Finances & Money

Freecycle: Strike One…Try Again Another Day

Last year, I signed up for, just to give it a try. However, it wasn’t what I thought it would be and I never really participated…until today. If you haven’t tried Freecycle yet, here’s the lowdown from my perspective.

Basically, Freecycle is a controlled forum, with groups for your local area. When you post an offer or something you want, you create a message. You can set up to be notified for every message in your group, or just keep checking the “forum” for new messages. When you want to take advantage of an offer or you have something to fill a request, you reply back to the message. But since signing up, I hadn’t replied to any offers. In fact, I basically just cleared them out every few days. I think I didn’t use it because it seemed so complicated.

Today, I was clearing messages out of my Gmail folder and one caught my eye. It was for 50 16×16 inch paving blocks. These would be perfect for a driveway extension and walkway to our mudroom! I think there would even be enough to extend to the back of the house.

Since I wanted to pounce on the offer, I sent a message to the poster that I was interested and could pick them up this weekend. I had no idea whether I was doing it right, but it turned out that I did. But when I got home from work, I had an email waiting for me that he already had alot of responses and he would keep my contact info if the others didn’t pan out. Dang, I missed an opportunity.

So now I know that my fear was irrational. The system is very simple to use because you just message the person that you want it. I had thought you have to post a “TAKEN” message and some other steps. Instead, the person who posted the offer will post the taken message. I let an unknown number of free items (that we need, not just junk to bring into the home) pass me by because I was worried that I would do something wrong.

I’m a wiser Freecycle user and know how to take advantage of free offers for things we need in the future. Now you go try it!

About the author

Clever Dude


  • Hi there. If you want to achieve the same thing but would prefer an simpler interface with much more functionality, try something like I have traded a lot of stuff through these guys.

  • Cosette. It looks like with Scoodi you can set up an automatic alert which sends you an email when something you looking for is listed. It also supports RSS so you can get it in real time. I now have one set up for free stuff in my local area which acts in a similar way to a freecycle digest email.

    Content is still a bit thin on the ground though. There is a bit of stuff around Oxford, North London and Edinburgh. I guess it takes time to build these things up and for enough people to take an interest.

    Good Luck.

  • very anglo centric of me…..

    I’ve just had a lok in the US and I see that there is content (though very little) in New York and Houston.

    While I was at it I also checked out Australia. There is lots of content in Brisbane.

  • I’ve tried Freecycle but being a bit techno-phobic got a bit frustrated with it so, I tried the Scoodi site that I’ve been hearing a lot about in St Albans recently and I love it. It’s so easy and looks good. I did have to check the spam bin thingy but now I’m up and Scoodi-ing. It’s great that you can receive, give and sell stuff in your local area – all without being charged.

  • I like Scoodi and I like freecycle too. Freecycle has a big user base so items are taken pretty fast but there are too many pest emails for my liking. Someone last week wanted a free PS3 and this week an automatic car! Perhaps they got lucky but I could do without such want e-mails.

    The freecycle group structure is also inconvenient; each group has its own local rules, some have little Hitlers in control. My mother was moderated from using the Edinburgh group because she was deemed not to be living central enough – she lives on the edge of the city; yet the next nearest Freecycle group is miles away.

    Scoodi is a nice web 2.0 implementations with item tags and photographs for most listings. It is local without needing groups – it works by advertising only those listings that are within a user defined distance from your location. It is free. It allows you to select RSS alerts instead of email, so alerts are pretty instant but don’t fill your mail box with junk. You can also sell locally with Scoodi. I just sold some Hi-Fi speakers last week that I would never had given for free nor would I have been bothered to package up to send to a distant auction buyer.

    So I say give Scoodi a try. If there is a lack of content in your area then tell some friends and start a new giving community of your own.

Leave a Comment