I love Freecycle ~ Have you tried it yet?

I have three main methods of disposal when it come to rehousing my clutter.

  • I donate most of my items to the thrift store. I have used the same thrift store since the beginning of my declutter mission and now I volunteer there as well.
  • I sell items that I feel inclined to recoupe my losses on, by auctioning them on ebay. It is a love hate relationship but all in all I have done pretty well out of it.
  • And then there is Freecycle.org This is my go to place for when I am trying to responsibly dispose of items that are not appropriate for the thrift store or that are too awkward to sell on ebay.

Freecycle, like ebay, can have its love/hate aspects as well. I have come across more than one potential recipient who messed me around, not turning up and generally wasting my time. There is at least one lady that often tries to claim my stuff that has surely got to be either a hoarder or owns a secondhand store. Either way she is hopeless at showing up on the first attempt. But I can forgive these little inconveniences because of the many time I have successfully rehoused items that may otherwise have gone to waste.

  • There was the broken guitar amplifier that one man was happy to tinker with
  • A lamp that needed rewiring
  • My old motorcycling leathers that were stiff from lack of use over 20 years and no longer fit me. These were eventually donated by the Freecycle recipient to a vintage motorcycle club to be auctioned to raise money.
  • The hutch from my entertainment unit. I kept the bottom as my lowline TV unit and Freecycled the hutch section. It was collected by a carpenter who was thrilled to use the lead-light doors and was also going to salvage the timber for other projects.
  • Numerous baseball souvenirs that weren’t worth the hassle of selling on ebay
  • Some Snoopy toys
  • A television that even the thrift store didn’t want. (Not featured as My Daily Declutter Item yet only collected on Saturday)
  • A selection of collectable Coca Cola bottles that I felt iffy about selling on ebay because they were full and awkward to post. I didn’t think these were appropriate for the thrift store either because someone might have bought them to drink and they were way past their used-by dates. (Friday’s declutter item)
  • And today’s declutter item, some seat cushion covers and back cushions for a pair of Ikea tub chairs. I doubt anyone would have wanted to buy these on ebay or at the thrift store but I found a taker on Freecycle within the afternoon or advertising them.

I know that there are a number of disadvantages of getting rid of your stuff this way…

  • Sometimes people don’t show up when they say they will or at all in some cases. I usually just put the item on my front stoop and the people pick it up when they are ready. What do I care if someone steals it, I don’t want it anyway. It is somewhat annoying though when people don’t show up to collect an item that I don’t feel comfortable putting outside, such as the television. I make a time, I wait around, then I get a text saying “Sorry something else came up.” and I have wasted my afternoon. Grrrr! For me though, I will suck it up for the satisfaction of finding homes for my stuff and keeping it out of landfill.
  • Another deterrent is the fact that you are giving complete strangers your contact and address information. Who knows what sort of people they are and soon they are going to turn up on your doorstep. I don’t let this bother me. I am sure there is only one fruitloop in a million and I haven’t encountered one yet. For the sake of extra safety, plan pick up times when you aren’t home alone.

In relation to people not turning us a arranged ~ I often pull the trigger too soon by being overeager to make arrangement with the first person to email in their interest in the item. I think it is probably better to wait a while, read all responses and pick the one who seems the most keen. Their eagerness may inspire them to be more punctual and accommodating. I will try this approach the next time I list something and see how it turns out.

The Freecycle Network™ is made up of 4,989 groups with 8,800,647 members around the world. It’s a grassroots and entirely nonprofit movement of people who are giving (and getting) stuff for free in their own towns. It’s all about reuse and keeping good stuff out of landfills. Each local group is moderated by local volunteers (them’s good people). Membership is free. To sign up, find your community by entering it into the search box or by clicking on ‘Browse Groups’ . Have fun!

If you haven’t tried it yet why not give it a go. You have brought all of this stuff into your home. You have come to the conclusion that you no longer need or want it. The responsibility is now yours to dispose of it responsibly. I have had people say to me “Finding ways to get rid of clutter is such a bother.” My response to that is “Try harder!. You got yourself into this mess and it is up to you to do the right thing by the environment while getting yourself out of it. Think of it as penance from your past indiscretions and as an incentive to be a more responsible consumer in the future.”

Today’s Declutter Item

Some time ago I bought some slip on covers for my ageing Ikea tub chairs. Included were seat covers and back cushions so the ones below became excess to my needs. I stuck them in the bottom of a closet where they hid for years. Last Friday I finally got around to advertising them on Freecycle.org and lo and behold someone claimed them. She was happy, I was happy and the cushions were saved from landfill and stopped cluttering up my closet. Win Win!

