I’ve been freecycling for about 11 years now. It’s been brilliant for me, getting rid of stuff I no longer need, knowing that someone is going to appreciate it and without worrying that it’ll go to landfill or incineration. Win, win. I’ve had to clear two family houses during that time, and it would have been deeply upsetting to throw away so much that was still usable but that I couldn’t sell. And now that I don’t have a car, Freegle and Freecycle are particularly useful: for example last week someone came and took away eight used fence panels, dismantling them to get them into their car!

Freegle and Freecycle are very similar but Freegle is a UK volunteer-run organisation whereas Freecycle is from the US though it’s a charity in the UK. Freegle has 280 groups across the UK, Freecycle similar. They are both free to join. The two have slightly different slants, with Freecycle Lewes having more furniture for example; I always post on both to get the widest audience. Each one has geographical areas you can sign up to but you can look for items in any area in the country if you want. If you see something you want, you have to be pretty quick nowadays because so many people are Freegling, but if you write a nice message back, sometimes people will say yes to you rather than to someone else.

When you’re offering, it’s good to post things with a photo, and to include dimensions etc to minimise queries about details. Don’t worry if you’ve nothing special – you’ll be amazed at what’s willingly taken. I’ve had takers for picture frames, electrical wire, spare bits of wood, bins, a router, guttering, an old sleeping bag, a basin, bubble wrap, a radiator, paints, toys, clothes, carpets, a camera, books, a commode, a mattress, bathroom accessories etc etc etc. And some of these things were not in the best of condition! One of the few things that didn’t get a taker was, surprisingly a good-condition boiler flue worth £70 new. And I’ve received bricks, soil, jam jars, paving slabs, a mobile phone, a sink, plants, underlay, just to name a few. There’s usually a healthy circulation of jam-jars (in season) and of cardboard boxes for removals. Some Freeglers/ Freecyclers use the related Trashnothing app.

The only frustrating thing is people who say they are interested (“I’ll have it”) and then don’t follow up, but you usually get a feeling for who is really keen and genuine. Commercial takers are cunning: early on I fell for a car-boot person, who had an engaging spiel about wanting for his grand-daughter an old doll’s house that I was offering; I realised when I met him he was lying but well, at least it might get a new home and someone’s made a little money out of it….

You can choose to receive all posts from Freegle/ Freecycle, or just visit the websites at intervals to see what’s on there. You might like to use a dedicated email address if you’re doing a lot of recycling, to save your main inbox from jamming up. When I’m offering something, I ask people to contact me on my mobile too in case I forget to check my alternative inbox.

In the end, if you start Freegling/ Freecycling, you’ll continue not only because of the good feeling of seeing items recycled, but also because of the happy grateful faces of people who come to pick up the good items that you no longer need. Enjoy!

Don’t Bin It!

Julia Waterlow with thanks to Jill Goulder for additional comments and editing.