You might have heard of Freecycle. There has been a fair amount of coverage in the national press in the past few years and the movement is growing phenomenally; currently boasting nearly six and a half million members across the globe.
Freecycle is a global community which aims to reduce the pressure on landfills by promoting the distribution of unused goods through the internet. It is, in effect, a sort of internet based ‘swap-shop’. The community is broken down into local subgroups, each of which has a website through which its members can post items they would like to offer, or ones that they need. Freecycle is a free service and all of the goods offered through it are also offered for free. In fact, that seems to be about the only rule – other than they you don’t head straight over to Ebay with your gifted items. The mods are fairly strict on this, and I believe that they monitor ebay and take swift action against members that abuse the service.
The type of thing on offer varies widely. I logged on today and saw the following on offer:
UVPC door and door frame, 1x Sky dish, 2x Box of envelopes, 4 pairs of jeans, various plastic boxes (the woman posted again to say that she had received over 30 requests for these) as well as an electric breast pump.
White goods, such as fridges and cookers are a common occurrence – as are beds, sofas and other things that would be perfect for someone setting up their first home.
The rate at which all of these items are traded is staggering, which means that you have to log on fairly regularly to catch the true bargains – however one mans rubbish is another mans treasure – there is always something to be had.
What impresses me most about the service is the people that use it. In the age of ebay, money can be had for almost any old tat but Freecycle relies on people giving things away with no financial reward, fairly unique in a money obsessed culture, especially in light of the much talked about credit crunch. Seems like there really is pleasure in giving, eh?
Freecycle truly shows how the internet can bring communities together. Now i’m going to have a look round the house to see what unused stuff I can get rid of.
The national Freecycle website can be found at http://www.freecycle.org, which has links to the various subgroups around the country. To dive straight into the Hull community, head to http://uk.groups.yahoo.com/group/hullfreecycle/ with your Yahoo ID.