I spent some time in December looking back over my year. I realised that I did a LOT of Freecycling - mostly kitchen stuff as we rearranged our flat to suit an expanding family. Freecycling is brilliant! It's an online match-making service to put people with unwanted stuff in touch with people who can make use of it. Are you planning a spot of decluttering after Santa deluged the contents of his sleigh in your living room? New Year's resolution to simpler living? Or looking for fodder for a new project? Get Freecycling!
One of the many great things about Freecycling is that the onous is on the people receiving the goods to collect them from you. Brilliant if, like us, you don't have a car. It is also brilliant in its simplicity. You tell people what you want to get rid of, or what you need, and they respond. Sort out the arrangements between yourselves and that's that! It hasn't been plain sailing every time I've used Freecycle so I thought I'd share a few tips on how to make it a stress free experience.
1. The first rule of Freecycle is...do it. Don't asume people won't be interested in your junk - you'll be amazed what some people want. An art student who wants broken old crap for a project, a techie who can fix things you thought were way beyond repair, someone who wants old clothes and towels for their dogs home, or someone setting up their first home with not a penny to their spare are waiting to hear from you.
2. Be obvious - try to make it REALLY clear what you are giving away and what condition it is in. Add a picture, but asume people haven't seen it (for some reason this is often the case) or read what you actually wrote so check that they know what they're getting before you arrange for them to collect. I've learnt from experience that some people only read the title of your post before saying "me, me, me" only to realise on your doorstep that they wanted a kitchen cupboard unit, not some drawers etc.
3. Be nice. If you're not polite in your email requesting items, and if you don't put your name, then I'm not going to get back to you. Likewise, don't mess people around who are taking the time to come and collect stuff from you.
4. Be safe. You're inviting strangers to your house so don't be daft. I'm friendly to my fellow freecyclers (who are usually lovely in my experience) but I don't generally let them in my house. A bit of banter on the doorstep is fine in my book. If you people must come in to help shift big items, arrange for collection when you're not home alone.
5. Be quick. If you want to have a chance at getting your hands on some reasonably sought after freebies you need to be pretty quick. I've actually had an email from someone asking for my stuff before my post appeared to have been approved by the moderator! I do tend to wait until a few answers come in before deciding who to hand the stuff over to.
6. Be choosy. If you're giving away something lots of people will be interested in you can be choosy about who you give your goods to. I opt for different people in different circumstances. Sometime I want stuff taking away quickly or with minimum hassle so I pick the person who tells you that they have a plan for transport and immediately offers reasonable collection times. Other times I might go for someone that tells a good story about why they want the goods.
7. Don't be too disapointed if you see some of your stuff down the local car boot. The main point of Freecycle is to find new homes for stuff - if someone can do this down the local car boot, and earn a bit of cash, then great for them. If you really don't want this to happen then be very choosy about who you hand your stuff over to or take it to a charity shop. Or spend your saturday sitting in a cold school car park.
And don't forget your local charity shop - I still take small saleable items to charity shops and give preference to charities that request stuff from me on Freecycle. I haven't been donating much money to charity this year whilst on maternity leave and have quite a lot of saleable baby stuff to get rid of so we've actually just booked a Zipcar for an hour for a serious charity shop run this weekend.
What are my all time favourite Freecycle moments? The time I got a sweet phone all from a young girl thanking me for my old clarinet that her mum had bagged for her. The time I helped a cash strapped friend pick up a bike for her young sister for Christmas from a windy car park somewhere in Northumberland whislt out for a ramble. And the time I bagged a bonus oregano plant whilst collecting a DIY work bench - it made very many tasty meals in subsequent years.
Next on my hit list? Some of this lot...