Don’t Just Recycle: Freecycle

Going green — By Stephanie on November 29, 2009 at 6:28 am
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Freecycle is the new "recycle"

Its been years since we first started hearing about the benefits of “reduce, reuse, recycle.”  Today, people in many areas of the world are doing a much better job minimizing waste than they were 20-30 years ago.  But, while we are working on keeping everyday packaging materials out of the landfill, what more can be done?

Enter Deron Beal of

Freecycling is a fad that will not fade any time soon – in my humble opinion.  Starting in 2003, the concept went viral through a website which attracted millions of people that were looking for used items to drop off and “new” ones to pick up.

In a recent Time Magazine article about his organization, Mr. Beal stated:

“The light bulb went off the day I realized that while recycling is great, if someone is able to reuse the stuff you no longer want, like your old sofa, you’re keeping not just a 100-lb. sofa out of a landfill but also 20 to 40 times that in the raw materials needed to make a new sofa.”

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What will you find when you join

We all know that using items that other people no longer want is very green.  Whether you think about it or not, going to garage sales and thrift stores like Goodwill can significantly cut down on waste.  Over time, this will make the planet a happier place.

Don’t believe me?  Consider these fast facts:

  • There are 4,845 local groups in Freecycle, worldwide
  • Over 6.7 million people are members of the organization
  • 24,ooo items are moved each day through Freecycle
  • As a result of their combined efforts, 700 tons of trash per day is kept out of landfills
  • Freecycle is adding 30,000 to 60,000 members each week

Freecycle now has a mobile application that they are hoping to use to reach the developing world.  Perhaps equally exciting is the fact that the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) in the United States refers to Freecycle as a “revolution in reuse.”

When you stop and think about it, the Freecycle concept is so simple, its a wonder it took until 2003 to take off.

If you want to learn how to freecycle, its really quite simple.  The following tips are found at

1. Find a freecycling group near you at Recycling Group Finder. If you can’t find a group near you, consider starting one, either on your own or through organizations like the ReUseIt Network,, The Freeuse Network,, Sharing Is Giving or The Freecycle Network. Freecycling works best when the group members live geographically close because it’s more convenient and uses less energy when stuff is exchanged.

2. Each freecycle group will have its own rules, so learn and abide by those rules. But commonly there are four kinds of posts: Wanted is you searching for an item; Found is telling others that you got what you were searching for; Offer is letting the group know what item you have to give away; and Taken is informing the group that you found a person who needed the item offered.

3. Before buying something, check to see if any one in your group is looking to get rid of the item you need. Before throwing an item in the trash, post an offer for the item to see if any one needs that item.

When you join Freecycle, you can interact with others that are offering or requesting used goods online.  Of course, you can do the same.  While the economy is has hit families hard, the Freecycle movement has helped consumers become conscious of excesses in their lifestyle.

“It’s made us more aware of being thoughtful with our consumptive patters, sort of like that grandmother who lived through the Great Depression and now saves every little bottle because she knows there will come a time when you’ll have to be careful with everything you have.”

So far, estimates are that there is one less landfill in the world, simply because of the impact of Freecycle.  That means that in the past 6 short years, significant amounts of trash have been turned into treasure!

What do you think the next 6 years will hold?  Where will we be in 2015?

Why not Freecycle?

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  1. nan says:

    Great information, Steph! Thank you!

  2. bob says:

    have u ever interveiwed two different people one who recycles and one who doesn’t if not u should.

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