Tub Chair Covers & Cushions

Something I Am Grateful For Today

 

Finding the time to get started on making my Christmas cards. I got the housework out of the way, even pulled down the microwave and cleaned the little nook it sits in. Meanwhile I did three loads of washing and answered lots of blog comments. Snuck in the odd coffee and a piece of chocolate here and there and still found time to make some cards.

“In daily life we must see that it is not happiness that makes us grateful, but gratefulness that makes us happy.” Brother David Steindl-Rast

 

It matters not how fast I go, I hurry faster when I’m slow


Continue reading with these posts:

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  • Disposing of this weeks mission yields In a post a couple of weeks ago that asked a range of question about your clutter issues and my blog. One of the readers asked for more information on how to get rid of the clutter that […]
  • Day 177 Recycle R E C Y C L E         R E C Y C L E R E C Y C L E The Word for Today  is so simple yet so important. If you are not using something then it is just taking up space. There are so many […]
About Colleen Madsen

Colleen is the founder of 365 Less Things and lives in Newcastle, Australia.

Comments

  1. I’ve tried Freecycle, but I much prefer the “Free” section on Craig’s List. I now have how to get rid of free stuff down to a science. I rarely, if ever, give out my phone #. I leave all items outside, so never have to “meet” anyone (I’m often home alone). And I refuse to hold things other than the window of time I say I will. Once you figure out how to use the sites, it gets much easier, and you get to avoid many more flakes!!

    • Good for you Megyn. Craig’s List really hasn’t taken off where I live for some reason so that isn’t an option for me. I go back an check them out occasionally but there is so little on it and no one ever answers my adds. Never mind so long as it is going out the door to new homes who cares how we accomplish it.

    • I only prefer freecycle because here they kick you off if you are reported for not showing up 3x. I’m sure some people find a way around it, but at least you have to sign up for it, and the list owner knows if you are a frequent no-show. With craigslist, there is no accountability. I like craigslist, but have had some scary things happen through that too.

      • Hi Angela,
        I must admit I haven’t looked into whether my Freecycle group kicks people off when they are reported 3x for not showing. I have one person I would like to report. I’ll have to look into it.

      • Angela–Our Freecycle here is pretty inactive. Thankfully, I’ve created my system to avoid being put in scary situations. When free items are involved, I NEVER meet people…items are always left outside. When we buy/sell things, I either have someone come with me or give The Hubs/relative the address of where I’m going. Thankfully, I’ve only met really nice people thus far after three years of CL-ing. I hope you have better luck in the future…and I love your Freecycle’s policy!

  2. Calico ginger :

    I freecycle quite a lot, but my group (inner city Sydney) actively discourages leaving items out for pickup and in any case I am NOT comfortable with complete strangers on my verandah when I am not home checking out my entryway etc.

    I do my arranging by email only, and I meet my recipients, usually at the gate of my complex, and hand the stuff over, Without exception they have been nice people.

    It’s true that there can be a lot of faffing around with pick-up times etc but quite often the people have young families and/or no car which makes it a bit hard for them to coordinate things, but it is worth it to re-home those big, bulky or truly hard to get rid of items.

    I have only been the recipient once (I pounced on a artificial Christmas tree that someone was decluttering) and that was a nice experience too. Most freecyclers seem to be people just like us!

    • Hi Calico ginger,
      I am glad you have had good experiences with Freecycle and are prepared to forgive those who aren’t so punctual. It pays to be a little flexible when it comes to these things, quite often the folks using the sight to acquire things are living under much different circumstances than us.

      • Calico ginger :

        OK, Freecycle update: I Just popped over to Lilyfield to pick up a free copy of “The Slap” which is needed by my HSC student daughter, saving at $20.00 and as I drove away I saw a “Fascinator” lying on the road, a quick u-turn and I picked it up. It’s very pretty, and my daughter estimates it is worth about $30.00. I probably won’t wear it (too self-conscious), but she might. Some poor lady probably got a bit too “tired and emotional” after her Melbourne Cup lunch, but we are very grateful and I think the freecycle gods are smiling on me!

        • Hi Calico ginger,
          the book sounds like a bargain since your daughter needed it for school but the fascinator sounds like free clutter to me. Perhaps you should have done Sunday’s mini mission yesterday. Did you have a flutter on the Cup?

  3. Timely post! There are boxes of things that are decluttered but still hanging around as well as some bigger items. Much of it needs to be sold but I should take this post as a kick to take a look if anything big can be given away . And I should do it right now!

  4. Just one word of warning: it was in joining up to Freecycle that I was hacked, and found that “I” had contacted every one of my contacts asking/demanding money as I had been attacked and stranded in London. (Meantime, of course, I was at home in New Zealand, mending a badly damaged leg.) NOT a good experience, and has made me chary of the site.

    • Hi Ann, I clearly remember that incident and can understand your trepidation when it comes to joining any on-line site after and experience like that.

