The blog formerly known as   Fake Plastic Fish

July 25, 2007

Free plastic (and other items) on Freecycle

freecycle_logoDo you all know about your local Freecycle™ group? Freecycle™ is a great way to save plastic, and other items, from the landfill. If you have an item that you no longer need, list it on Freecycle™. There is probably someone else out there who could use it. Need an item and don’t want to purchase a brand new one? Post a WANTED ad on Freecycle™. Maybe someone else has it for you.

Freecycle™ is actually a huge organization of groups that operate pretty independently in each city or area. Each group must follow some basic Freecycle™ rules, but then they can make their own rules regarding things like the number of Wanted postings allowed per month (some groups limit Wanted postings; others do not), whether or not pets can be exchanged, and the format of posts.

Here in the San Francisco Bay Area, I am a member of 4 different Freecycle™ groups:

San Francisco:
East Bay:

Items I’ve received for free include plants & pots for my roof garden, a copper bowl, a ceramic painted bowl, a citrus juicer, a worm bin (which I’ve never used. Getting ready to Freecycle this one again), a pair of crutches after a running mishap, 3 power strips (avoided buying some new plastic!), 1 cookie sheet, 2 oven mitts, and 10 soap molds (Yep. Gonna make some soap some day.)

While I’ve received some great free stuff, I tend to use Freecycle™ for giving away things that I no longer need. (Many things that I never needed in the first place but impulsively bought. That’s a different problem, and I’m working on it!) Here’s a partial list of a few items I’ve found homes for through Freecycle™: plastic grocery bags, plastic plant pots, a white board, an old cell phone and charger, books, CDs, unopened packages of food, running shoes, a wine rack, some vitamins, & some paper office supplies.

Some of the giveaways were things that I listed as Offers on Freecycle™. But others were the result of scanning the Wanted ads and realizing I had things that I’d never used but that someone else was actually looking for.

So, skeptics might ask why we don’t sell these items on eBay or Craigslist and make some money from them. And yeah, that’s a good idea too. I’ve certainly sold my fair share of items that way. But Freecycle™ is for things that you really have no time or energy to try to sell… things that would end up in a landfill otherwise. And it really feels good to give somebody something they need for free. Just ask my dad; he does it all the time!

Other skeptics might worry about making contact with people you don’t know. The beauty is that if you don’t want to meet people face to face, you don’t have to. You can arrange to leave an item on your porch and have the person come and get it at a time when you’re not home. Or you can choose to meet them. You can arrange it however you want through e-mail. The one big no-no is to place a first come/first serve ad saying you’ll leave the item for whoever gets there first. That just leads to chaos and is strictly forbidden in all Freecycle™ groups.

So yay for Freecycle™. Check it out and see if there is a group in your area:

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Rachel Neil
15 years ago

Hi, I really like your blog. Anything that will make people more conscious of their constant pulluting ways is a good thing, so keep up the good work.
I’m an avid recycler, I have tons of different garbage bins in my house for the different recycling items such as plastic, paper, tins, glass and more. I have my immediate family trained as well and I’ll flip out if I see anyone throw away what can be recycled!
I’ve also created a blog with a few ideas on reusing items, check it out here:


Stretch Mark Mama
16 years ago

I am just getting into Freecycle – what a great concept! I like that it builds community; makes me feel like I could just go next door and borrow a cup of sugar, like in the olden days.

16 years ago

Funny, just got the newest Thoughtful Consumer blog and she spoke about Freecycle too. I love Freecycle and have belonged to two groups now. One was moderated well and the current one doesn’t seem to have a moderator at all. The principle behind Freecycle is to keep stuff out of landfills, not as a charity for others. I too have given stuff to WANTED posts and even posted a couple myself. However, the current group I belong to is 90% WANTED and has turned a number of my friends off. I urge all users to keep this in mind. Freecycle is not a online charity service! It is a community building, recycling, landfill reducing wonder!

16 years ago

that’s interesting. i’ll have to check it out. also…making soap is fun. i once made a batch of homemade soap for christmas baskets i was doing. it’s amazingly very simple to do. tell me when you make them and how they turn out!-marika