Freecycle: The American art of giving

My very good friend Jessica (a.k.a. "the yoga master") started a neat blog entitled Responsible Frugality. The concept of this blog is to document Jessica’s attempts at living a frugal yet sustainable and responsible lifestyle. She uses a bike as her only form of transportation and buys products from local farms. She also makes her own meals and lives green.

When she first told me about her blog, the first thought that came to my mind was Freecycle. "Do you use Freecycle?" I asked her. "I should," she answered

The Freecycle slogan is simple: "Changing the world one gift at a time." It is a concept that revolves around what I like to call the ‘American art of giving.’ Freecycle is a place where people simply give stuff away for free. Most of them are trying to "de-clutter" their lives by putting stuff they accumulated over the years to good use.

When I first heard the idea, I thought "Really, who wants to give stuff away for free?" Well, it turns out that the are many of those givers out there. All you have to do is go to the site, find a local group where you live, and then join their listserve and enjoy.

So far we’ve accumulated a very nice ping-pong table, a wheelbarrow, and a nearly new bike pump — and yes, all for free. This is how it works: You see the item listed, then you send the owner an email to see if they will give you the green light to go pick it up. Many owners leave their giveaways in their front or backyards so you just stop by and grab it; no muss, no fuss, easy and simple.

I’m not really sure if this idea exists in other parts of the world, but it somehow struck me as very American. Giving to charity and donating is something that is very deep-rooted here. Charity work and giving donations are things that many of my friends here are involved in — whether donating to political campaigns, religious institutions or animal shelters. When I hear about this art of giving I get this warm feeling, a feeling that reassures me that there is still hope in this nasty, nasty world we are living in.

Now, enough of the chatter, go check out Freecyle.

13 Comments

  1. BJ August 14, 2008 at 4:15 pm

    Check out Book Mooch.
    Same idea but with books!!!
    BJ

    Reply
  2. Sami August 15, 2008 at 3:52 am

    Yes, we see the American art of giving in Iraq and Palestine and many other places before. there is something grotesquely hypocritical about a nation that thrives on sucking other nations’ blood then throwing a small bone to a needy person for a cheap feel-good experience. Did you know the Americans spent over 80 billion dollars (YES, billion) on security contractors in Iraq? then they give an old cassette player to someone poor and we celebrate American generosity.

    and by the way, hand me downs are not an American tradition. it exists everywhere. Americans like to trademark the obvious. freecycling is hand-me-downs. just call your local islamic charity or church and they will arrange for a pickup.

    Reply
  3. A female Marine August 15, 2008 at 7:00 am

    I thought Freecycle was cool when I heard about it. Yes, it’s hand-me-downs, but instead of having to rely only on people you know, you can browse through an entire city or region’s worth of stuff! Maybe none of your friends want your old ferret cage but somebody on the other side of town might…

    Reply
  4. sarah August 15, 2008 at 11:25 am

    Okay, there is no need to be nasty about FreeCycle–this is happening at a very different level than American foreign policy, as should be quite obvious.

    But I did find FreeCycle NYC to be a very disappointing experience. People frequently used the mailing list to request free objects, and the stuff people were giving away for free (old chair, mattress, tea bags) were completely out of line with what people were asking to be given for free (computer, ipod).

    I don’t think all of the users quite understood the spirit of frugality and non-consumerism that was supposed to be the heart of the listserv.

    Reply
  5. dm August 16, 2008 at 7:32 am

    Yes, we see the American art of giving in Iraq and Palestine and many other places before. there is something grotesquely hypocritical about a nation that thrives on sucking other nations’ blood then throwing a small bone to a needy person for a cheap feel-good experience. Did you know the Americans spent over 80 billion dollars (YES, billion) on security contractors in Iraq? then they give an old cassette player to someone poor and we celebrate American generosity.

    and by the way, hand me downs are not an American tradition. it exists everywhere. Americans like to trademark the obvious. freecycling is hand-me-downs. just call your local islamic charity or church and they will arrange for a pickup.
    I just KNEW before even reading the comments that some jackass was going to twist this nice post into something political and completely unrelated. Get a life man!

    Reply
  6. dmr August 16, 2008 at 9:28 am

    >>> going to twist this nice post into something political and completely unrelated

    you sick, callous, criminally insensitive $%^&765. Since it’s not your flesh being torched by US bombs and not your house being crushed to rubles and not your loved ones being mujrdered, you can afford the luxury to compartment. fk you you sick retard. fk everyone who thinks like you do. You want to carry a dagger in one hand and give away balloons in another and expect us to see the balloons only. fk whatever culture produces retards like you.

    Reply
  7. jabirr August 16, 2008 at 9:30 am

    Sami,
    I suugest you go and see a psychiatrist; I am not sure though this will be of much help.

    Reply
  8. mojtaba mahdavi August 16, 2008 at 7:23 pm

    hi im a artist rrom iran and a poimer

    Reply
  9. jinyerkabak August 17, 2008 at 2:19 am

    jabirr, refer to last comment: fk whatever culture produces retards like you.

    Reply
  10. dm August 17, 2008 at 11:21 am

    Anyway, back to the actual subject of the post since we have been diverted, Natasha, that’s a cool website. Thanks for the info.

    Reply
  11. jabirr August 21, 2008 at 9:45 am

    “jabirr, refer to last comment: fk whatever culture produces retards like you.”

    Jinnyirkabak,

    My culture simply tells me to guide those who are in need to go and see a sepcialist, like a psychiatrist. I did not talk to you in the first place, unless u r using different nicknames. If feeling jealous, u too can go and see the psychiatric.

    Reply
  12. Arabi August 23, 2008 at 5:17 pm

    It is very strong in the American culture to give. However it is not unique to Americans. Last year, when Dubai ran the “Dubai Cares” program they were able to raise an amazing amount, not sure what the exct amount was but you can go and check their website if you are interested.

    Regards
    Arabi

    Reply
  13. Jana August 29, 2008 at 12:25 pm

    I absolutely ADORE freecycle!!!!!! It’s so much better, to me, to give things to a person who needs them than to give them to a “charity” that may or may not use the money for good. It also gives me motivation to get rid of things that I won’t use but don’t really want to part with…

    And you meet amazingly awesome people!

    Reply

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