Yahoo freecycle rediscovered
Two weeks ago, I was reading through my blogroll and came across an article CleverDude wrote about how he got a Garmin GPS device for free on freecycle. I was a member of freecycle a long time back, but for some reason I can’t recall, decided to unsubscribe. I had forgotten all about Yahoo freecycle until I read CleverDude’s article, and decided I needed to give it a try again.
What is Yahoo Freecycle?
If you aren’t familiar with Freecycle, it’s a network made up of more than 4,500 groups around the world. The freecycle network is a non-profit and entirely grassroots effort of people who give and get things for free in their own towns or areas. Not only can you get some great stuff on Freecycle, it keeps items people no longer want or need from ending up in landfills and helps to save our environment.
The best part about the Yahoo freecycle network is that it’s completely free and open to anyone.
Signing up for freecycle
Signing up is simple. Visit the main Freecycle Network site, enter your city or town, and find a group nearby. Most of the groups I saw utilize Yahoo Groups, so you’ll need to head over the Yahoo freecycle group that the freecycle site shows you and join the yahoo freecycle group. If you don’t have a Yahoo account (which I didn’t), you’ll need to create one, then join. I created a special ID just for freecycle and configured the Yahoo mail for the account to forward the freecycle emails to my Gmail account.
How freecycle works
Using freecycle is really pretty simple. The Yahoo freecycle group I’m in has a standard format for all messages. Make sure you read the rules for your local group clearly and follow the standards that have been set. Doing so makes things easier for everyone. The group I’m in requires that each email subject start with:
- OFFER: thingamajig (Your General Location)
- TAKEN: thingamajig (Used in conjunction with Offer)
- WANTED: thingamajig, any condition. (Your General Location)
- RECEIVED: thingamajig (Used in response to Wanted)
Within a few minutes (depending of course on how active your group is) you’ll begin receiving emails from freecycle with subjects like [freecycle_[your location]] Wanted: Computer desk or [freecycle_[your location]] OFFER BED RAILS. If you see something you want, you reply directly to the originator of the message to ask any questions or express interest in the item.
I posted a wanted notification for either a Guitar or Mandolin. Unfortunately I never received a reply, but I’ll try again in a week or two. Trent over from The Simple Dollar was successful finding a keyboard using Freecycle, so I’m hopeful I can find a guitar or mandolin if I just keep posting every so often. Patience is the key to finding what you need.
Be prepared, if your group is active like ours is, you’ll receive quit a few emails. I debated using the Gmail filter to route the messages to a dedicated Gmail folder like I do with my MyPoints emails but chose not to. In order to get things on freecycle, you have to be fairly quick to reply. This is particularly true for high demand items like computers, TVs, and furniture.
The good stuff goes really fast. I left the emails in my main inbox. I also forwarded them to my blackberry so I can be aware of the available items right away and respond if I see something I want. If I am watching for a particular item, I set-up a GMail filter to flag the item for me and send it to my Blackberry with a priority notification so it does a special ring.
My Freecycle experience so far
My oldest son needed a desk chair for the computer desk in his room. I was going to post a want email for a chair later in the evening, but saw one come up that afternoon (thanks to my faithful Blackberry). I quickly responded and picked up the chair later that evening. I was surprised too, as it was very nice. It just needed to be cleaned a bit. So far the chair has worked great and it cost me a 2 mile trip to the person’s house to pick it up.
I haven’t seen anything else recently that I wanted, but I’m sure something will come along soon. My wife and I have also been been slowly going through he garage and offering things we don’t want . Thus far we’ve only given away two coffee tables, but we have lots more. The tables went to a young couple who was expecting a baby. That made me feel pretty good that I could help them out. Freecycle is a great system of giving and sharing.
This article is part of an ongoing series I have called Money Saving Monday, where each Monday I share a tip about how you can save money.
Do you freecycle? Are you a member of Yahoo freecycle? How has your experience been with it? What great things have you been able to get? Add a comment!