Decluttering? Try Freecycle

A few weeks ago I read a great post about decluttering. Inspired, I immediately set about collecting and getting rid of several bags worth of unnecessary stuff. Although a few items just went straight into the trash, most things I wanted to pass along because they still had plenty of life left in them. In addition to donating items to thrift stores and the library, I also gave away several things through Freecycle. If you’re unfamiliar with Freecycle, today I want to share a bit about how it works and what I use it for.

Freecycle is a nonprofit organization that facilitates the free exchange of possessions. People pass along things that they no longer need to other people who are interested in obtaining them. The ultimate goal is to keep useful items out of the landfills. There are Freecycle groups in many different cities. You join your local group and then post to the group whenever you have items you want to give away.

I think Freecycle is a great tool for paring down your possessions. I find that it fulfills a great niche for things that I can’t donate to a thrift store, library, or food bank. While I love supporting thrift stores, libraries and food banks, there are many items that these organizations simply won’t take. I have Freecycled things like opened packages of food, books with writing and underlining, opened boxes of tampons, and speakers that don’t work perfectly.

Now, there are some drawbacks to Freecycle. You have to coordinate pickup logistics with the person who’s picking up your stuff. I have also found that people who respond to your offer emails can sometimes be unreliable. Several times I have had people say they’re going to come get something at a particular time and then never show up. We usually reschedule but I find the unreliability annoying. I think that some people just don’t always feel the need to follow through because they haven’t invested any money. If possible, the best way to get around this is to just leave the items outside your home so you don’t have to wait around for the person to show up.

Because of these drawbacks, I find Freecycle to be less convenient than simply dropping off items at a thrift store or library. So, I mainly use Freecycle for things that I can’t give to these organizations but that I still think could be useful to others. For instance, we recently donated our old computer speakers. One of the sound channels was broken and I didn’t feel right about giving defective speakers to a thrift store, since someone might buy them without realizing they were broken. The speakers still worked well for most things, however, so I gave them away via Freecycle. The man who received them said that they were an upgrade over his previous speakers.

I also think Freecycle is a great option for ridding your pantry of foods you no longer want to eat.

I’m so glad that Freecycle exists. I think the fact that you can pass on useful items to other people instead of throwing them away makes it a lot easier to get rid of things that you don’t really need anymore. If you’re anything like me, you probably have at least a few of those types of things in your life.

To see if there’s a Freecycle group in your city, visit the Freecycle website.

Have you used Freecycle? What other tools do you use for decluttering?



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9 Responses to Decluttering? Try Freecycle

  1. I've never used Freecycle, but think it sounds like an excellent organization. I would certainly give it a try.
  2. I've used freecycle quite a bit in the past. It's also usually a great way to find boxes before moving. I usually put out a request and can get some pretty quickly. Lately, if we have something to get rid of that we don't want to donate, we just put it out by our dumpster. Since we live so close to the university, college kids usually take whatever we put out within a few hours!
  3. Oh, nice! Are you getting to move to somewhere a bit bigger?
    • Meghan says:
      Yes, that's the plan, although we haven't actually found the place yet. Right now it's all fall pre-leasing or places that are available NOW, but our lease isn't up until the end of April so we can't move until then. So far the search isn't going particularly well, but hopefully more places will open up as we get closer to April. I really want a bigger kitchen, a balcony/patio, and just some more space in general. Other amenities would be nice, too, but I don't really know what we'll be able to find in our price range in Boulder. :) Cross your fingers for me!
      • Ah yes, apartment hunting is always so much fun in Boulder! Good luck and I hope you're able to find a great place. One of these days I would love to have a big kitchen again (I had one before we moved to Boulder and unfortunately before I was really using my kitchen like I do now!). If I happen to hear of anything, I'll let you know!
  4. I have never used Freecycle but I think it is a great idea. I have a Goodwill with a drive through in my area and I can pull up and drop off. I HATE clutter with a "with trip it in the lunchroom" type passion. A trip to Goodwill makes me feel better.
  5. Jer Marie says:
    Ohh... would like to try that, donating some stuff I don't really need but I don't have the heart to throw it away because it may still have a use. By doing it, I can help other people and not be one of the "not concerned" to our Mother Earth.

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