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What is Freecycle?

By J. Beam
Updated Jun 04, 2024
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Freecycle began as a grassroots movement that is now utilized by people all over the world. Freecycle is both a concept and a network. Though the concept of freecyling is much older, the network began in 2003 in Tucson, Arizona with only a few dozen people. Today, the Freecycle network is a non-profit organization serving to help people and reduce the amount of waste going into landfills across the globe.

The concept behind freecycling is finding new use for old things rather than throwing them out. Sometimes household items and appliances are replaced even though there’s plenty of use left in them. The ability to find someone else to take old, useable items has several benefits, but finding someone to take used items can be difficult. When the Freecycle network was established in 2003, it became possible for people to use the power of the Internet to further this concept. People from all over the globe can join the Freecycle network and post their requests to give or take a specific item.

Items that are freecycled include swing sets, lumber, furniture, glass, and computer components. Anything that a person has to give away that might be useable to another person is fair game. The primary rule of freecycling is that the item has to be given away, not sold.

The Freecycle network is primarily sponsored by Waste Management and the Recycle America Alliance and has groups around the world including Australia, Canada, the United Kingdom, Germany, and many other countries. There are hundreds of thousands of members around the world, many trying to make a difference. By creating a central place for people to check for freecycle items in their area, it is easier for people to find free, used stuff and the number of items going into landfills is also reduced.

The main mission statement of the Freecycle network is “to build a worldwide gifting movement that reduces waste, saves precious resources, and eases the burden on our landfills.” The Freecycle network is located online at www.freecycle.org where more information, including how to register for and use the service, is available.

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Discussion Comments
By egs — On Apr 02, 2011

I've always been bothered by the "reduce the amount of waste going into landfills across the globe" mandate of Freecycle. After 7-plus years and thousands of transactions, I can quite confidently say that most freecycled stuff (at least here in Ottawa Canada) was never ever intended for the landfill. It is just surplus stuff, stashed away indefinitely -- out of sight, out of mind.

The freecycling movement has helped people everywhere to make their surplus stuff available to others willing and eager to reuse secondhand stuff.

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