The freecycle movement is one such community that believes in this principle of giving. In Ireland it takes the form of a Facebook group (Zero Waste Freecycle Ireland) with over 13,500 members, where people post things they would like to give away for free. Anyone can comment underneath an item in order to claim it. Similarly people are free to announce that they are “in search of” something. You could deck out an entire student house with necessary bits and pieces: plates, cutlery, beds, books and posters are given away every day. My own house’s student-grunge decor has benefited greatly from freecycling. At this point we are living in an emporium of the weird and wonderful as one of my housemates has become particularly attached to the thrill of finding random free oddities online.
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.”)
Updating your furniture is a good way to change your space, and you don’t have to break to bank to get some unique pieces either. Online marketplaces like Ebay (ebay.co.uk) and Shpock (shpock.com) are a great place to look for cheap vintage items, and Gumtree has furniture going for rock-bottom prices too. If you’re really tight on cash, you could also try Freecycle (freecycle.org), a grassroots movement of people who are giving (and getting) stuff for free in their own towns.
Old photographs of immigrant ancestors or a city scene might interest historical or genealogical societies. Interesting or vintage photos could also find a new home through Freecycle. If the photos have the right appeal, a stock photo company, like Adobe Stock, might even pay for them.
For most people, moving to a new house means having to get rid of a few things, and pieces of furniture gradually get replaced by better quality items over the years. That means if you ask around, you will almost always be able to find useful items that people are happy to give you for nothing – everything from sofas to kitchenware to carpets. If your family and friends can’t help, try Freecycle. Many charity shops also deal in low-cost furniture and homewares, even if they don’t have them on display. Remember that as long as what you get is still in sturdy condition, you can usually cover up superficial damage at a trivial cost.
When possible, reuse is even better than recycling. If the toys are still in good condition, passing them along to a younger child or offering them on Freecycle are good options. If they’re like-new or collectibles, selling them on Craig’s List or eBay is an option. Even items that aren’t in the best shape may attract a buyer; I saw a “Drowsy Doll” like I used to have on eBay — it sure brought back memories!
Those not tempted by a cracked bowling ball might consider the myriad other items offered for free on websites including Craigslist, Facebook and Freecycle. Recent offerings include bathing dust for chinchillas, 23 empty beer bottles, a barrel of used soybean oil, five single-serving packets of Arby’s sauce and a Mongolian-language version of the Book of Mormon.