The internet is awash in digital communities dedicated to the unconditional giving away of unwanted items —Craigslist and the Freecycle Network tops among them. But these folks found and stuck with a different space, one with growing traction in neighborhoods around the country and beloved for its sense of community, its members’ generosity and responsiveness.
A nonprofit organization, Freecycle has local groups all over the world where members can post items they want to give away or request items they need. Everything is free, with the goal of keeping usable items out of landfills.
It’s a feel-good site, in other words. And though items on offer can be hit or miss, if you live in a reasonably populated area, they’re often more hit than not.
Don’t be a victim. Never pay for delivery of a Freecycle item.
The incidence of scams is on the increase, on Freecycle and elsewhere. Here’s how you can identify a likely scam:
The offering member claims to have recently moved or posted to the wrong Town group and they need money to send the item to you.
The post contains a photo of an email address.
The subject of the post uses unusual punctuation or odd symbols, such as ~.ṀusicaĮ Įnstruments~
The offer seems too good to be true, especially if the member has recently joined Freecycle or posted the item to multiple towns that aren’t near each other.
Any time you find a suspicious post, or are asked to pay for an item or delivery of an item, please use the “Report” button on the post detail page, or send a message to your town moderators. Please don’t become a victim of another delivery scam!
Thanks for helping keep scammers out of Freecycle!
Freecycle Network in 2003 when he couldn’t find a place to recycle a perfectly good bed. The website started as a small group of friends and has grown to over 10 million members in 5,000 online communities across 110 countries. Volunteers moderate the groups, and Beal estimates members kept more than 807 million pounds of used items out of landfills in the last year alone.
Summer is a popular time for yard and garage sales, and you can get rid of unwanted stuff you might not need at your new home. Alternatively, you can donate your housewares, books, clothes, and other items to local charity organizations.
Global Gifting Movement Celebrates 20 Years: The Freecycle Network
June 1st, 2023, Tucson, Arizona – The Freecycle Network has been fanning the flames of the grassroots wildfire in communities everywhere as the largest recycling and re-use web community on the planet. And, now Freecycle is celebrating its 20th anniversary with nearly 11 million members in over a hundred countries. It’s these community members who are gifting tens of thousands of items every day on Freecycle.org. Freecycle –a globally local gifting community, or, as some say, a cyber curbside– is now enabling over a thousand tons a day to be kept out of landfills as a result. That means one less landfill on the planet and lots of happy recipients on a globally local basis.
Background: Our nearly 11 million members are doing this gifting each within their own local community in one of more than 5,000 local groups in more than 100 countries. This translates into fifteen times the height of Mt. Everest when stacked in garbage trucks over the past year alone – that’s over 807 million pounds of used items.
No one could have imagined that what began as a small circle of friends on May 1, 2003, would have evolved into the Freecycle of today. It was then that Deron Beal had a bed that he wished to recycle but discovered that the local thrift shops did not accept beds. In an effort to protect our planet and recycle a perfectly usable bed, he started a network of friends online and offered the bed. What began as only 30 members in 2003 has now developed into a global re-use movement.
What people often don’t realize is that thrift stores such as Goodwill have to dispose of over two-thirds of all donations given to them as they are unable to re-sell them. Freecycle fills that gap between items which may no longer have monetary value but are still perfectly usable and functional. If we can empower local individuals to gift then we are reducing waste and keeping good stuff out of landfills.
Thankfully, Freecycle is fueled by thousands of volunteers who devote their time and energy to this worthy cause in their respective local communities. If people weren’t basically good and giving, Freecycle would not work. But it does indeed, and on a massive scale. Freecycle creates a circle of giving in each of its local communities around the world. Working together, we can keep it green.
Lending credence to their motto of “changing the world one gift at time,” Freecycle is globally local — Each town has volunteer moderators and a unique Town group. Anyone living in that town is then welcome to post items to be given away or to seek items which they might be able to use. Whether it is an old door, a pile of dirt or a computer, it’s probably being given away on one of the local groups already up and running as you read this article.
The Freecycle Network is a private, nonprofit organization based out of Tucson, Arizona. Visit https://freecycle.org to find your local Town group. This nonprofit gifting movement enables individuals to gift items in their local communities rather than to throw them away. Freecycle has been featured in The Guardian, The New York Times, The Wall Street Journal and in People Magazine amongst many others in many countries of the world.
Liberate a closet near you, and keep usable items out of the landfill in the process!
‘Thank you so much again for lending it, and for the swag; we generated lots of excitement about FreeCycle on campus and saw a big increase in engagement with our town!! We had a few local businesses donate sustainable items like tote bags, a gift card to a local vegan restaurant, and a free repair for Birkenstocks which we drew winners for from a raffle of all the new and engaged users. I’m attaching a picture of the table as well as one of the BLUElab Metro Waste Reduction team. I apologize that we didn’t get one of all of us together at the table, we were often working in shifts of 2-3 at a time to accommodate class schedules.’
Information provided by Stephanie Smith of the University Of Michigan
A data breach on our site temporarily left members’ email addresses exposed. Fortunately passwords were not exposed, no other personal information was compromised and the breach has been closed (3/23) and reported to the U.K. Information Commissioner’s Office (ICO).
What this means for you: While most email providers do a good job at filtering out spam, you may notice an uptick. As always, please remain vigilant of phishing emails, avoid clicking on links in emails, and don’t download attachments unless you are expecting them.
Finally, we want to emphasize that passwords were not exposed in this breach. While you don’t need to change your password at this time, it’s a good idea to regularly update your passwords.
I apologize for this breach personally. Please know that we have extensive firewalls and security measures in place to protect Freecycle.org and its members and that this low-risk breach was our first in nearly 20 years. Know that the breach has been fixed and the private data potentially accessible was limited solely to the email addresses themselves.
-Deron Beal, Executive Director, The Freecycle Network