Unwanted...but not ready for the skip

Freecycle feature
Freecycle feature
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IT seems like the ultimate in “The Good Life” thriftiness but, as we increasingly replace things because they are used or out of date rather than broken, could ‘give-away’ websites be the answer to getting rid of your old stuff with a clear conscience?

Described variously as ebay without the money or internet swap shops, Freecycle and other similar groups are the online places to go when you’ve got unwanted things cluttering up your home that are too good to chuck in a skip.

At the same time you also pick up a few Brownie points on the environmental front.

It’s a win-win situation all round. The giver gets rid of things with minimum hassle, the receiver gets something for nothing, again with very little inconvenience, and the wider community gains because still usable items are diverted from landfill.

Yes, there are charity shops on nearly every high street raising money for worthy causes but that involves you having to physically take your unwanted stuff to the shop and, besides, few take electrical goods.

Freecycle, a grassroots non-profit network, is the one that led the way, having started in the USA in 2003 before going global – it’s now reckoned to have close to 5000 groups and 8.5 million members.

As the name implies, it’s a free way to recycle.

In recent years, some UK users of the Freecycle network have set up a similar site, Freegle, using exactly the same system of group e-mails.

There are three Freecycle groups in Fife – East, Central and West – with more than 14,500 registered users between them.

You can dip in once or again and again, and many users are hooked after their first try.

For regular users it is an online community, a great network for tracking down obscure services or items or even just tapping into for information about your local area – for example, a recent request locally was from a mum looking for suggestions for free activities and days out she could do with her children.

“By posting requests on Freecycle I’ve managed to find someone to repair an old-fashioned set of scales and someone else who does etched glass,” said Lundin Links guesthouse owner and veteran Freecycler Evelyn Craig (see below).

“If you’ve just moved somewhere new, Freecycle is a great place when you’re starting from scratch and don’t know many people.”

Good manners and courtesy are expected of all users, whether you’re ‘offering’ or ‘wanting’, and no money changes hands.

Below, the Mail talks to two Freecycle fans: