5 Ways to Make Freecycle Not Suck

(An open letter to Freecycle.)

Dear Freecycle,

I love you — in theory. You’re such a great way for a community to share its resources, meet its members, and keep usable things out of the landfill. Your motto, “Changing the world, one gift at a time,” makes me go all mushy inside my secret hippie heart. The greenness, freedom from money, and community spirit are all things I would love to see more of in this culture.

But do you have any idea how much more aggravation you cause me than just driving a couple boxes of stuff down to Goodwill? Because of you, I’ve spent whole days waiting around at home for people to show up. Because of you, I’ve had to deal with people who are flaky, greedy, or just plain unpleasant. And they know where I live. Remember the time that lady strung me along for six hours to pick up a dollhouse? At 8pm, I’d had enough and told her I was giving it to the next person. Her response: a carefully crafted guilt trip about how long her daughter had been wanting a dollhouse and how disappointed she was. I guess I should be grateful she didn’t TP my house.

Screw that. I have enough passive aggressiveness in my life. I don’t need any more. The only reason I continue to offer things on Freecycle is that the pain of dealing with these people fades pretty quickly, so in another couple of months, I’m ready to do it all again. Eventually I may give up on it. I’m starting to think that maybe I just don’t like people enough to change the world one gift at a time.

Want to keep me around, Freecycle? I have a short list of things to do that would drastically cut down on the amount of suckiness involved in freecycling. 

  1.  Allow givers to leave takers feedback. Feedback allows givers to make smarter decisions about whom we want to give things to. Punctuality, reliability, politeness, and ability to find an address are all important. I also wouldn’t mind knowing a little about the taker’s recent actions on Freecycle — whether s/he has offered things before on Freecycle or is just a taker/requester. I’d still be willing to offer an item to a newbie, just not someone who has a bad track record.
  2. Allow takers to leave givers feedback. Accurate descriptions of the item, reliability, and politeness are all good things to know before you show up at someone’s door.
  3. Get rid of the ‘gifts must be given in person’ rule. Although there are definitely exceptions, a lot of takers are too flaky to stick to a reasonable pick up time . In defiance of the rules (and this is big for me, as a stickler), I’ve started putting things outside my door for pick up within a certain window. The takers seem to be fine with that, and nothing has ever gone astray.
  4. Keep an online inventory of still available items for at least a two week period. It would cut down on the email clutter and provide givers more opportunity to get rid of things. And if you’re looking for something specific, digging through a stack of archived emails isn’t too fun, either.
  5. Screen out the clearly greedy and unrealistic requests. Working laptops, iPhones, jewelry kilns? I really don’t think so. These emails clutter up the stream and frankly irritate me. Nice try, people.
I know you’d have to make some serious structural changes, Freecycle. You’d need an actual platform for users to login to, and maybe that would make it harder to keep it free. But it would definitely be better.
What are your experiences on Freecycle? Are there any other suggestions you’d add?
Photo by Ken Hawkins

65 responses to this post.

  1. Oh… what a fantastic and constructive post. I fear my own personal FreeCycle rants have not been quite so… um… generous.

    First of all, I can’t believe your chapter has a “gifts must be given in person” rule. Trust me, that alone would be enough to stop me from EVER FreeCycling again. Here, just about every transaction post is accompanied by the “easy porch pickup” tag line.

    But people are still assholes. I’ve also observed an inverse relationship between the speed with which someone responds to the post and their likelihood to actually show up. My new rule is that if someone pounces on it immediately, they’re not even in the running.

    Actually, I think you suggestions for a feedback system similar to eBay’s are absolutely FABULOUS. But I’m starting to think that FreeCycle is more of an idea than an organization, and developing and maintaining a system like that would take staff and money. But that might not be such a bad thing. I mean if people had to pay a small membership fee or something like that, and actually be at least somewhat accountable for their behavior, it might weed out a lot of the idiots who seem to consistently ruin such a wonderful idea.


    • Hi Cat,

      Man, I must have missed your rants about Freecycle. I’m sure they were worth reading! Freecycle is one of those things where the idea is so much better than the actual execution because (as you pointed out) a large percentage of people are in fact jerks. I also wonder sometimes if I’m contributing to someone else’s hoarding problem by offering free stuff that, in all honesty, no one genuinely needs.

