Why not Freecycle?
You are in: surefish > ethical living > Freecycle
Date: 19 May, 2009


'Now, wouldn’t it be perfect if there were a way that other people could reuse your unwanted stuff, and you could reuse other people’s?'

If you have old stuff that can't be sold on eBay, there may be someone near to where you live who wants it. Suzanne Elvidge explains

The best kind of recycling in the waste hierarchy is reusing.

Now, wouldn’t it be perfect if there were a way that other people could reuse your unwanted stuff, and you could reuse other people’s? And wouldn’t it be even better if it were free?

Well, there is! Known as gift economics or free recycling, giving stuff away is the basis of the Freecycle Network.

I’m typing this article leaning on a computer desk I got through Freecycle, listening to music through speakers that also came from Freecycle.

The cat is using cat litter (it was unused, honest) from Freecycle, and is just about to go to sleep on a rug from Freecycle.


It’s easy. Go to the Freecycle website and see if you have a local group. There should be one nearby – the first UK group (London) started in October 2003, and by May 2009 there were 494 groups spread across the country, from Aberdeen to York (including Ambridge), with around 1,722,575 members.

You can post ‘offers’ for items you want to give away or ‘wants’ for things you need, or respond to the posts you see. It’s up to the giver to decide who gets the item – it could go to the first, the closest, or the best answer.

You can Freecycle anything, just as long as it’s free and legal, and items on Freecycle go from the sublime (a Jacuzzi), via the aromatic (horse muck for the allotment) to the seemingly ridiculous (a few plant pots, some cardboard boxes, an old and threadbare carpet).

However, each of these things has a use, was unwanted by the giver and much appreciated by the receiver, and would probably otherwise have gone in the bin.

As an estimate, people in the UK Freecycle network give away around 628,740 items a month, saving 5,260 tonnes of waste entering landfills. This adds up to an estimated 7,544,880 items over a year, saving a huge 63,120 tonnes of waste.


People use Freecycle for all sorts of reasons, and some great stories come out of it. I received an email by someone who was gifted an elderly car on Freecycle.

It cost her £200 to make it roadworthy, but in the following year, it never let her down. The Jacuzzi I mentioned before, a brand new Italian one complete with fittings, never installed, went to a special residential school that works with physically handicapped children.

The first Freecycle exchange took place in Tucson Arizona, in May 2003. Five years later the network topped 5 million members, and it’s now available via mobile phones.

There are other sites with a similar ethos – Give or Take, eFreeko, chanceXchange, Don’t Dump That and WorldwideFreeShare.

The Freecycle philosophy is simple – if you have something that you think might be useful to somebody else then why not give it away instead of sending it to landfill.

And the Freecycle motto is even simpler – changing the world one gift at a time. Why not give it a go and sign up now.

Suzanne Elvidge is a freelance writer and Surefish Ethical Living Editor

Further reading

Ethical bedroom

• Read other ethical lifestyle articles


© Christian Aid
Surefish.co.uk - the Christian community website from Christian Aid

Christian Aid is a member of the