  5. Well, let’s see how it goes … I just listed three things for free: a bag of mismatched doll clothes that need a good washing and some mending after 20 years in the attic, a big cardboard box of faux fur for bear making and a small parasol for the beach or the balcony.

  6. Thanks – I just posted some stuff to freecycle! I find where I live now, the groups are not as active as in the past (but near where I work is more active). It’s a pain, cause some items I really don’t want to drag into work. I find the ‘leave and get when suits’ works well, only because I can’t be sure I’ll be there when they might/might not come. Sure, they scope out my house (and dog) and someone in my family might be home. But if I met them, they could do just as much scoping before they knocked at the door. As I said, they never know if anyone’s home as it is.

    And then that leads me to… what would they steal. Would you try to resell clothes or books if you were a junkie? Perhaps that laptop (well more laptops in my house don’t work than do, and are awaiting data clearing before being taken to a new home). So if they steal those – THANK YOU!. A camera, or another electronic doodad, I wouldn’t be that disappointed, honestly I wouldn’t. If they thieved, and didn’t leave an uncleanable mess, it would be an annoyance (but one not worthy of the caution I’d otherwise need to show to every pick up). My ‘value’ in possessions, and privacy, is evidently low!

    • Hi Snosie,
      you seem to have much the same feeling about it as I do. Pick up can be a little inconvenient at times but you don’t find the process scary or invasive enough to deter you. Good for you. One thought I just had and I may add it to the post ~ I often pull the trigger too soon by being overeager to make arrangement with the first person to email in their interest in the item. I think it is better to wait a while, read all responses and pick the one who seems the most keen. Their eagerness may inspire them to be more punctual and accommodating.

      • Yeah I’ve had to learn to ‘sit and wait’ (at least until the email digest has been sent out). Freecycle advises to be choosy, not just a ‘first in, best dressed’ policy, and I agree. This week, I’ve had takers on French books (which I got from freecycle and have seldom used), and a padded hammock chair (such a kind gift, but a headache to work out how/where I might use it, and whether it would hold blah blah…). So success this time! Two from two!

  7. Hesitated to post since it’s not likely I will try “freecycling”. I signed up for a local group, perused the “wants” and “giveaways” but, honestly I would have no patience for “flakes” that don’t show up. Craigslist is too darn scary and Ebay is too much work. (How’s that for honesty?)
    Most of the things I de clutter go to the Salvation Army, and local drives.
    Also to needy families. I don’t feel I need to find a “home” for everything. Some things do get tossed. (There, I’ve said it!) I don’t like to spend a lot of time during the whole de cluttering process because, honestly, “stuff” just isn’t worth it. For me, I find it’s better to be quick about it. Make the decision, and just do it. If I have to pay a bit of $ to take some large objects to the dump, well I just figure that’s my “stupid tax” and it reminds me to bring less into the house in the future.

    • Hi Amy, never hesitate to write whatever you like, everyone is entitled to their opinion. I can understand where you are coming from here because complicating the process of decluttering could be a real turn off for some people that would stop them from ever getting anything done. I know that some things have hung around in my home for months while I have figured out the best way for me to rehouse them. For me I don’t mind so much because my home was never visually cluttered but for others, they may need to make some quick steady progress in order to feel like they are accomplishing something. There are also folks trying to do this while raising a family and holding down a full time job which is all time consuming enough. The thought that keeps coming to my head though is that it took time to shop for all this stuff, individually, bit by bit and we didn’t mind finding that time in our busy schedules. So why not find time to rehouse the things that are a little more complicated after all it is only a small percentage of items. Out of my 500+ items I have only Freecycled about 10 items but they were 10 items that would have either ended up in the trash of been very hard to get rid of any other way.

      • Perhaps I will try Freecycle one day. Right now it would put me “over the edge”. When you spend months clearing out a house, you become very jealous of your time. Time is the one thing you can never get back.
        It’s true that many people are busy with jobs, family, etc and can’t do a “perfect” job of de cluttering and finding homes for everything, but “the perfect is the enemy of the good”.Your blog is important because it reminds us all to do whatever we can now to reduce the clutter in our homes. If I don’t do it all perfectly, that’s ok. Sometimes I’m good at finding homes for things and other times I just “want it gone”.No one is going to put “She kept everything out of the landfill” on my gravestone. And that’s ok.

        • Trust me Amy mine isn’t a zero waste home either, some things just aren’t worth salvaging.

        • Oh Amy, you made me laugh with your comment ‘No one is going to put “She kept everything out of the landfill” on my gravestone. And that’s ok.’!!! I need to hear this every so often, while I am mulling over my worn items and thinking, It’s still good!! – but it’s not 🙂

  8. I too have tried freecycle, now I use ziilch.com its free & haven’t had a drama, it is run by the daughter of a lady I know! It is awesome, I even won a prize at Fathers Day, best gift he’s had in years…LOL.