      I don’t really want Freecycle to become a paid thing, but I do want people to be more responsible and decent, and am just not sure that’s going to happen with the current setup.


    • I was talking to the people who monitor my area’s freecycle and found out that some people have a program which automatically responds to each offer stating that they would love to have it. I never noticed it before but they do tend to be generic and don’t really talk about the specific item. Evidently they do this so that they are first in line and when someone responds to them, they can pick and choose what they actually want … and either answer back or not. So, our host recommends that people not just take the first email that comes in but instead reads through several and gives it to the person who feels right. Seems there’s always a gimmick!


      • Good GAWD! Who knew “gaming the system” extended to FreeCycle?!? But it totally makes sense now. I could never figure out why these people would jump up and say they wanted the thing but then never respond to my emails. Shaking my head in disgust…


      • Yikes! What a crappy, selfish, inconsiderate thing to do. I try not to be a cynic, but sometimes it’s kind of difficult…


        • Posted by Kenny McLean on 05/22/2014 at 04:53

          Hmmm, I’ve been wondering why when respond to a new item people don;t even have the decency to reply.
          I only respond to items I’m genuinely interested in but seen to be blanked my 50% or more. maybe I need to slow down in my approach.
          Thanks for that. 😀


      • Posted by Il on 12/11/2020 at 21:01

        Thats right. I use to give it to the 1st person that ask. But on my freecycle certain people will ask for any and everything you post. Sometimes I forget to hit the promised or gifted. When i tell the person that its been promised or taken they get mad and have a attuide. First of all why would I have to lie. Im free to give my stuff to whom ever I think fit. I give away mostly new nice stuff and dont get a positive feedback


    • Posted by Eva on 04/08/2014 at 15:14

      Am I the only person who was just completely turned off by the way they run the freecycle posting system? Yahoo groups is capable of threaded posts, and I can’t believe they aren’t using that technology rather than having a separate post for OFFER, PENDING, and TAKEN. It makes figuring out what’s actually still available nearly impossible. Free forums are available for just about anyone, plus even though I dislike facebook, it provides groups for people. It would be so much easier if you could just see “2 wooden crates.” as a subject and do a quick scroll through a thread to see if it was taken.


  2. Here! Here! And wow do I second that emotion! This weekend, we cleaned things out and gave away a lot of stuff … not just any stuff but totally usable, in good condition and in some cases expensive stuff. Two people came immediately for their stuff and were grateful … but another strung us along for 24 hours only to call and offer more excuses. It’s amazing how many people are in the hospital when it comes to picking up a freecycle item. I won’t give up on it but I would love to see them incorporate your ideas. It would make the whole system so much more effective. Thanks for airing exactly what I’m feeling today! BTW … the last person who had all kinds of excuses missed out on a whole bag (15 lbs) of Science Diet cat food. I got up my non-sociable nerve and walked to a neighbors apartment who was more than happy to get the food. And what became of the freecycler with the excuses? She was shocked that we’d give it away and not wait until 10 pm tonight for her to show up … and yep … she laid on the guilt trip. 🙂


    • Hi SmallFootprints,

      That is so ridiculous. I guess it must not be a unique experience to have a taker turn out to be awful. Freecycle is one of those things that works only as well as its participants, and there are definitely enough bad apples to sour the people who use it responsibly. Good for you for not waiting around for the flake. She missed her chance!


    • “It’s amazing how many people are in the hospital when it comes to picking up a freecycle item.” OMG – You nearly made me spit my tea on the computer monitor. Can’t tell you how many times I’ve heard that one!


      • Posted by P on 01/10/2015 at 19:27

        That’s interesting, I’ve heard that one a few times too. But that’s not to say they aren’t genuine. Maybe people who look for stuff on Freecycle are short of cash, and that would include people with chronic illnesses. Maybe.


