Do You Freecycle?

This piece originally appeared in my Green and Simple column on the Old Town Alexandria Patch.

Freecycle is a (usually) convenient way to give away your stuff for free, and pick up some things at no cost too.  

Though most people do their major purge and deep cleaning in the spring, I am a couple of seasons behind. During our last major purge a couple of summers ago, inspired by the kids, we had a yard sale. They earned money to spend on summer vacation and donated 25% of the proceeds to the Whitehaven Foundation, a non-profit that builds schools in Haiti.

This year, I’ve decided to keep it simple. I now think about purging as a process that evolves over time more than a task to be completed. For the past several weeks, we have been engrossed in this process, combing every closet and dresser drawer, bookshelf and shoe bin for stuff that could better be used by others. I was shocked to find that although our youngest and last child is five years old, we still had baby gear.

In the first in a series of piece on purging, I am highlighting the fun and follies of Freecycle.

What is Freecycle? It’s a network of websites stretching across the country that has a goal to connect people who want to get rid of stuff with people who need/want stuff.

How does it work? You visit the Freecycle website and sign up for your local listserv. Once approved, you post items that you want to offer for free to others, or claim things being offered by others. You can even request things that you want or need. You can check for new posts or check the status of posts on the Freecycle website, or you can get daily digests, which usually contain the 25 most recent posts.

I really like the concept of Freecycle. It is an easy way for people to get rid of things they no longer want or need. It is especially handy for those random things that might not make sense to donate. Spare parts to a blender that no longer works might be a treasure to a person across town who is missing said part. The camera that is five years out of date might be a treasure to someone with a five year old who wants to take their own pictures.

It can be quick! Tired of tripping over the rug in the hall? Post it on Freecycle and then toss it in the wash while you wait for takers. It could be out of your hair by nightfall.

It’s convenient! You do not have to go anywhere. Some people have reservations about having strangers come to their home to pick up goods. Many arrange for porch pick-up, so Freecyclers never even need to meet.

I have used Freecycle a bit over the last few weeks both to collect useful things and to offer things we no longer needed or wanted, and for the most part, it has been easy and successful.

I offered a terrific toddler bed that we had been using as part of a reading nook. I decided that it needed to go immediately, so when the first taker arranged a date and time to pick up and did not show, I was disappointed and frustrated. I was able to find another taker within a few days, but it belabored the process.

The Freecycle site does not allow links or photographs in posts, so you may need to email pictures or links to those who email for more details about things for which a visual is needed.

Be prepared to field at least a handful of emails, especially if you post something that is popular. Once you have a taker, you can post an update stating that the item has been taken pending pick-up. Once it is gone, you can change the post status to “taken” so that you will not receive any more emails of interest.

If you are picking up, only pickup what you claimed. While helping a friend move recently, I witnessed a person who stopped by to pick something up that she had claimed only to find that someone else, who had come to pick up other goods, had taken her item as well.

Freecycle is a wonderful way to reduce, reuse and recycle, right within your local community.

I used to participate in a local exchange based on the same premise that was organized by moms on a local listserv and was held at a local church. I have not particpated in one of those for a while and do not know if they are being held, but Freecycle is a great next best thing.

Stay tuned for more in this series on ways to reduce the clutter!

Filed Under: Reduce-Reuse-Recycle

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  1. […] Fun, Reduce-Reuse-Recycle. As I have written about a couple of times before, I’m an avid Freecycler. I like to think that I give and receive in equal proportion with a bit of ebb and flow. But, a […]

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