Saturday, November 26, 2005

IDEA: Give Stuff Away, Get Free Stuff You Need, Save the Planet!

Although Buy Nothing Day is a noble effort to remind ourselves that rampant consumerism is not a greenie virtue, sometimes a person just needs stuff. Here's one green way to acquire stuff that you might have bought new -- and its all free. Check out .

Similarly, if you have stuff you don't want, this is a great way to get it off your hands without sending it to a landfill. Sometimes folks will even pick up items that would cost a great deal to have hauled off!

Freecycle is a community of local members who list things they no longer want or need. If someone on the list has a use for the item, a pickup is arranged. Over the last six months I have seen everything from baby clothes to hot tubs, galvanized iron poles to firewood, lawnmowers and lawn chairs, rose bushes and expensive bed frames all in the Freecycle(tm) network.

Freecycle (tm) puts the REUSE component of Reduce, Reuse, and Recycle into play!

From the gifter's perspective its a great way to avoid throwing away perfectly good items, and to get someone to take the item off your hands.

The main freecycle web page,, can put you in touch with any one of over 3,200 local local freecycle lists world wide. The lists are hosted on Yahoogroups, and other than joining yahoogroups for free, there is no cost or membership requirement.

I happen to be the lead moderator of the San Gabriel Valley Freecycle list, about 900 members strong, covering from about Pasadena west to about Glendora, as far south as Whittier and El Monte. LAFreecycle has some 7,000 members, and covers a huge segment of the city of Los Angeles. There are local Freecycle lists for Burbank/Glendale, South Pasadena (very small, but growing) and more.

In addition to keeping tons of trash out of landfills, Freecycle participation tends to build community; the no-strings gifting of useful items can be quite rewarding, and one often establishes neighbor to neighbor relationships.

The rules consist of three major caveats:

1. Keep it Free & Legal for all ages. No money or trading is allowed, ever. The point is to keep it free. If you want to buy or sell something online, there is eBay and craigslist. Likewise, things with age restrictions (alcohol, firearms, etc) are not appropriate, nor would, say, samples of prescription drugs be allowed. Other than that, the only universal rule is have fun and be nice.

2. No politics.

3. No spam.

Different regional groups may have the occaisional different local rule. For example, SGVFreecycle allows pet OFFERS, but not pets WANTED; pet wanteds are referred to pet rescue websites. Some sites have no restrictions on pets, some do not allow pet posts at all. Most Freecycle groups ask that you begin participation by posting an OFFER, but stringent adherence varies. Be sure to read the "Welcome" file from any group you join.

Also, many groups do not allow wanteds for things that will be resold. SGV Freecycle allows them, but requires the intent to resell be stated up front, in the wanted post. Since the giver gets to choose, often from several people, they do not have to give to resellers if they choose not too.

Started by Deron Beal in Arizona, the Freecycle(tm) network has mushroomed to nearly 1.8 Million members worldwide!

Still not sure how it all works? Click the picture at left for an amusing little animation explaining the whole thing. It's free too!

With the winter holidays now nearly upon us, and the inevitable "winter cleaning" just before and just after all that gift giving and new year's resolutioning, this would be a great time to join your local group and help save resources.


Siel said...

Well, as I think you know, I'm a big fan of freecycle :)

Mandy said...

Freecycling is great. If you live in the UK you can use the new automated search site - GreenGonzo Freecycle Search at

Anonymous said...

great sites in australia saves landfill cheers warren

warren said...

excellent a++++++

Anonymous said...

very cool, the following ebay user gives away free stuff

Nicole Boivin said...

Hello, I'm Nicole from a search
engine for free and swap items. Our mission is to provide a
means for people to find items they need while reducing
landfill waste.

We would much appreciate a review of our site or any
feedback to help improve our service.

-Nicole Boivin