  3. I love this post! It was so true and funny! I am not a fan of random people cowing my address! I prefer t to just go to goodwill and drop off the things I don’t need anymore. Less headache, in my opinion 🙂


    • Hey Good Girl Gone Green,

      I think Freecycle might just be one of those things that works better as an idea than in real life. Some people arrange to meet in a public place, but with the amount of flakiness involved, I’d rather leave things outside my door. I’m actually feeling even more discouraged knowing that people game the system. What is wrong with them? 😦


  4. Posted by Andrea on 02/07/2012 at 12:48

    Hear, hear!

    I used Freecycle for about a year, then quit and never looked back. Now I split up my stuff into a donations pile and a swapping pile. Sure, it’s harder to find a match when the person taking something off your hands has to have something you want in return, but it works every time because both sides are equally invested, so in my experience I’ve never been stood up or kept waiting. And there’s been no guilt! 🙂


    • Hi Andrea,

      How do you find people to swap with? Do you just swap with your friends, or do you post things to swap on a forum or on Craigslist? I don’t mind just getting rid of stuff (go away! get out of my house!), but the behavior of many people on Freecycle is off putting. I do want to say that I’ve encountered some really lovely people as well, who are prompt, polite, and even write a thank you email after receiving the item…it’s just the bad people who stick out in my mind.


      • Posted by Andrea on 02/08/2012 at 06:50

        I use Swapsity, which has great features like a rating system (using points and/or descriptive feedback) for both parties as well as an internal e-mail service. Swappers decide how the trade will be made (some people meet in person, others ship their items, and porch pick-ups are okay, too). Surely there’s a similar website for the US?

        In the past I’ve also used Craigslist’s “free stuff” section, not to swap, just to get items out of the house.


  5. So sorry that you’ve such a bad experience. I have had my share of flaky people, someone’s friend died in a car accident and she couldn’t come pick up the item, another woman had to wait until the next week for “gas money”. Luckily, none of these really inconvenienced me. I ALWAYS leave the items out and never meet the person – I don’t really want to. I only use Freecycle for items in good condition that I can’t donate and have been pleased to pass on the items for someone else to use. Your ideas would be great! Maybe you could start another yahoo group for people to post comments on the FreeCycle users in your area?

    Now Craig’s List is another story!


    • Hi Kristina,

      I actually haven’t had truly horrific Freecycle experiences, although I do have a friend who was threatened quite graphically and stalked over email. Yikes! (Yet another suggestion: an ability to contact each other without revealing our email address.) I like the idea of being able to leave feedback for people, but I don’t think another YahooGroup would be the right place to do it — too many people, too many emails, no quick at-a-glance review of a user’s profile. It would call for a platform more like eBay’s user profiles or Amazon product reviews.

      I’ve had pretty better luck when responding to requests for stuff (as opposed to having people ask for an item I’ve listed). I guess they have a more specific need for something in order to ask for it.


  6. How about just posting your free stuff on the “FREE” section of Craigslist? No rules, just say what you got, wait for an email to come in from someone interested, and then leave it in your driveway or on your front porch for them to pick up. Boom, done.

    (I do this a lot and usually get responses within minutes by the way and have gotten rid of everything from bags of styrofoam peanuts to half-full cans of paint to scrap wood to an old garbage can that lost its lid. It’s pretty awesome. FreeCycle makes it too hard.)


  7. Hi Jennifer,

    I’ve actually been working to make existing freecycle groups suck less for the last couple of years. I’ve built a new interface that works with the existing groups at trashnothing.com. It completely eliminates the email clutter and keeps track of which items are still available (along with a lot of other improvements).

    Just last week, I launched a new feature where you can see the recent posting activity of other members so you can get a sense for their reputation. I’m hoping to add more comprehensive reputations with feedback in the near future.

    I’d love to hear your feedback if you get a chance to try it out.



    Andrew Trusty
    trash nothing! Founder


    • Hi Andrew,

      Wow! I wish I’d heard of this earlier. I just checked out Trash Nothing and it does look like it addresses all of my major gripes about Freecycle. Unfortunately, my Freecycle chapter isn’t on there yet, but there’s another group in the same city. I will give it a go next time I have a pile of things ready to give away.

