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North Hills Monthly

Freecycle Users Save Money While Protecting the Environment

Apr 01, 2018 09:34AM ● By Marcie Barlow

Many of us have items taking up space in our garage, basement or the shed in the backyard. Previous generations would have listed them in the classified section of the local newspaper, and in more recent times, eBay and Facebook Flea Market pages have provided a more modern and convenient way to get rid of these things. Still, there are times we have items that we would love to give to our neighbors free of charge, and Freecycle fills this need.

Freecycle was founded in Arizona in 2003, and 15 years later it has more than 9 million members and 5,000 groups around the globe. The nonprofit Freecycle Network is a grassroots collection of people who are giving and getting free stuff in their local areas and also keeping these good and still useful items out of landfills. 

Membership on the site is free, and the guidelines for posting items are simple: they must be free, legal and appropriate for all ages. Local groups are run by volunteer members and moderators.

According to user Liz Mays, it’s really easy to both give and get free items. “I used it when my kids were going to college; I’d just paid off all of my debt and didn’t want to buy anything else, so I looked on Freecycle for a working refrigerator and microwave. I found both.

“I also used it to get rid of stuff when I moved; I had someone come and get my wooden chaise lounges as well as other lawn chairs,” she added. “Because you’re not negotiating for money, you can just put it out on your porch for someone to pick up—you don’t even have to meet the person who takes it.”

Infant and children’s furniture, clothing and toys are among the most popular items sought after by Freecycle users. In many cases, these items are like new and were simply outgrown rather than worn out. Living room and dining room furniture are also among the most popular items listed; perfect for recent college graduates or those just getting out on their own who don’t want to purchase these items new.    

Freecycle is also a hub for less household-oriented items. On the Butler, PA site, a recent post sought 15 to 20 plastic water bottles for a crafting project. While most people are accustomed to just tossing these bottles in the trash, with a little effort, the bottles could be dropped off with a new owner and provided with a brand new life.  

A local feral cat rescue was seeking Styrofoam coolers on the Pittsburgh Freecycle site. The coolers are used to provide shelter for homeless cats and kittens during the winter. While many of us don’t give a second thought to such items taking up space in the garage or basement, on Freecycle you can give them a new use and do a good deed while also reducing the clutter in your home.

“I’ve gotten scraps of material for crafts, as well as a box of cookie cutters,” said May. “A lot of times, it’s really random what you’ll find.

“It’s a great place to put things that aren’t worth saving for a garage sale, or that you want to get rid of when it’s not garage sale season,” she added. “And it’s right at your fingertips, so it’s really easy.”

Freecycle also has Facebook Page (The Freecycle Network) that provides users with great ideas of how to reuse or repurpose items that they have lying around at home. There are posts on how to turn an old television console into a plush home for a dog or cat, how to transform empty egg cartons and a string of Christmas lights into a unique yet practical lamp, and how to repurpose all of those lonely, unpaired socks that are just taking up space.

Freecycle proves that one man’s junk is another man’s treasure. Learn more at