Frugal Living Tips: Freecycle

One of the first things my beloved Pranksters told me when I announced that I was moving from a three-story home to a 650 square foot apartment was, “WHAT ARE YOU THINKING?

The second was: “check out Freecycle.”

So I did.

frugal living tips freecycle

Freecycle is, in their own words, “a grassroots and entirely nonprofit movement of people who are giving (and getting) stuff for free in their own towns.” Considering I’m from the generation where reduce, reuse, recycle was one of the biggest things they taught us in school (also: scaring us about the possibility that the world could end for a number of reasons, including, but not limited to: global warming, tree deforestation, ozone, garbage dumps, and STD’s), it seemed like a win to me.

I’ve spent DECADES getting stuff together and throwing it into bags to take to Goodwill. I *thrive* on that sort of thing – I love a good purge of the house (or, in my current case, shoebox), knowing stuff I don’t use will be going to someone who really can use it.

But now, now I was in need of some stuff – basic things, really: kitchen stuffs, linens, towels – the sort of stuff you deal with when you move out on your own for the first time and your parents hand you a bag of stuff and you’re all, MOOOMMMMM, EW I HATE THOSE TOWELS.

Except now I’m 32.

Being the lastborn, my mom doesn’t have any more crap laying around to give me for my new bachelorette pad, because my parents now focus all their attention on their dogs, who have replaced my brother and I as “children.” (probably because they don’t talk back)

So I signed up for the local Freecycle and got all a-flutter. Hey, if you have to get divorced and move out of your home for awhile to get your head on straight, you really do have to look at the little things for joy. I couldn’t WAIT to see what gems I’d be able to unearth. I love nothing more than finding a gem in a pile of poo.

Within a couple of minutes, I’d been confirmed as a Freecycle member, warned I couldn’t post anything right away, and waited for the gems to roll in…

I won’t say that they haven’t, only that what people want and post on Freecycle is kinda…mixed.

Like someone wanted a boulder, which really left more questions than answers: How does one obtain a boulder? What constitutes a boulder? Do they mean an “over-the-shoulder-boulder-holder?” How do you transport a boulder from point A to point B? What would someone WANT a boulder for?

Entertainment: 1

Freecycle Items: 0

The upside is that if you’re looking for wacky stuff and are afraid of Craig’s List, Freecycle is perfect – generally people leave their stuff outside so you don’t even have to make small talk about WHY you’d want a boulder.

My biggest word of caution is this: you get a LOT of email from Freecycle – it’s not bad, but if you hate seeing YOU HAVE MAIL only to see it’s someone giving away (mostly functional) baby gates, you’ll probably want to set up some sort of filter in your email.

During my experience with Freecycle, I’ve learned this: you’re getting exactly what you paid for.

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9 thoughts on “Frugal Living Tips: Freecycle

  1. What really pisses me off about Freecycle is the First-come-first-served policy that seems to reign supreme. Gahd, but I cannot be at the computer 24/7 to get the good stuff. LOTS of people get shit on freecycle and then sell it for a few bucks on Craigslist or UsedYourCity (UsedVictoria, UsedSeattle, whatever). It pisses me off.

    And for reasons I cannot fathom, the no-shows are way way way more on the free sites. So now, I offer shit for free on freecycle and for dirt cheap on UsedVic. When people show up from the UsedVic site, I tell them it’s their lucky day and give it away for free. :)

  2. I’ve not had a lot of luck with Freecycle. Want a bookcase? Great! It needs some “love”.. meaning it looks like crap. You can paint it. But it still looks like painted crap and I just lost 2 hours and a can of paint on that thing.
    I stick around for the way to give stuff away. I try to be honest about the quality, etc.. and I don’t give junk or dirty stuff. I’d rather see it before I consider stuff.

  3. We have bolders. No joke, they’re all over up here. They have to use a dozer to move them, you know, for decorative purposes. Outside feng shui and shit. Unfortunately I’m not in your area so I can’t help that guy out.

  4. Is Kijiji a thing where you are? I know it’s very location-dependent, but I got a ton of stuff for free or close to when we moved – shelves and furniture pieces (I stay away from upholstered ones, just cause of the potential ick factor) often pop up for free.

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