      Thank you for all the work you’ve put into making Freecycle suck less. 🙂


    • Posted by Annoymus on 12/11/2020 at 21:11

      Yes I love giving to people on Trashnothing and Freecycle. I mostly post my freebies on Craiglist but after receiving a lot of emails and no showers. I decided to give Trashnothing a try again. It has been many years since I post on there. The reason I got off I had given just about everything in my house away lol. I’m very free hearted and love making ppl happy. That was my only issue back then. Now since I’m back on it be certain people asking for everything you post. Majority of my post are brand new items. They might do need everything but I like to share it with many people not give it to just one person and if you say no they get a nasty attuide or create fake profiles and ask for the same stuff again. I know its that person because of what they say and how the write. so yes its a some greedy ppl who never offer but wants everything you got. I had many no shows until they see I post a lot of nice things then they have the nerve to ask again. So i got my listing just sitting there for a person in need for real. For the needy not the greedy. Its a great site I love it. Just follow your gut feelings.


  8. Posted by Mary on 02/08/2012 at 08:59

    The moderators in my area are pretty strict and on the ball, but its a smaller area for them to cover than a lot of them and Im sure it would take a lot of manpower to keep up with all of it. It is free, after all.


    • Hi Mary,

      I realize that, and the mods in my group do a decent job considering they’re probably busy and don’t get paid for the work they do. I think what I really want is not for there to be more rules or moderation, but for more humans to behave like fundamentally decent and responsible beings. Hmm…


  9. Posted by Stephanie on 02/08/2012 at 13:23

    We post this fake letter on our group now and then to remind people that they can improve their own Freecycle experience. PS I’ve never heard of a group requiring gift giving in person. I would never be able to use Freecycle if that was a rule!

    Dear Fabby:

    I made my first four offers today on Freecycle(TM). Some of what I experienced after that:

    — Folks responding immediately to my OFFER just to be the FIRST, but clearly not thinking about whether they really wanted what I was offering – or even if it was possible for them to pick it up.
    — E-mails asking me questions that were already clearly answered in my OFFER posting.
    — More than one person e-mailed with no mention of which item they were interested in – in either the subject or the body of their message.
    — Another person actually asked me to ship the item to him…out-of-state.
    — At least one e-mail lecturing (actually, berating) me about how I “advertised” and “sold” my items. (Honestly, I did my best and I think my posts show effort. And this being Freecycle, I didn’t think I was advertising or selling anything.)
    — And LOTS of people for whom the words “please” or “thank you” don’t seem to be part of their language. I don’t expect someone to bow and scrape before me. But I didn’t really expect to be given lots of orders and demands in response to my OFFER, either.

    I started today feeling good that I was doing something positive. I ended the day in not the best of moods.

    Signed, Cheerless in Seattle

    Dear Cheerless:

    My, my, you try to do something good for the other people and for the planet, and look what happens. Not only are some people ungrateful, but they’re downright rude in the bargain. Wouldn’t it be nice if you could wave a magic wand and make all the thoughtless, impolite, greedy, and generally clueless people go away, and just give your stuff to the few who seem to remember that you’re offering a gift that they should show just a teensy bit of gratitude for?

    Well, you know what? You can.

    You have an extraordinary power – as does everyone else here, though they all seem to keep forgetting about it. And that power is this: when you make an OFFER, *you* get to choose who gets it. You and only you. You *don’t* have to pick the person who’s first to reply after your offer’s posted, or the one who’s the most insistent, or the one who only posts WANTEDs and never OFFERs anything themselves. You can wait and see all of what comes into your Inbox for as long as you want, and then *you* get to choose one of them to take your OFFER. And you don’t need to justify your decision to anyone but yourself.

    Fabby herself usually lets a day or so pass after her OFFER goes out to see who answers, and then picks the person who asked for the thing the most politely. Or sometimes it’s the one who had the best story about why they needed it, or who turns out to be located in the same neighborhood as she is, or who had OFFERed something recently! Very often this *isn’t* the first person who replies, which is a nice benefit; not everyone can be hovering at their computers 24×7, and Fabby thinks even people with dial-up Internet connections, who check their e-mail only once a day (gasp!) or participate via the sort-of-Daily Digest, should have an equal shot at getting stuff generously offered here. There’s no rule that people with the gigabit broadband cable feeds and RedBull-enhanced fingers should get first dibs on everything, you know.

