The idea is to promote the three R's (Reduce, Reuse, and Recycle)
by making it easy for people to
give away their unwanted but reusable items to people who can use them.
It's called free sharing, free reuse or free recycling.
How it Works
There are thousands of locally run, grassroots free recycling mailing groups around the world. Once you join your local group or start a group, you can create 'Offer' posts for items you want to give away, or 'Wanted' posts for items you need (as long as you follow some basic rules).
For example, here is how offering an item works:
- You have a bike you don't need and you want to dispose of it.
- Instead of throwing it away, you join your local free recycling group.
- You create a new 'Offer' post that is sent to the group and seen by all of the group members.
OFFER: mountain bike (near Central Park)
I have an old blue mountain bike available. It could use some oil and the tires are a bit worn but it's a great starter bike.This is how a typical offer looks.
- Group members interested in your bike will contact you privately.
- You choose which person you would like to give the bike to.
- Between the two of you, you arrange a time and place for them to come and pick up the bike.
- Your bike is picked up.
- You let everyone on your local group know that the bike is no longer available by sending a 'Taken' post to the group.
- You've given away your bike with little effort to someone who can use it, met someone new from your community and kept something out of the landfill. Great for you and the planet!
Similarly, when you need an item you can create a new 'Wanted' post and if someone has what you need, they will contact you to offer it.
What You Can Find
You can give and get almost anything on your local free recycling group. Some of the most common posts are for items such as old electronics, building materials, clothes and books.
Even things you might not consider reusable like cloth scraps, scratched CDs and broken appliances sometimes find homes with artists looking for materials or tinkerers looking for an interesting project or spare parts. Items you offer aren't expected to be in perfect condition as long as you accurately describe their condition when you offer them.
So next time you're cleaning out the garage, moving to a new place or about to throw something away, don't forget that someone on your local free recycling group might be able to use your unwanted stuff.
When posting to your local free recycling group, you must follow these rules:
- Groups are only used for offering and requesting items.
- No selling, trading or spamming is allowed.
- No chatting (some groups have separate cafe groups for chatting)
- Be respectful and polite
- Nothing illegal should be posted (no drugs, weapons, etc.)
- All items posted should be appropriate for all ages.
Individual groups often have additional rules. You should check your local group's rules before posting to the group (especially for posts involving pets). Each group has one or more volunteer moderators who manage the group and enforce these rules.