We’re all looking for ways to avoid having our excess waste end up in landfills — and that very notion was the impetus for The Freecycle Network, created by Deron Beal in 2003. If you haven’t yet heard of this online organization that is changing the way people recycle no-longer-wanted items without letting them get dumped into a landfill, read on.

Founder and Executive Director of The Freecycle Network, Beal explains the concept as “a globally local gifting and re-use organization. Some refer to us as a ‘cyber-curbside’ while other liken us to a ‘Craigslist for free stuff with a large dose of community thrown in.”

Freecycle Saturday
Image courtesy of Laura Bernhardt.

The Freecycle Network grew out of a recycling program in Tucson, Arizona, called RISE, Inc., where Beal served as enterprise manager. He explains, “In the process of doing valet recycling in downtown Tucson where there was no room for recycling containers, a warehouse full of items were donated which were not recyclable per se but still had plenty of re-use left in them… And the gifting/posting on Freecycle.org began.” Today, there are nearly 9 million members in more than 110 countries.

The Freecycle Network has grown to this size in a purely grassroots way — by word of mouth. Beal adds,

“Ultimately we’ve simply been able to make it easier to give items away than to throw them away – and more fun. Someone comes to your doorstep and thanks you effusively for an item you would have otherwise had to drive to the landfill and pay to discard. There’s always a nice light bulb moment when people realize they are being thanked for doing a bit less, helping the environment a bit more and making someone else happy. What a hoot!”

The Freecycle Network is run almost entirely by local volunteers who help keep things organized and ensure exchanges are being handled in a family-friendly, spam-free manner. Beal also credits these volunteers, as well as the members, for helping to take the organization to the next level. He says, “[They] are constantly providing new ideas and inspirations to build on and we continue to adapt Freecycle to accommodate them. Our wish list is voted on by all volunteer moderators and it’s gotten quite long so stay tuned to your local Freecycle group to see these advances magically appear!”

Membership is free and open to everyone. To get involved, simply go the site, search for a local group in your area and start posting or searching! Being part of a global effort to reduce landfill waste is not only a positive endeavor, but with the Freecycle Network you can also end up with some pretty cool stuff that you can really use — without paying a dime!

Feature image courtesy of Bill Selak

By Molly Smith

Molly Cerreta Smith has been writing as a passion for as long as she could hold a pen and professionally for more than 15 years. Molly has hundreds of local and nationally published articles under her belt on topics including health and fitness, pregnancy and motherhood, food and dining, businesspeople, pets, travel, green living and love. When she’s not putting pen to paper, she loves reading, baking, sweating it out on a hiking trail or in a Zumba class, and engaging in “game nights” with her husband and their two kids.