    And so what can you do about the others who respond, especially the ones you encountered who seem to have gotten report cards saying “doesn’t play well with
    others”? Well, it gets even better. You can simply delete each and every email you get from them without replying. Bzzzt, thank you for playing, but no cookware set for this guest today, Johnny. The beauty of it is that once you post a TAKEN notice, you’re done – it serves as a blanket answer to *everyone*
    else who e-mailed you, so you don’t have to do anything more.

    Perhaps after a few dozen times of the same thing happening and being told “it’s taken” even though they know they responded 20 milliseconds after the posting hit their mailbox, some people *might* start to think a little bit…maybe there’s more to being part of this community than how fast they can click on the “send” button? That maybe whatever it was their mother told them – you know, about being polite and courteous to others and thankful for gifts they get – might actually be good to remember?

    No, you’re right, probably not. But it’s nice to imagine, isn’t it?

    Yours in reuse,
    FreeycleAbby (aka “Fabby”)

    (PS: By the way, you don’t have to respond to the *nice* people who email you but didn’t get your item, either – the TAKEN does the work for you there as well. Of course, you’re welcome to send them an e-mail with your regrets if you want to, or save their addresses just in case the first taker doesn’t make it. Again, you’re the OFFERer, so it’s all your choice.)

    [This letter was borrowed with permission from a Freecycle mod in Seattle, WA. Your local moderators would like to add that if you are chosen to receive an item, either in response to a WANTED message you received, or as the result of being chosen for an item being OFFERed by someone else, please consider sending them a short, polite THANK YOU email after you have picked the item up. No-one gives away items on Freecycle to obtain attention or glory, but it is nice to know that your generosity is appreciated, and a little politeness goes a long way. Maybe that member will offer another item you want and will remember how polite you were the first time around. On the other hand, if you weren’t polite, they’re likely to remember that, also. . . ]


    • Hi Stephanie,

      I agree with your point that there are things we can do to make our Freecycle experiences better, but only to a certain extent. My main objection to many of the recommendations is that they take time — a LOT of time. Time to read through lots of emails every day to get a feel for who offers stuff on Freecycle, time to go through a lot of emails requesting things that you’ve offered, time to choose the best possible recipient. Without any sort of rating system, it’s hard to make that choice. And even when I go from the best available information I have, I’ve managed to pick people who turned out to be flaky, needy, or rude and wasted a lot of my time. Putting all the responsibility for a good Freecycle experience on the giver seems a bit unfair when the infrastructure to make good decisions isn’t there. I think it’s what keeps a lot of people from doing (or staying with) Freecycle, and it seems quite fixable.


      • Posted by Stephanie on 02/08/2012 at 18:52

        It doesn’t take much time to search the Yahoo Group for a certain member and see if they’ve offered stuff. I don’t that through email, I just view the posts online at the group. I don’t get the group posts, I only get the responses to my offers or wanteds to my own email. It’s easier to just scan the messages at the website and pick and choose which ones to read.


        • Hi Stephanie,

          You may be right that it doesn’t take *that* much time or effort, but it’s still more than I’m willing to put into getting rid of things. The easier and more painless Freecycle is for me to use, the more I’ll use it. And vice versa.


  10. Posted by Stephanie on 02/08/2012 at 13:24

    PS the “online inventory” is easy enough to do on a Yahoo Group. You can easily search the group to see if an item has a taken message posted for it!!


  11. Love this! I never give anything in person. It goes out front and is picked up at a proposed time.


    • Hey Green Bean,

      I think I should have started breaking the rules much sooner! 🙂 I’m too much of an introvert to enjoy in-person pick-ups, especially if I’m already annoyed at having been kept waiting.


  12. I feel your pain! I’ve waited for so many people to show and they never do. Now I never wait. I make it clear where the item will be waiting for them and I make sure I’m not around. It usually works out well. I like all of your Freecycle suggestions.


