We have here in Edinburgh a vibrant community of Freecyclers. Freecycle is a loose network of email groups, running on Yahoo (unfortunately), with the aim to reduce landfill. Basically people just announce when they want to get rid of something (furniture, pets, … kids…- just joking- ) and then anybody who wants to, can reply and try to persuade the person to give it to him or her.
Whilst it works sometimes really brilliantly, and I got a lot of stuff from it, particularly for the G8, it can be sometimes a bit frustrating. For the G8 we got computer(s), monitors, sofabeds, minidisk recorder, video recorders, dictionary, office chairs and desks and so much other stuff for free, it was really helpful. In Edinburgh, the group has 5789 members, and there about 50 messages coming through daily. Just yesterday I was given a compost bin for my allotment by one of the group members.
The biggest group seems to be in London with over 27 000 members. There are subgroups forming up, such like Hackney and Islington, but still, it doesn’t seem to reduce the numbers of the main group. New York has also over 20 000 members, and Melbourne around 10 000.
However, there are some minus points with this hugely popular group, too. Basically, you never really get what you really need at the time when you need it most. For example I was really, really keen on the offered Garden Equipment Tool Box, but unfortunately it went to someone else, who was quicker. Most of the articles are given away on a first come, first served basis.
So, if you are not subscribed and willing to wade through about 50 other, to you irrelevant emails, your chances of being the first person are slim. And you need to be at the computer right at the time when the email messages comes through and reply imediatedly.
Also the offered festival marquee was given not to us/me, but to another charity.
And you have a clear advantage, if you are good at DIY. As the alternative is often the rubbish heap, many items have loose ends or a damaged in some way. Otherwise, if they are of distinctive value, they are much more often advertisied in the weekly second hand paper.
The main problem of Freecycle though is, that there are many more people willing to take stuff than to offer. So, although it is said at the beginning that you should offer stuff equally than wanting and taking, the balance is a bit more tipped to the receiving end. The only thing I could really offer to people is rhubarb. At so much other stuff, which I give away first usually goes to neighbours and friends, especially as I live in a rather poor community anyways.
Freecycle seems to be really good for baby and children stuff, though. And not everywhere you get such a vibrant email give-away community, in my sister’s city, there are only about 300 members and about 2 messages a day.
Anyways, there are groups worldwide, and though all political things will be eliminated by the moderator, it is a good nice practical forum for everyday people to make a difference, so I would recommend to all activists to get involved and start freecycling, too, especially if skipping is your second hobby, both spare-time activities are very compatible.