I’m a huge fan of Freecycle. For those of you that don’t have it or know what it is, Freecycle is a list (mine is managed by Yahoo Groups) where you can post stuff for people in your community to take for free. You can also post something you want. It works like a mailing group (think old fan groups from the late 90s-early 2000s when message boards weren’t as popular).
I’ve given away and received things on Freecycle since I’ve lived in DC. Recently, I took two window fans off someone’s hands who had no use for them. It cost me a few dollars to ride the train to this person’s apartment, and has allowed my roommate and to avoid running the A/C as often. Plus, a regular window fan is somewhere between $20-30. Why buy one when you can get it for free from someone who wants to get rid of it?
My favorite Freecycle story involves a few refugees from Iraq. A woman posted on the list that she needed some kitchenware. I had a few things I wanted to get rid of, so I wrote to her and told her what I had. I also said I had a few other household item that I’d like to give away. She responded saying that she was actually collecting all sorts of things for a refugee family that had just come to the U.S. from Iraq. She came over and picked up my things and I thought that was that. Then, a few weeks later, I got an email from one of the refugees, thanking me for my kindness and telling me how much they needed the items and that it really helped them get settled in their new home. I was so happy that I could do good by just giving something away. Such a simple thing really highlighted for me why I participate in the community and why I love the simple, frugal lifestyle.
In short, Freecyle is fantastic and everyone should sign up!