    • Hi Lori,

      I think that’s the direction frequent freecyclers take. There’s nothing like waiting around for three hours on a Saturday afternoon when you have other stuff to get done. I’ve been finding that two things work for me: 1) leaving things by the door, and then putting them in the Goodwill pile if no one shows up, and 2) answering requests rather than offering stuff. People who ask for things seem much more reliable about coming to pick them up.


      • This is also my top suggestion and has worked flawlessly for me for hundreds of freecycles. I just leave the item in a moderately safe location in my yard so who ever I give it to can pick it up any time day or night without me having to hang around. If the first person doesn’t pick it up in the allotted time, then I move the item and notify the next in line.


  13. I’ve always been too much of a chicken to give out my address to anyone I don’t personally know. I donate to school and church sales, and local thrift shops trying to find the ones that are for a good cause. Sometimes I just leave items at the curb with a free sign on them in hopes that people who can really use the item will be the ones who happen by.


    • Hi Martha,

      That’s a reasonable concern. I’m not too alarmed because I live in a condo complex with people around me at all times. If I do manage to move somewhere more rural, as I would like to, I think I will become more cautious. I’m sure donating things to good causes helps your community just as much.


  14. Luckily since freecycling is free (thanks to FreecycleSunnyvale) there are many services which offer freecycle services. For details see http://freecycleforever.org There are also many tips there to make your freecycling experience more enjoyable and avoid many of the pitfalls documented in this blog. Enjoy!


    • Hi Tim,

      I appreciate the tips, but I’m going to have to insist that Freecycle should be easy to use *without* having to read a lot of tips or get up to speed. I should be able to post something, make a quick, good decision about whom to give it to, and get rid of the object with a minimum of fuss, drama, and annoyance. If freecycling takes considerably more effort than hauling stuff down to Goodwill, it’s just not going to happen for me. Call me lazy if you like, but I think there are a whole lot of people who would agree with me. And since a few relatively easy fixes would make it more of a self-regulating system that screens out the bad apples, why not apply them?


  15. I’ve never used Freecyle, but I haven’t had stuff to give away for years. There are plenty of people who need things where i live, so I probably don’t “need” freecycle.


  16. I guess you really got upset. Some one once told me that when you do something out of a good heart, be humble about it. You don’t need to let the whole world or the specific person know that you are helping them. That’s why in I agree with your third suggestion: Get rid of the ‘gifts must be given in person’ rule. I suggest that a drop off and pick up point area should be established by FreeCycle.


    • Hi Escon Enterprises,

      I’m not actually pissed off so much as frustrated by the way people on Freecycle take advantage of generosity by being flaky, greedy, or rude. Nor am I an altruist. I’m willing to do someone a good turn, but only if it doesn’t seriously inconvenience me, and being guilt-tripped, stood up, or harangued is simply not worth it. Since it doesn’t seem like it would take a whole lot of changes to weed out the really annoying people, I think proposing these changes is more effective than encouraging people trying to do a good thing to be more humble and accepting of other people’s poor behavior. Just my two cents.


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  18. Posted by Sandra on 09/16/2012 at 21:50

    Freecycle in a town near me (We don’t have a freecycle in OUR town, it is too small) is horrible. I have given stuff and people don’t show up. I say “Must pick up in three days” and the people don’t show up. I have to repost it up since I said “Taken” and it wasn’t really taken. I have gotten stuff and the items offered (a home phone system) does NOT work right, I can’t see who called me last and the batteries are not good at all. I can be on the phone for 20 minutes and it will go DEAD. That is not to be offered for free, that is JUNK. Lastly, I was given a Tv and someone was nice to drop it off here, but they didn’t put in on our porch. Instead, it was in front of the house, on the SiDEWALK and someone else picked it up. Oh and not to mention, when I post a wanted item, I can NEVER get anyone to offer anything to me since they always want the “First offer to pick up” and I can’t make it to Temecula at a moments notice since I only make $100 a month. these people are always giving the stuff to the FIRST PERSON that can make it down there. It’s not right.


