Almost any time I do some uncluttering, I wind up with things that are still in good shape and that would be useful to someone. In many cases, it isn’t worth my time and effort to sell these items. While I sometimes donate such items to charity, I often offer them up on my local freecycle group.
Freecycle groups exist in local communities around the world, and they’re all dedicated to helping keep useful items out of landfill. The communication is usually done via email lists. I’m a huge fan — I’m even a volunteer moderator for my local group — for a number of reasons:
- Freecycle makes things easy. I offer the item, one or more people ask for it, and I pick a recipient. That person comes and just picks it up off my front porch, if that’s what I choose. I don’t need to go anywhere to drop something off; I don’t need to be home when the recipient arrives.
- I can give away things I couldn’t easily donate. What do you do with a bottle of a nice shampoo that you’ve used a few times, but decided it’s not quite right for you? I can freecycle that item pretty easily. I can also give away books with highlighting and marginalia, the plastic hangers that my neighbor was about to toss because Goodwill didn’t want them, a set of inspirational CDs with a few of the CDs missing, and houseplants.
- There’s usually immediate gratification. When I give something away on freecycle, I know it has gone to someone who really wanted it — and that’s a good feeling. I’ve especially enjoyed getting school supplies into the hands of teachers, and getting yarn to people who knit scarves and hats for a local charity.
And if I freecycle on behalf of someone else, I can pass along the sweet thank you notes I often receive. Here’s one example, from someone who took some Christmas ornaments I offered one year: “Thank you very much for passing these onto me. … The gorgeous ornaments will grace our tree and be part of our memories for years to come.”
- I get to know my neighbors. There’s someone I knew in passing before we crossed paths on freecycle, but I never knew he was into cooking until he sent me some requests. One freecycler lives a block away from me, and that’s how we met.And I’ve made some good friends using freecycle, too. One friendship resulted from giving away a single CD — Verdi’s Aida with Placido Domingo — back in 2009. Another friendship started back in 2007 and developed more slowly, as we kept running into each other on freecycle and began to realize the many things we had in common.
Steps you can take: Want to join your local freecycle group? You can go to Freecycle.org and search for groups that are part of The Freecycle Network. Because not all freecycle groups are part of that network, you might just want to use your favorite search engine to find your local group; search for the name of your city and the word freecycle. In the U.K., some freecycling groups have joined together to form Freegle as an alternative to The Freecycle Network, so you might look there.