So, what is Freegle and why do I go on and on about it?
Freegle is an online forum for giving and receiving unwanted items that might otherwise find their way into landfill. I’ve lifted the following explanation directly from their website:
Don’t throw it away – give it away!
You might not need your old sofa or wheelbarrow any more – but there might be someone just round the corner who does. Or if there’s something you’d like, someone nearby might have one that they might just throw away if they don’t know what else to do with it.
Freegle groups make this happen online. Sign up, post an OFFER of something you want to get rid of, or a WANTED for something you need.
We are a national grassroots organisation of people throughout the United Kingdom who are giving and receiving free unwanted items in their immediate communities. Local charities, non-profit groups and communities are encouraged to join.
All groups within this organisation operate with a basic principle – all offers and requests must be freegle (free and legal). Some groups may have additional guidelines such as no offers or requests for animals, or that items must be suitable for all ages.
Our aim is to keep anything reusable out of our landfill sites. Meeting new people helps to develop local community networks and friendships in the process.
How it works
Freegle is a collection of local groups that allow you to give stuff away when you need to get rid of it but don’t want to throw it in the bin. Or save something from landfill by asking for it; perhaps someone has just what you need that they were about to throw away.
- You have a washing machine you don’t need and may need to take to the tip.
- You join your local Freegle group.
- You post an OFFER on the list, seen by everyone who looks on the site or receives messages in their inbox (members get to choose whether to receive all messages or just view online)
OFFER: washing machine (just off High St)
Old and noisy but working washing machine available.
- Interested members will reply to you privately.
- You choose who you would like to give it to.
- Between you, you arrange for them to come and pick up the washing machine.
- It gets collected.
- You’ve given away your machine with little effort, and you also got to meet someone new from your neighbourhood in the process.
- Someone local to you who needed your unwanted machine can now use it, fix it or use parts for spares.
- It didn’t go into landfill. Great for both you and our planet. Everyone wins!
Likewise, if you need an item you can request one on the list in the same way and if someone has what you’d like they will contact you off-list to offer it.
Just find your local group and get freegling! The group moderators will be happy to help you if you need any advice about any part of the above process.
We, as a family, have been using Freegle for many years and have been the lucky recipients of numerous pieces of furniture, household items, toys and clothing over the years. Our acquisitions include:
bookcases and a sideboard; 2 single mattresses; children’s bikes and toys; duvets and blankets; bedding and pillows; microwave; PC and printer; school uniform; chess set; two portable televisions; mobile ‘phone; bubblewrap and padded envelopes; two greenhouses; curtains; clothing and footwear; lavender; netballs; garden furniture……..
It’s amazing what people get rid of: I once saw a car being offered, albeit an old banger, but it was still a roadworthy car that the owner simply wanted to give away to a good home. Bear in mind though that you won’t normally see items of such significance being advertised, though it doesn’t stop people from occasionally requesting them. Who know’s, they might just get lucky.
Generally speaking, the quality of the items we’ve received has been excellent and we realise we’re extremely lucky to have benefited from other people’s generosity. On a handful of occasions an item that seemed ideal from the description proved to be unsuitable but we simply re-advertised it and gave it to another “Freegler”. We’ve also been known to use Freegle to upgrade: for example we needed a larger microwave so we posted a wanted message and on receipt of the one we currently have, offered our previous model which was simply too small for a family of six but perfect for its new owner.
Freegle is very much a two-way street and it would be unacceptable simply to take, take, take. By a rough calculation I judge that we have probably given away equal to what we have received, if not in value then in the sheer number of items. We could have sold things on ebay or taken them to a bootfair, but that takes time and effort, and the beauty of Freegle is that the person wanting the item will collect it from you.
The things we have managed to re-home include: plants; huge amounts of fabric and craft items; chest freezer; glassware and crockery; video and DVD players; various prams and pushchairs; duvets and bedding; microwave; PC and keyboard; slow cooker and pressure cooker; bathroom sink; DVDs and videos, toys and books, children’s bikes and garden toys; maternity wear; printer/scanner; school uniform; children’s clothing and footwear; adult’s clothing; sofa bed; ice skates; futon; garden chairs; two double beds and two single mattresses; bric-a-brac; cot bed; garden and allotment produce; two armchairs; wardrobes; storage boxes; reams of paper….. I’ve lost track of it all over the years.
A more important reason than simply saving ourselves the hassle of trying to sell the above items, was the desire to give something back in the way of a thank you for everything we have received, not necessarily directly to the people who gave us items in the past, but to the Freegle community in general.
The idea of community is central and I’m really pleased to have made some good friends through my local groups in Tonbridge and Tunbridge Wells. To help preserve the polite and helpful atmosphere that exists, there is an etiquette to be observed when using Freegle: polite requests and replies are a must. Unfortunately examples of bad manners can still be found which will prompt the moderator of the group to send out a gentle reminder to all members.
Most local Freegle groups have a Facebook page and Twitter account and are constantly developing ways of posting offers and requests in an effort to reach as wide an audience as possible and encourage more people to join, thus keeping as many items as possible out of landfill.
We have to move away from being a throw away society, or we will turn this planet into a giant rubbish tip. Take a look at the items you no longer want: if you can’t face the hassle of selling them or the effort of taking them to a charity shop or jumble sale, then give them away via Freegle or Freecycle. Even if something is out of date, broken or downright hideous, someone somewhere will probably have a use for it.