  19. Ironically http://lynxup.com does all these things 🙂 but very new so needs people to be aware of it


  20. Posted by mike on 04/12/2013 at 03:17

    Thanks for your constructive suggestions. I’ve been using our local Freecycle for several years and it has just been one frustration after another, ranging from moderators who are closet control freaks, the usual range of people who “gotta have it at all costs” and then don’t show up or call and the occasional giver who thinks that Freecycle is just a great convenience for getting OTHER people to take THEIR stuff to the dump, as the item has far outlived its useful life, but the descriptions never say that.

    Two things I do…

    My MAIN purpose is to get this stuff out of my life with minimum hassle. Quick pickups
    are preferred… I don’t waste time trying to choose the perfect person

    I do porch pickups ONLY. The drama in peoples lives that prevents them from
    being on time is not allowed to enter MY life. Not my problem.. it’s on the porch
    come pick it up before midnight.

    My secondary reason is to give
    it back to people in the community who can benefit from it, rather than giving it to
    Goodwill to be sold for rags or trucked to a far away location, or put up on their auction site.

    If the asker is not someone I’ve dealt with before… I screen them. I keep a WHITELIST
    of people who are prompt and pick things up. I keep a BLACKLIST of no shows and
    don’t bother responding to them. And IF there is a request from someone I have
    never worked with, I search THEIR POSTINGS. If they give away a lot of stuff,
    I reciprocate. If they have just put up three items in four years… I move on to the
    next asker.

    Freecycle is a great concept as far as it goes being free and being run by volunteers,
    but it has serious problems in terms of a small percentage of the population which
    make freecycling a negative experience. And freecycle management just doesn’t seem to give a darn…. take it or leave it.


  21. […] It’s Not Easy To Be Green: 5 Ways to Make Freecycle Not Suck: noteasytobegreen.wordpress.com/2012/02/06/5-ways-to-make-… […]


  22. Posted by windyhoosier on 08/29/2013 at 18:35

    In the years I’ve been freecycling, the people using it have changed. Used to be all offers, now there are TONS of wants. I used to have delighted, “I’ll be right over” freecyclers. Not anymore. The pick up process has been painful every time this year.

    And I give them the closest intersection to my home, ask them to call my number when they are there and bring items to them. No one needs to know where I live.

    BTW, I’m currently waiting on a guy who promised to pick up at 8. It’s now 8:33…


  23. Posted by Daniel on 10/18/2013 at 05:26

    Hi guys, my name is Daniel and I totally feel that using yahoo groups on FreeCycle is a bit to complicated. Each morning I get a ton an email and have to search for stuff.

    A couple of days before I wanted to give away an old computer but the hassle was to big that I always postpone this. I want something faster, that groups discussions based on my items, that uses a platform, a mobile app (I am an Engineer and I like tech things:) ). I couldn’t find nothing out there… but I think it’s worth building.(I took it as a side project)

    This post gived my some suggestions on what and how to implement and I think talking to you will help me create a free platform that will make giving more appealing and hassle free. So please, don’t hesitate to contact me and let’s talk on how we can improve the situation.



    • Posted by Spyros Couppis on 12/22/2013 at 14:00

      Hi Daniel, How are you getting on with your platform? I’ve been thinking along the same lines, hence my survey request below. Please contact me via email in below post if you fancy talking some more about it.
      Thanks, Spyros


  24. Posted by jack on 01/09/2014 at 09:49

    Having been a Freecycler for about a year, I think the main gripe that I have is the double standard that most users have when offering items. As on user above brought up, helping others should be done so with humbleness. Unfortunately, so many use Freecycle as a source of recognition and self-smugness. If you need to get rid of something unwanted, a first-come basis is certainly a fair way to do so. I think I may go insane if i read another posting stating that “emails will be collected and on a certain date I (or my kids?????) will “pick a winner”….. WTF? O.K. so you were nice enough to offer an item. I understand that… good for you. You’re awesome, you’re great. you’re cool. Now get over yourself! There are people in need of items out there and their due dilligence of keeping an eye out on the listings for them should not be rewarded by someone “picking a winner” based on their opinion or how much they or their cat was amused by the requesting email. Remember, offering is only one half of Freecycle. I noticed a lot of folks in the above thread talking about their “convenience” or lack thereof when dealing with takers. If going through the motions of Freecycling bothers you so much, then take your stuff to Goodwill. However, if your aim is to help out, then stop whining.After all, takers are the ones coming to YOU and don’t need to plan their entire day around you and your broken toaster, while you sit on your throne trying to decide who you think “deserves” to receive your stuff.


