The Freecycle Network, or simply Freecycle for short, exists as an environmental group that offers local benefits. Their mission statement is as follows, “Our mission is to build a worldwide gifting movement that reduces waste, saves precious resources & eases the burden on our landfills while enabling our members to benefit from the strength of a larger community.” As a Freecycler, I can personally attest that their mission has been completed, though it is far from over.

I began Freecycling after viewing a clip about the program on my local news program. I turned to the Internet for more information and discovered that you become a member by joining your local Freecycle chapter through designated Yahoo groups. Not only do I feel that this was an ingenious way to bring local communities together, but there are also many “additional” Freecycle Yahoo groups. These groups don’t just announce items available, but also offer simple friendship, general chat, and are a great way to meet like-minded people in your community.

Your first step in becoming a Freecycler is to visit the official site and find your local chapter. Once you have narrowed it down, apply to the Yahoo group. If you don’t have a Yahoo id, sign up for a free account, though others may find it more suitable to sign up for an email account that is dedicated solely to Freecycling. The Freecycle lists tend to generate plenty of Emails; so choosing another email address is beneficial. Once you have your Email address established, join the Freecycle Yahoo group closest to you, and wait for approval.

The Freecycle Yahoo groups have rules regarding how you may post an item to give away, reply to items, and even thank users for their generosity. You must realize that everything given away on Freecycle is 100% free. Just as you must give away all of your items for free, you are not allowed to gather free items for sale. This is a violation of The Freecycle Network’s terms of use. If you have any questions, it is imperative that you read the Member’s FAQ on the official Freecycle site, as well as read the terms of use and service for the Yahoo group.

Since you are meeting people over the Internet and then going to their homes to pick up items, it is absolutely vital to practice good safety measures. You may want to choose an item from someone who has built their reputation with the group before agreeing to go to their home. However, don’t be surprised if you find that some of the people on your local Freecycle list are people that you know. When I joined, I came across several women that I had gone to church with. Yet, since you are using the Internet, it pays to be careful, so always keep up your guard. It’s also proper Freecycle etiquette to give before you receive. This means that your first involvement with your local Freecycle group should be one where you give an item away, not request one. After you give away one item, you can begin putting in your request for items being offered.

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This content was written by Charisse Van Horn. If you wish to use this content in any manner, you need written permission. Contact Robin Henderson for details.