity letters. 1 small one without an activity listed, then two big ones: one for Jazz Band and one for Honor Band. Perhaps someone could use them for teen character costumes?

6. This one is actually pretty cool – it’s the Beacon News special report on Operation Desert Storm from 1991. It has lots of visual aids and interesting information about the countries involved, the geography of the region, the weaponry being used, and other stuff. It is folded into quarters (the way it came originally) and is in terrific shape, like it’s been sitting in an airtight box for 18 years.

7. Disney Magic Music Days pin (it has a treble clef with a Mickey silhouette inside of it, and it says Disney Magic Music Days).

These last two items are more recent acquisitions:

8. Older clock radio. No bells and whistles – it’s just the standard AM/FM clock radio that has been jolting my husband awake for work for a few years. It works fine – he just wanted to upgrade.

9. I also have a half-full bottle of Tresemme root lifting serum.

You’ll be glad to know that I’m only about halfway through this project, so I am sure more gems will surface. I promise that you’ll be the first to know 🙂

Go to Freecycle.org to look for a community near you. You will likely get a lot of emails, and if that sort of thing bothers you, you can elect to get a digest email of all of the day’s posts at the end of the day. However, you may miss out on a lot of opportunities – lots of people give items to those who respond very quickly.

Here are a few tips if you decide to make use of freecycle.

  • Know what the group’s rules are, and follow them. Don’t offer or request prohibited items, don’t use improper format, and don’t tick off the moderators. These people have an absurd amount of discretionary power. Our administrator recently started kicking people out of the community entirely if they requested event tickets.
  • Be polite and a little friendly when responding to an offer. It also usually helps to give a very brief reason for your request. Don’t do a sob story or a 15-page narrative of your situation, though.
  • Always be safety conscious. If you are allowing a stranger to have your address, don’t give out a lot of personal information. Screen responders when possible. If you get an uneasy feeling about someone, don’t make plans to meet with them. It’s never worth it. I’ve never run into anything like this – most freecyclers are terribly nice people who are pleasant and polite.
  • Keep track. If somebody stands you up for a Freecycle pickup, you don’t want to waste your time on them in the future. We call those people “no-shows” – it’s a terribly erudite group. It’s also not a bad idea to track people who have given you items so that you can return the favor or to track people who have been really easy to work with.
  • Be nice to non-profits and teachers. Give them your items whenever you can.
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