We’re all about free stuff here at BB, and constantly suggesting that you “look on Freecycle” for just about everything from moving boxes to home decor to Halloween costumes and more. So what is Freecycle, and how do I get free stuff?
Freecycle is an email-group based network where people can offer things they no longer want, or ask for things they need! Best of all, it really is completely free… and the goods are only limited by your imagination. Need art supplies? A goldfish tank? A bicycle? Just ask, and someone in the network may well have one gathering dust that needs a good home.
In the weeks since I joined prior to a big move, I’ve gotten 150 square feet of bubble wrap and a box to ship my TV in, and I’ve given away a camera, a couch, and a broken blender (to someone willing to buy the $4 part needed to fix it)!
Each sub-network is local to your city to ensure all items are picked up in person and there is no shipping involved. Here’s how to join and take advantage of Freecyle.
1. First, find your local network by going to and entering your city or zip code. You’ll need to follow instructions there to join your community, and that step does help weed out some of the flakes from Craigslist.
2. Once you’re part of your local group, you can look for offered items sent to the list, and respond directly to the giver to arrange for pickup. You can also, of course, offer your own items, to save the time and expense of a trip to Goodwill, or to give out an item that Goodwill may not be able to sell (like my blender).
3. While the offers can be kind of random, the beauty of Freecycle is that you can also post a message to ask for specific items you want! While beggars can’t be choosers, you can specify the condition of an item you want and can discuss an offer before agreeing to pick up an item to confirm it will meet your needs. In my large urban group, I’ve seen WANTED requests filled for big-ticket items like bike racks, beds, and appliances. Requests for smaller things many people have (moving boxes, small kitchen items, grocery coupons, books) are almost always a good bet.
4. Each local network tends to be filled with people who are also interested in reducing landfill waste by recycling goods that still have life left in them Users seem to keep up their karma by being less flaky than Craigslist users who, in my experience, have a bad track record of not showing up when they say they will. Many user groups have guidelines that you can post or take as many OFFERED items as you want but limit the number of WANTED items to, say, one per week, and these guidelines also tend to keep the sense of community stronger.
Tip: if your local Freecycle group is an email list (rather than a list you log in to see), set a filter so that posts don’t flood your inbox. My local group sees 40-60 posts a day. Some local groups require a login to the Freecycle site to view offers, which is a bit more work but saves you from being overrun with offers for baseball cards and women’s pajamas.
What free stuff would you like to score?