These two have been around for decades, and both have a feast-or-famine reputation: You’re either lucky enough to live where there’s a great group offering great things, or you live in a place where people try to unload some pretty awful stuff. (Fun fact: A guy in Fairbanks, Alaska, advertised free dog poop — “You shovel, you haul.”)
Back in my starving-midlife-student years, I scored some free grub from Freecycle and Craigslist. You might luck out, too.
Freecycle: When stuff doesn’t sell or isn’t handy to donate, Freecycle is your friend. Post your item on the site — I always add the disclaimer that I won’t deliver it — and you’ll often find someone will gratefully adopt your item.
That bike you no longer ride or trunk full of baby clothes would be welcomed by folks who can’t afford such things. See if there’s a local chapter of The Freecycle Network, or put unwanted items up for grabs on the “free” section of Craigslist.
For safety’s sake, leave the stuff on the porch or in your driveway for someone to pick up. Or, offer to meet the new owners in a public place for a drop-off.
In its basic form, the sharing economy is focused on local swap, rental and gifting of assets such as space, tools, and other goods. Citizens advertise their need for an item or the items they have to spare, and rather than buying new which would create more waste, they share the items for some specified period of time. Such activities have been leveraging the internet since it was established, and today specialized platforms like Freecycle or Facebook Neighborhoods make it easier than ever. And governments stand poised to supercharge this process through facilitation and incentivization programs that make it easier and more advantageous to share.
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.”