Do you Freecycle?
Most of the stuff I find for free is through Freecycle Minneapolis, an email list that people in the area use to recycle stuff they don’t want/need anymore. Sometimes, the stuff people offer is kind of random… but a lot of the time, it’s useful things like couches, leftover building materials and kitchen appliances.
If you want to check it out for yourself, here are some tips:
1. Find your local Freecycle list by searching on www.freecycle.org. Most major cities and towns have their own list.
2. To sign up, you’ll need a Yahoo login. It’s worth it, so don’t let this part slow you down. Even though you will use a Yahoo address to sign up, you can choose a different address to receive the updates (like Gmail or your personal domain).
3. In my experience, you are most likely to get the stuff you want if you receive the postings as they are distributed. But this can wreak havoc on your inbox, so you’ll need to decide what is best for your own needs. If you opt for the daily digest, you’ll only get one email – but you might also miss a great find, since items usually go to the first person who responds. I have a Gmail rule for incoming Freecycle emails so that they skip the inbox and go straight to their own folder, which I then check throughout the day. This way, the updates don’t overwhelm my inbox (which they would, since our list usually sees 20-30 updates per day, and more on the weekends). Here’s a how-to article you might find useful.
4. If you find something you really want, I’ve found it’s best to include your phone number and an estimate of when you could pick up the item in your original email to the offerer. Also, even if you’re not the first person to respond, request to stay on the waiting list. Lots of times, people are no-shows for picking up items.
5. If you want to give away stuff on Freecycle, don’t be shy! I used to think it would be a hassle, or that nobody would want the stuff I was giving away, neither of which are true. Every time I post an offer, I’m surprised by how many people respond. (I think the record was 25 responses for a roll of raffle tickets, of all things.) I find it’s easiest to put each item or grouping of items in labeled grocery bags, and set them on the front porch as soon as I post the items to the email list. That way, even if I’m not home when someone responds, they can stop by and pick up their bag whenever is most convenient.
A note about safety: please, please do not go alone to pick up items, and only give out your address to people who have confirmed that they will pick up an item you’re offering. I know personally the danger of going alone to a stranger’s home.
Other recycling options:
- Gazelle.com is great for recycling old electronics like cell phones, laptops, iPods and even DVDs and video games. They’ll pay you for things in working order, and safely recycle the rest. Shipping is covered by Gazelle, and if you choose to take your payment in an Amazon.com gift card instead of cash, you get an extra 5%. Best part? They wipe your personal data for you (although, I would highly recommend doing all you can to remove personal data before sending your electronics anywhere). You can see my latest shipment below.
- Craigslist has a section for free stuff, but I’ve never used it.
- If you’re in the Twin Cities, check out Twin Cities Free Market – it’s been recommended by friends, although I’ve never used it.
- If you have other ideas, please send them my way or post in the comments!
Here’s a running list of everything I’ve gotten for the house without shelling out a single dime:
Electric drill and assorted tools
Martha Stewart Living magazine collection (now reduced to clippings in binders)
Moving boxes and packing materials
Wicker chairs for the porch