    Have cleared out a few items to recycling today & got kids to help tidy & cull their stuff, lovely day at home for Melbourne Cup.

    • Hi Karen,
      I have never heard of ziilch, I will have to check it out. It must be a day for getting the kids to help declutter. I had a pile of my son’s old school papers and he went through them for me to choose what he wanted to keep. That amounted to just about nothing. Now it is my turn to go through it.

      How did you fair with the Melbourne cup? I got together with some neighbours and we had a sweep and I won. Woo Hoo!

  9. Freecycle works really well for us – I have both given and received thankfully!

    In fact my most recent story is about making a freecycle item work for me… http://minimalistmum.blogspot.com/2011/10/more-vegan-waffling-sticking-to-it.html

  10. We have no such things as Freecycle over here in the countryside.
    What I could do, is to leave something near the recycle cans, situated near the stores, for someone to pick. Or, we could leave stuff outside our fence and place adds in local shops, that there is stuff available for anyone to come and fetch.
    Do you have other ideas Colleen?

    • Hi Metscan,
      I live on a reasonably busy street and I sometimes put larger stuff out on the street to give away. I love checking to see how fast the things disappear and disappear they do and quickly. I like all of your ideas but have you ever considered getting together with the people you know and forming an emailing list, then when someone has something to give away, share or even if they are planning a community get-together a message can be posted. One of the social groups I am involved with have something like that through Facebook. We mostly use it for gatherings but it could be used for all this kind of thing. In fact it is time I started to get more involved in that capacity.

  11. I used something like a freecycle/craigslist only one time (currently live in foreign city). It worked great for that large item. Then I read through the comments and this caught my eye: amy in NY wrote, “…’stupid tax’…reminds me to bring less into the house in the future”.

    BRING LESS INTO THE HOUSE!!! AMEN TO THAT!!!!

  12. Colleen,
    things are already taking off here but some folks sure are complicated. Dolls clothes will be picked up tonight and five people wanted the fake fur so far, so if number one doesn’t stop being so – sorry – stupid I’ll find someone else. Only the parasol is not getting much attention but no wonder, there will be no use for it for about the next 7 or 8 months. If it doesn’t go I guess I can live with sticking it back in the attic until spring. Or maybe someone at the Give-away-thing I plan on hosting soon will want it. (Last year I invited friends for a nice get together with coffee and christmas cookies and put up a table with stuff I did not need/want anymore for everyone to take for free if they wanted it. It was a nice afternoon and I especially enjoyed to get rid of some things (candles, envelopes, rattan storage things for on top of a cupboard that I don’t have anymore) that were usable but not necessarily sellable (or donatable). One suggested why not have everyone bring decluttered stuff and I want to implement this idea this year.)

  13. Hi Colleen

    I sometimes advertise on freecycle as well and am not comfortable with people coming around my house. Whenever possible I use my alternative location – work. I put it in my add where collection point is and what times, e.g. company’s carpark between 12-13 so people know straight away what my conditions are.
    That way I also don’t waste any time waiting for them at home.

    On one occasion someone did not show up after I had already given my address and of course did not even text to let me know. Rude and annoying. The good news is that the family that did show up the next time I advertised came right on time and were very happy with the item, and with them I was extra happy too – one bulky item was leaving the house and the recipients were very appreciative. Win-win.

    • Hi Ornela,
      I think being precise about a time is a good idea. It sets your boundaries and the person knows you they will miss out of they don’t comply. You will still get the odd person who doesn’t show but the time you save with your no nonsense guidelines the rest of the time makes up for the odd inconvenience. Well done you.

  14. The Other Lynn :

    I use freecycle all the time. We gave away the fixtures from the bathroom when we remodeled it. Right now, I have someone coming for the ceiling fan we just replaced. My favorite “catch” is the bike trailer I use for hauling my kids to the library… free, in very good condition, and very, very expensive! We use it lots!

    • Hi Lynn,
      I have never actually received anything from Freecycle only given stuff away. I did place a couple of wanted ads once with no success though. I must try it again sometime if there is ever anything I need. I do have a little look at what is being offered when I go on there to place ads but have never seen anything that took my fancy.

  15. short report back: 23 hours after listing 3 things, one is gone and one (the bulkiest) very likely to be picked up tomorrow.
    I guess you can officially claim Jedi powers now, Colleen. You are half way around the world and moved one bag and one big box of stuff out of my apartment in a wink. Keep on bugging us, master! 😉

    • Hi Ideealistin, this isn’t the first time someone has suggested I have Jedi powers, so maybe there is some truth in it. I will focus on the parasol now and see what happens. Be patient young Padawan I am sure it will be taken in good time.