What is Freecycle?

If you need to declutter, and you care about avoiding waste, Freecycle can help you.

What is Freecycle?

Freecycle allows you to donate your unwanted items directly to “a good home”.

I’ll give you an example.  Let’s say I have an old electric frypan.  I can’t donate it to charity because they won’t take electrical goods.  I don’t want to put it in the rubbish bin: it still works!  I’ve asked around, and I don’t have any friends who need it.  I can’t be bothered to e-bay it (and even if it sells, it might only make me a few dollars). I could have a garage sale, but I don’t have enough stuff, and that feels like a lot of work.  Even if I could find a charity store that would take it, it may sit for many weeks, months or years on their shelves until someone decided to make the purchase.

How do I use Freecycle?

  1. Go to www.freecycle.org or if down under, go to the Australian Freecycle site
  2. The Freecycle Network is worldwide.  Simply search for the group in your city or district.
  3. Join up as a (free) member for your particular area.
  4. Once you’re approved, you can post your ‘offer’ to the message board.
  5. You’ll then receive emails from peeps who want your item.
  6. You can choose who to give it to!
  7. You arrange for them to collect the item at a time suitable to you.


  • You can dispose of unusal items… a half used tin of paint, unwanted makeup or toiletries, craft supplies, an old kitchen sink or bicycle in poor condition. Freecycle is perfect for items that may be traditionally difficult to find a new home for.  It’s also fine to donate household items, furniture, all the regular type stuff you might sell or donate to charity.
  • Marrying your unwanted stuff with someone who wants it keeps more items out of landfill.
  • You can often Freecycle items same day – that is, you can stipulate on your offer that you would like the item picked up straight away.
  • You don’t have to meet the person.  I sometimes just leave the wrapped item on my doorstep with their name on it.  This way, I don’t even have to be home to make it happen.
  • You can list items that are broken or in very poor condition (obviously best to disclose that).
  • Unlike selling an item, no photograph is necessary, and the description doesn’t have to be a ‘sell”.
  • There is plenty of help at hand – their website has lots of info, and the moderators (those who screen the messages) can help if you really get stuck.
  • You don’t have to take your item anywhere.  Peeps come to you.

Why not?

  • Listing items can take a little time and you need to be comfortable using a computer. If you have many items to list, you may want to only list 2 or 3 items at a time in order to better manage the responses.
  • Be mindful that sometimes the items you offer can be very popular and you may receive many emails. You will then need to make a decision (and hopefully reply to those who missed out). Sometimes I find it hard to decide and wish I had multiple items.
  • On rare occasions you will get flaky peeps who tell you they dearly want and deserve your item, and that they’ll come by at a certain time and day to collect.  They don’t collect the item, and you never hear from them again.

Tips & Tricks

A couple of tips:

  • First up, READ everything you are first sent from the moderators at join up.  There are rules, etiquette  etc.  Moderators of the group donate their time and energy on this NFP (not for Profit) group, so please make their life easier by following the rules.
  • If you can, be specific in your ‘ad’. Consider including
    • measurements
    • colour
    • condition
    • age
    • how fast you want to move it

    This will save you time by avoiding questions posed on email.

  • Decide who you will give your item to early in the piece (eg, first in best dressed/fastest collection etc) as you may find it tricky to decide when the emails arrive – so many nice people and only one item!!
  • Get the phone number of the person you’re giving to so you can liaise about collection if need be.
  • You don’t have to meet the person or be home.  I often leave the item in a plastic bag on the front door with their name on it.  Having said that, I have made friends with a woman, Kathy, who lives up the road thanks to Freecycle! we have been firm friends for some years thanks to me posting an item I no longer needed.
  • PPU means “pending pick up”.
  • When you post, make sure you are near your computer for the next hour (or at least at home).  I once made the mistake of posting and then going out, came home to find dozens of responses!

Of course, you can also glean things from Freecycle!  All free!  But I know you really want to declutter, not collect 🙂

If you’re a regular user, you’ll note that there is now a freecyle at work. Obviously, this is of great benefit to large companies – it can serve as an alternative communications to office notice boards etc.

Tell me about your experiences – I’d love to know more about how you’ve used Freecycle, or hear about the kinds of items you’ve given away.


5 responses to “What is Freecycle?

  1. Hi Lissanne,

    I’m an avid Freecycler – mostly of my clients’ items, but sometimes my own – and I’m also a moderator for my local group. So I really appreciate the reminder to read the rules (there aren’t many) and follow them.

    Things I’ve given away: a set of motivational tapes, with 3 out of 10 missing, old cassette tapes, partly-used bottles of shampoo, school supplies like pencils and notepaper to a teacher, partially-burned candles that still had a lot of life in them, a partially-used helium tank for inflating birthday-party balloons, a broken Wii, scrapbooking supplies – and so much more.

    • Ah Jeri, yes, I too love to freecycle for clients. Good on you for moderating too. You’re right, the rules aren’t a big deal either. Thanks for commenting!

  2. We have found freecycle a great way to help the decluttering process. It assists us get rid of items that we may have held on to because they were perfectly ok and therefore we would have felt guilty about throwing away. We have given away include stereo speakers, computers (not working), computer parts, printers, magazines, books, packing boxes, CD towers, heaters, vases, and toddler toilet seat. Biggest and most valuable item we have received through Freecycle is a modern 3-seater leather couch. We’ve also received knitting needles, christmas decorations, scrap material, baby toys, and computer parts.

  3. I both like and dislike freecycle. Like it more than dislike it. Why dislike? Advertising stuff to give away is the same as advertising stuff to sell, in that you need to put in the time to describe it, and the fact that you are effectively inviting strangers to visit your home. Also my pet peeve is waiting for people who turn up late, or don’t turn up at all, as can happen when you are selling stuff. I don’t like being tied to the house. Mind you, you do have the option of leaving things out for people to collect when you are not home. Finally, you have to choose someone out of the many emails you will get back – most deserving, first response, person who lives closest to you?
    Why do I like it? It has effectively cleaned out my sheds, and house, of stuff that was useful but not useful to me. It saves landfill. It saves me transport time and cost. You can make new friends, and the relationship can grow – they may actually buy things off you “offline” later. You may meet up with people you have not seen for years.
    All in all, a great concept, but it would be nice if the collectors were more reliable. In an ideal world it would not be a surprise to have people turn up, on time, and be grateful.
    Freecycle introduced me to a group who rescue cats and dogs and rehome them by advertising available animals in pounds and other places. I now contribute to that cause. Setting the negatives aside, it can change your world for the better, in many ways.
    Sorry this got so long.

  4. Pingback: Taking advantage of anything that is “free” « Fire Survivors·

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