The Freecycle Network is a non-profit organization registered in the state of Arizona, USA, and separately registered as a UK charity, that organizes a worldwide network of "gifting" groups, aiming to divert reusable goods from landfills. It provides a worldwide online registry, and coordinates the creation of local groups and forums for individuals and non-profits to offer and receive free items for reuse or recycling, promoting gift economics as a motivating cultural outlook.
In a time when recycling is of paramount importance, The Freecycle Network offers a slightly alternative way to get rid of ones old and unwanted possessions. The idea is simple, find a Freecycle group in your area via the website, post details of your unwanted item/s and just wait for a response; think ebay but without any financial implications. Alternatively, one can simply browse the items available in their own area and once they've spotted something they like, they send a message to the member stating they would like it.
I had an old imac computer that was in need of new home. It was in full working order but just out of spec for my requirements. Within a couple of days of me posting, I must have had over 50 interested parties; I was astonished by the response. I carefully read through the list of potential new owners and finally selected a lady who was an artist wanting to dabble with the digital side of things. I arranged to meet her just near my house and was to delighted to see how genuinely happy she was with her new find.
It's totally up to you who you select to give your item/s away to but it obviously pays to use your common sense when deciding when and where to meet. I've read about cases where people have arranged to go and meet somewhere and had their house burgled while they were gone! I'm sure this is a rare event and it certainly wouldn't put me off using such a useful and important website.
Overall, I would say the website is easy enough to navigate around and doesn't throw up any obvious hurdles for the user. Before you are able to start browsing or adding items, one needs to locate a group in their area and become a member of it. They also have to abide by the sites terms and conditions. It's then just a simple case of scrolling through the lists of items either on 'Offer' or 'Wanted'. There is also the option to view 'All Items' combined.
For the record, The Freecycle Network is a nonprofit organisation so I do feel they can be let of the hook for having a website that in my opinion,is not the most attractive. Saying that though, I do feel their logo has an element of naive charm about it; it somehow feels right in the way it's embraced the ethos of recycling. And despite it's lack of aesthetic appeal, the site certainly isn't bombarded by loads of adverts and flash banners, which I personally see as an added bonus.
Freecycle stands up as an outstanding concept. Since it's conception in 2003, it now has literally thousands of local groups representing millions of members all over the world in over 85 countries including Grenada, Jamaica, Morocco, Kenya, Finland, Panama, Pakistan, UK, USA, Thailand, Poland (to name but a few). Their slogan 'changing the world one gift at a time', certainly seems fitting. They claim to be keeping over 500 tons of 'junk' a day out of landfills. I find this mind blowing especially at a time when landfill space is starting to run out.
When looking through the list of 'Wanted' items I have come across listings that I would say abuse the idea; requests for items like iphones and PS3's. Ok, if the member was lucky enough you never know but realistically it does seem slightly ludicrous.
The most interesting story I read recently was about a guy who had given away all his money to live a more humble life. He ended up getting a caravan from the site worth £500 simply because the owner couldn't be bothered to fix it up! It just goes to prove why the site is so great to so may people.
There is an old saying in the UK which I would say perfectly sums up Freecycle's ethos; 'One person's rubbish is another person's treasure'. You just never know!!!