Our popular Meet the client series reveals the inside story on the organisations we support with legal services. This time, we caught up with Deron Beal, Founder and Executive Director of The Freecycle Network. He shares his inspirational story of building the largest nonprofit international gifting community and keeping over a thousand tons out of landfills and incinerators each day.
Freecycle.org is a great resource started by people interested in keeping stuff out of landfills. There are more than 5,000 groups (usually community-based) around the world. Chances are there are one or more groups near you.
I belong to the one for my town as well as two nearby communities. This gives me more opportunities to get things for free and give stuff away. As a mom of two young kids, it’s been an invaluable way to get rid of outgrown toys.
Before you jump into the world of Freecycle, though, brush up on these rules of Freecycle etiquette.
The Freecycle website works a bit like any online auction, except no money changes hands. People gift unwanted items — anything from furniture to electronics, clothes, plants and even musical instruments — to neighbors in the same community. The winning bidder is usually the person who was the fastest to respond or had the best reason for wanting it. Unlike sites such as eBay, groups are formed locally, so most items are exchanged within a few kilometers of each other.
“From neighborhood thrift shops to vintage boutiques, almost every shop selling pre-loved items has baking and serving ware,” she said. “They can also be plentiful at flea markets and yard sales. Additionally, you can look at online marketplaces, Craigslist, other classifieds and ‘free stuff’ sites like freecycle.org. Lastly, hold on to baking ware you plan to replace — and you’ll be all set for your next potluck.”
Who would have thought it would be easy to find a home, other than a C&D landfill, for a few hundred pounds of concrete chunks dug out of a beat-up driveway? But a single post on a website launched in Tucson, Ariz. drew plenty of takers: a school making a garden patio; a builder needing foundation material for a straw bale home; and a guy crafting an outdoor bench.
Akin to an online classified ads outlet, that website, Freecycle.org, has exploded in growth since its beginning, when Founder and Executive Director Deron Beal set up a Yahoo group so his friends and a few nonprofits could link to the new site to give and receive all kinds of stuff at no cost.
Groups that promote gift-giving and exchanging goods and services for free have been around for some time. The Freecycle Network was founded in 2003 by Deron Beal to recycle items and Buy Nothing was started by Liesl Clark and Rebecca Rockefeller in 2013 as a social experiment on a local gift economy and to cut down on plastic use.
Most of you reading here have heard of FreeCycle.org. It is a nonprofit movement where you can get rid of items you no longer need by giving them away for free or request items that you need. There is another interesting site that is currently in its pre-stage that looks quite promising. It is attempting to address some of the major problems people have with FreeCycle.
If you’d like to share with people in your local community, consider groups like the Freecycle Network and BuyNothing (search Facebook Groups for one nearby). Freecycle, for instance, has more than 5,000 local groups worldwide, where members give and get free items.
“The window air conditioner you’re replacing with a new one is basically trash to you but could change someone else’s life,“ says Freecycle’s founder, Deron Beal. (These donations don’t qualify as charitable deductions.)
For giveaways only, Freecycle is a service that introduces local people who have stuff to other local people who want that stuff. Once you find your community Freecycle through the main site, you are instructed on how to advertise what you are giving away. Freecycle sends out your email to all of its subscribers and anyone who wants the object replies. Their email is pushed to your personal email, and after that, it’s up to you to contact the person and arrange for the giveaway. And you’ve made two people happy — you and the lucky recipient.
Alina Clark is about as tired of her pandemic wardrobe as her comfort clothes are stretched and torn.
“I have four sets of jeans, seven shirts and five sweaters that I wear every week,” said Clark, co-founder of a software development company in Los Angeles. “They’re everything I’ve worn in the last two years. Me and my wardrobe are suffering from COVID fatigue.”