Who says buying baby accessories, improving your DVD collection or sprucing up your house has to cost a lot? With websites like Freecyle and Freegle, you can get lots of things for free - and give away your unwanted items too
Why give it away?
Giveaway websites like Freecycle and Freegle are a 'recycling community' so it's all about give and take. You can get rid of something you no longer use but also pick up an item you really need. It's different to eBay as no money is exchanged in the spirit of recycling and freebies!
You can always donate to charity, but a lot of items which do well on these websites, such as electrical items or bulky goods, aren't always accepted by charity shops. Also, it's a chance to offer or pick up something specific that someone needs - charities also use the site so it may end up there anyway. You may also be able to get rid of larger items which would have cost you to have collected.
What's on offer?
Bulky furniture, from beds to desks, is what most people tend to give away. Office clear-outs are common, so it's easy to pick up stationery, printers and even old computers. Families who are moving or emigrating will often give away sofas, electrical items, baby cots and toys. Even large expensive items like pianos have been known to appear, perhaps in need of some TLC, but a bargain either way.
Electrical items are also popular, from kettles and fridges to old-style televisions. DVDs, videos and video games are a common sighting on most forums too. Garden equipment from lawn mowers to wheelbarrows and sports equipment such as unwanted treadmills or other fitness gadgets also get a good look-in. Bizarrely, faulty items receive responses too - there's always a 'fixer' who likes to mend things!
How it works
When you go to the Freecycle or Freegle websites, search for your local group and sign up. You can belong to several groups in the neighbourhoods around you. Rules for each local group can vary so read the guidelines on posting items and responding to requests.
In general, emails have the subject line of OFFERED, TAKEN, WANTED or RECEIVED and the location. This lets everyone quickly filter the emails. You can decide how often you want to be informed about the latest freebies - usually a daily round-up or every item as it's posted.
If you're giving away an item, there are no fixed rules about who you pick. Some people go by the ‘first come, first served' policy. However, in the spirit of these websites, they ask that people wait 24 hours so people who don't have internet access all day get a chance to benefit from the site.
If you get lots of offers, it's up to you - maybe choose a charity, someone who's donated lots of goods themselves, or the nicest email! So if you're after an item, be flexible and friendly too! If you've allocated an item to someone, you just send an email e.g. TAKEN: BATHROOM MIRROR, BROMLEY'.
Each Freecycle group is run by local volunteers so check what information you need to include in your posts to save their time.
Some people place ‘WANTED' ads too but be careful if you do this. After all, everyone would love a 42" flat-screen TV, or a new blender. But if you're looking for something specific that could be lying around in someone else's house e.g. old cardboard boxes for your move, or a broken appliance for your child's school project, it's fine.
Although it's not compulsory, etiquette says you should post an item when you first join a group. It doesn't have to be anything major like a TV or a sofa, but you've probably got something lying around - DVDs, books, card-making items you never used. Anything goes as long as it's free, legal and appropriate for any age.
Honesty is key so if you are advertising a faulty item, say so. It may still be wanted by someone who's a ‘fixer' but they need to know that in advance.
It's best to pick up items or have them collected outside the property. Don't ever feel the pressure to enter someone's house - but if you need to, take someone with you. By the same token, have someone with you at home if you're giving away the item or move it onto the driveway.
Where to next?
Find out more at Freecycle and Freegle
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