The Freedom of Freecycling

The Freedom of Freecycling

Our family loves buying and selling used things – but sometimes it makes more sense to give something away than to sell it. Sometimes you just want to make sure an item goes to the right home; other times there simply isn’t anywhere that will take it as a donation – but you KNOW that someone could use it. That’s where freecycling comes in; where you give, and get, stuff for free.

A recent case in point: My husband damages a few hockey sticks every year playing on his rec team. They are bulky to put in the garbage, and though they don’t work for ice hockey anymore – there is still a use for the stick. We wound up asking our neighbours if they wanted any for street hockey. They were excited and took the lot of them that had collected at the side of our house.

Asking friends or relatives that I think would be interested in something is definitely my first choice when it comes to freecycling. I find that when it comes to giving items away, it’s nice if you have an established relationship with them. Examples of items that I often give to friends are clothing that I know would fit or suit them (but doesn’t fit or suit me), and plenty of kids' stuff.

We have had so much stuff ‘Freecycled’ to us, or handed down, however you like to see it, that we are more than happy to return the favour. I’m always on the lookout for whoever has had a baby, or has children the right age for what I’m ready to pass along. Recently, I found a home for some baby towels and a beautiful mobile a friend had made me. I wanted to find a good home for the mobile, since it had been such a thoughtful gift, and a good friend who had just had a baby was thrilled to accept both things.

When I can’t find someone I know personally, I go for Facebook groups. It’s easier to tailor what you are giving away to the interests of the group, and to ensure things find a home quickly. For instance, I had some horse-riding pants didn’t fit anymore, so I posted in a group, and found a home for them that way.  I also belong to a mom’s group and have given away many things to good homes on there (items I wouldn’t be able to donate anywhere else).

There is also the choice to simply put it on the curb with a 'free' sign. We generally do this with items left after a garage sale. It can take some time before the right person comes by our street to pick it up, and it doesn’t work too well If things sit out for more than a day given the weather, so we don’t do it very often. However, each year our city holds a designated curbside swap day at the beginning of September (when all the new students are moving in). We didn’t take advantage of it this year – but I’m planning to next year!

My last resort for freecycling is websites like Kijiji’s free section or Since there is no previous relationship, there is minimal accountability on the part of the person picking it up. There can be a lot of time spent communicating with someone who doesn’t show up. You can also get bombarded with requests for the item. I still use the service, but like I said – it’s not my go-to option.

In terms of getting Freecycled stuff – I love Facebook. The most recent example of this is our pond fish tank. This year, the kids wanted them on our main floor as ‘pets’ instead of letting them hibernate in the basement in a plastic tub. I wasn’t really gung-ho about shelling out a bunch money for a fancy tank for my pond fish. So I posted in a freecycle group and got two offers right away for fish tanks that were gathering dust in basements! The fish are now happily swimming on our buffet in the dining room. Just don’t ask what we spent on the decorations for the fish to swim around… sigh.

What about you? Have you had good success finding what you needed for free? Or finding good homes for items you didn’t know what else to do with?