Yeah, I said 'heart' - get over it. A THRIFTY MRS SAID HEART. Honestly though, I do heart Freecycle, I heart it a lot. If you have no idea what Freecycle is then where have you been?
Basically if you have something you want to get rid of be it a piece of furniture, a lawn mower, spare tools, baby clothes, moving boxes (pretty much anything), offer it on your local Freecycle and it's pretty likely someone will find a use for it and come over to take it off your hands. You don't get any money but most of the time it saves you a trip to the tip and it means you're doing your recycling bit.
On the other side of the bargain if you see someone offering something that you need, then you make your case (my case is usually 'I'd love the item, can make good use of it - when would be convenient to you for collection?' but a lot more polite) and if they pick you, you'll end up with something you've always wanted/needed.
I've managed to rid our home of half used tins of paints, stacks of wedding magazines, unwanted furniture, tools, spare electrical parts, office supplies, car parts and all manner of random crap we've found in our lofts, garages and cupboards in the various homes we've lived in together for the last 8 years. We've also been lucky enough to receive furniture (a lot of it not even removed from the flat pack packaging), bikes, bike parts, camping equipment, garden furniture, plants, fruit and veg and so many other things I'd struggle to list them if I tried.
Last weekend our neighbour's bathroom leaked into our bedroom and ruined not only my wardrobe but most of the clothes in it. The solution was some Ikea drawers because I didn't have time to search out vintage or second hand - all of my clothes were in a pile on the floor of the spare room. I paid my £45 in Ikea, made them up and then realised I probably needed another set at more expense. Gah. Later that day I was listing some tomato plants on Freecycle and happned to search 'drawers' and found a chap not 5 streets away getting rid of a set of the exact same drawers still partially in their Ikea packaging with only a tiny dent on one of the pieces of wood. Don't you love it when something like that happens? £45 saved, clothes stored and happy man 5 streets down currently tucking into a chocolate brownie Mr Thrifty made as a thank you.
- If you're new to Freecycle please don't go wading in asking for things. It is polite to offer a few things first. - Don't spam the community, be friendly and give detailed descriptions.
- Always read the rules. Each town or city has their own Freecycle site and they each have their own set of rules.
- Set up a separate email address just for Freecycle because even if you do set it to daily digest, if you go away on holiday you'll find your inbox clogged.
- Before offering something have a quick look to see if another member is currently looking for it.
- Again if you're looking for something have a quick search to see if another member has offered the same thing recently rather than start a new request.
- Don't lay it on too thick when asking for something - sob stories often get deleted or ignored.
- If you can't make it to pick something up or have decided the item is not for you please tell the person who offered the item well in advance of the time you're supposed to arrive. No shows are seriously frowned upon.
As with everything Freecycle has both good and bad sides. I love being able to save items from landfill, I love the sense of community it creates and I genuinely love being able to help someone out even if it is because we have some of those wooden Ikea dowel thingies and their new shelves didn't come with enough. A few of my gripes with Freecycle are listed below but their nothing major and for me the good out weighs the bad by a long way. If you're a student or have just moved out of home then you can do far worse that trawl your local Freecycle for things to make your new place a home - just make sure you're giving back, even if it is old text books or those magazines you never read.
- Some people are annoyed that items they offer are then sold on. I can understand why and I've had a 'professional Freecycler' benefit from my offered items but these people are few and far between. Mostly, I'd prefer it to go to a good home but whichever way I look at it - the item is no longer clogging up my house and I didn't have to take it to the tip or pay for the council to come and collect it.
- Choosing who to give it to can be hard. Usually I wait for a few replies to come in before making my mind up. Some people plead their case and some don't which can make it hard to narrow down who to give it to. Lately I've gone with first come, first served at it is working for me at the moment.
- For a while I became incredibly annoyed by the people who would ask for brand new dishwashers or televisions (which must be HD ready and at least 36inches wide) but I've mellowed and let the lunacy wash over my head. I did once see someone request a caravan and get one a week later - so you never can tell.
- No shows. My number one frustration in my Freecycling life is the people who don't show up to pick up when they say they will. No, I cannot rearrange my evening to suit you. No, I cannot take apart a bed frame in the street and then come to your house and help you reassemble it. I'm doing you a favour already, now off you pop.
How do you feel about Freecycle? Any positive or negative stories?
P.S. You can find your local Freecycle group here.