Freecycle - helps give stuff away for free

A good idea before a bad economy has turned into an even better idea during a horrendous economy. Freecycling. While many people use Ebay to sell items for money to anyone and other people use Craig’s List to sell (and sometimes trade or give) items somewhat locally, there is another option, Started in 2003, the non-profit organization is basically a simple way to offer items you no longer want to people who might want them, the only catch: everything is free.

Initially Freecycle was conceived as a way for people to offer items to non-profits, and non-profits to respond if they wanted them. It quickly expanded to include anyone, anywhere and now there are 85 countries and near 5000 local group made up of 7,000,000 people all following the same set of principles. Let’s fill up fewer landfills with items that other people might care to rescue.

It is recycling with a few well thought out rules. One of the biggest is letting people join any group, but keeping in mind each group is based on a small geographic area such as a town, or county.  As such groups vary in size.  The other important rule is what you can’t offer including no listing illegal items, tobacco items, alcohol, firearms, people, pornography, or medicine of any kind. Each local freecycle group is run by volunteer moderators who enforce the rules and the very specific way to offer, inquire and list items.

Most groups use a simple email list tool called Yahoo Groups to share their items and indicate items they are looking for or items that have been taken.  Techlife has been a user of YahooGroups since 1998, as a long time user who was introduced to this great service by Alan Braverman, employee #1 at YahooGroups (formerly eGroups) we asked him what he thought of Freecycle.

“Freecycle has a great mission.  It is gratifying to know something we all worked so hard on more than 10 years ago at eGroups is not just being used but growing, growing a great organization and supporting such a beneficial cause as saving the environment and helping people recycle.  Grassroots movements have always been great at adapting new technology, but with close to 5000 groups and 7,000,000 members it is clear that is successfully spreading a positive message worldwide.”

How to Freecycle?

Easy! First make sure you have a Yahoo ID with an email associated to it, this lets you access any of the nearly 4800 local freecycle groups which use the Yahoo Groups email list system.  Once you have a Yahoo ID, visit, and sign up for an account with the other 7,000,000+ members all over the globe, of course sticking to your little area of it.  (Krakow, Poland has 231 members for example!)

To join a local group, search for your hometown and you will likely get at least one town nearby if not a few hundred.  Sign up on and make sure you use the same email as associated with your Yahoo ID (little known fact, you don’t need to use your Yahoo email as your main email).  Then select one or more groups, each which might have a slightly different set of rules but all following the same overarching principal.

Click “Join this Group” and away you go.  I joined quite a few groups in my area, each with a different feel.  One let me join right away, another had a lot of “we are looking for quality and people who give not just take” and yet a third let me browse the current listings before even joining.

Start listing your items and you will soon have a few people who want them.  Arrange a pickup and you are done.

Palm Tungsten T for free from Freecycle - and saved it from a landfill

Is this for real?

While your experience may vary, I was looking over items here at Techlife HQ and considering what we should recycle with the locals when emails started coming in for various items; some candles, a dsl modem and a working Palm Tungsten T.  I have a friend who still (tries) using their Palm but was complaining how it was getting pretty old and not always working.

I replied to the original poster indicating when I could get the device, drove over, picked it up and in just a few hours I had completed my first freecycle.  I plan on giving my friend this one for a backup device.  Plus it was saved from a landfill. (Thanks Marija!)  Your mileage may vary, but if all you want is a clean basement, here’s a great easy way to make that happen and keep the Earth a bit cleaner. is a Techlife must try.  It is easy.

Thanks to loyal reader Brad for sharing his experience and introducing us to Freecycle.  Please email or comment ideas for sites you find amazing.  It’s our own little way to recycle.