    • Yes, but I bet you have at least the consideration to say thank you and to show up on time. But, if you emailed me with this attitude, I would never know.


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  26. […] It’s Not Easy To Be Green: 5 Ways to Make Freecycle Not Suck: noteasytobegreen.wordpress.com/2012/02/06/5-ways-to-make-… […]


  27. I just wasted two hours trying to make Freecycle work. There was no evident way to post pics; I was told just to post my offer first. So I posted, then searched and searched for a way to get my pic up. Most of the directions were simply inaccurate. So I deleted the original post and tried again. Even though the site listed no posts for me, when I tried to post again I got a warning that I was duplicating a previous post. It went on like that; by the time I gave up it would even let me log in. It tried to cancel my account but it wouldn’t let me do that either. Nor could I unsubscribe from my group, which means I’ll be getting tons of useless email for a site I can’t use. Bye, Freecycle. I’m outta here.


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  29. Posted by P on 01/14/2015 at 02:39

    Lots of people here mentioning taking stuff to goodwill after it hasn’t been picked up. If my stuff is suitable to be sold at goodwill then I take it straight there. I only offer on Freecycle if it isn’t suitable for goodwill, e.g.a bag of sand (too heavy), or electrical goods, which they won’t accept here no matter what the condition.

    For me the idea of Freecycle is to keep stuff out of landfill, not to promote community or feel good about giving stuff away. My order of priority is eBay, goodwill, Freecycle, landfill.

    I have lots of trouble with no shows and non responders too, but I’m assuming that many of the people looking for stuff for free have transport difficulties because of their lack of money, and internet access problems because they don’t own a computer or a smart phone and have to go to the library to respond.

    I’m sure some of them are scammers, but I try to have patience. This is what I expect to happen when one offers free stuff.


  30. Posted by Reggine on 06/20/2016 at 11:33

    I live out in the country and I am a pack rat. I collect stuff and I am very open to giving things away that I don’t have a good use for. I used to reply to a lot of wanted as’s and the amount of times I got even a terse thanks but no thinks polite reply has been almost zero. However, if I post back at the people after a couple of weeks, they are the first people to run to the moderator and have the asshole moderator give me shit. It is like they have time to go and run to mama but not time to say thanks. And they seem to think that is acceptable behaviour on their part. I just have to say, never ever will I reply to another “wanted” ad on freecycle again.

    The other thing that gets me is the people who post 20 back to back wanted items like this is fucking k mart. Wanted, large screen tv, wanted newish notebook computer, waned ipad or high end tablet, wanted, solid wood furniture. It goes on and on. And these SHPOS seem to feel entitled.

    It is a sad reflection of what this country has become.


  31. Posted by allen on 04/28/2019 at 07:12

    Wonderful to come across this post, and the replies to it – I infer from the references to ‘goodwill’ and the like that this is a US forum, which is interesting in that we have precisely the same experience here in the UK (now 2019). Also interesting in the very high level of grammatical accuracy and literacy displayed – I don’t think you’d get the same on a 2019 UK forum…
    So keep up the good fight, friends, and my sympathies for your current politics.
    Allen, London


  32. Posted by Sy on 12/11/2020 at 20:54

    Yes I love giving to people on Trashnothing and Freecycle. I mostly post my freebies on Craiglist but after receiving a lot of emails and no showers. I decided to give Trashnothing a try again. It has been many years since I post on there. The reason I got off I had given just about everything in my house away lol. I’m very free hearted and love making ppl happy. That was my only issue back then. Now since I’m back on it be certain people asking for everything you post. Majority of my post are brand new items. They might do need everything but I like to share it with many people not give it to just one person and if you say no they get a nasty attuide or create fake profiles and ask for the same stuff again. I know its that person because of what they say and how the write. so yes its a some greedy ppl who never offer but wants everything you got. I had many no shows until they see I post a lot of nice things then they have the nerve to ask again. So i got my listing just sitting there for a person in need for real. For the needy not the greedy


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