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How to Use Freecycle for Your Recycling Needs

written by: Jennifer Claerr•edited by: Niki Fears•updated: 5/18/2011

Freecycle is a site where you can give away things that you need to recycle. You can also get stuff you need and want on Freecycle for free. This free, non-profit resource can help you to save money, clean up your home and protect the planet.

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    Reduce, Reuse and Recycle with Freecycle

    Freecycle is an online network devoted to encouraging recycling and reducing the amount of waste that goes into our landfills. Currently, there are over 6 million Freecycle members worldwide giving away and receiving free reusable and recyclable items. Membership in Freecycle is absolutely free. Contrary to popular opinion, Freecycle is not a place to barter or trade recycled goods with other Freecyclers. Instead, you must offer your unwanted items with no expectation of receiving anything in return. You can also request items that you want or respond to other people's offers of items that can be reused. Used properly, Freecycle is an excellent site to get rid of stuff you don't want and to get stuff that you need for free. If you're having difficulty finding or giving away certain items, Freecycle is definitely the place to go.

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    Getting Started with Freecycling

    There are several different ways to find a Freecycle group to join. The first is to go to the Freecycle.org website and browse groups by your country, state or province, county and city. You can also search on a city to find Freecycle groups near where you live. The Yahoo! Group link will be at the bottom of the local Freecycle group results page. Another way is to go to directly to Yahoo! Groups and search on "Freecycle" along with the name of your city and state or province. In some cases, you may need to include your country name, as well. Once you've found your local Freecycle Yahoo! Group, click "Join this Group!" to become a member. In your application, include information about where you live and why you would like to join that particular Freecycle group. You will need a Yahoo! Groups account to complete your membership application. Keep in mind that you will also probably have to live in the same area as the Freecycle group is in to become a member. If you don't live in the group's general area, you should be a frequent visitor. Once you've joined, look around your home for stuff that another Freecycle member could reuse. Also, make a list of free stuff you need or would like to receive.

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    Freecycle Etiquette

    There are four basic types of Freecycle posts; offer, taken, wanted and received. Most Freecycle groups want you to also put your location in the title of the post. For example, if you're getting rid of a couch in North Dallas, you might write, "Offer: Sofa with Fold-Out Bed, Dallas 75248." This helps the other Freecycler members to know what recyclable items you're offering and how far away the items are. After an item has been picked up, let other Freecyclers know that it's gone by posting "Taken: Sofa with Fold-Out Bed, Dallas 75248." If you're looking for a specific item, create a wanted post such as "Wanted: Girls' Toys, Arlington, 76010." When you get what you want from another Freecycle member, create a new post reading "Received: Girls' Toys, Arlington, 76010." This way other Freecyclers know to stop replying to your wanted post. Use the group's search function to find posts more quickly and easily. Email the original poster directly rather than responding to the entire group when you when you want to offer or take an item.

    Many Freecycle groups want you to put multiple offers and wanted reyclable or reusable items in a single email if you post them all in a single day. This can create logistical problems with people finding your items. So if you want to offer or request unrelated items, email them on separate days. Also, you're not allowed to offer or ask for any human being. Alcohol, tobacco, firearms, adult items and drugs are also not permitted. Freecycle groups don't allow discussion, advertising, proselytizing or offers of money. All groups expect Freecycle members to be polite to one another. Some groups allow you to offer and request pets; others don't. Always check your local group rules before creating offering or asking for recyclable items on Freecycle. Also, be sure to set your membership preferences to "Daily Digest," "Special Notices" or "Web Only" if you don't want to receive a flood of email every day.

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    Freecycle Safety

    As with other sites such as Craigslist, using Freecycle can be dangerous. As much as you might feel that you know your fellow Freecyclers, they are still strangers. Always take precautions when meeting other Freecyclers to exchange recyclable and reusable items. Never place your full address in a post to the entire Freecycle group. Instead, only give your address privately to the person who will bring or pick up your item. If possible, meet the other Freecycle member in a public place during broad daylight. If you choose to have the other Freecycler come to your home, be sure to have someone there with you when he or she arrives. You can also place your reyclable items at the curb for pick up.

    Freecycle is very beneficial to the planet and to people who are struggling financially. You can get rid of stuff that's cumbersome or that charitable organizations won't accept. You can find free stuff that you couldn't find anywhere else. For more information about this non-profit organization, check the Freecycle.org website.

    Sources and Resources:

    "Freecycle FAQ/Manual" http://www.freecycle.org/faq/