Stop shop­ping and set your­selves free

The Jewish Chronicle - - Business -

THOU­SANDS OF peo­ple are giv­ing away pricey items to folks they don’t know through give­away web­sites such as Freecy­cle. org.

Whether it’s bed­side cab­i­nets, books or con­cert tick­ets, give­away com­mu­nity web­sites of­fer first-class, sec­ond-hand goods for free. Ev­ery hour, peo­ple post hun­dreds of free­bies on th­ese sites. All you do is email a re­quest, then pop round to pick it up.

WHAT IS FREECY­CLE?

Freecy­cle isn’t a web­site in its own right. It is run via Ya­hoo group emails, which is highly lo­calised. This means you be­come a part of your area’s own Freecy­cle club. Each com­mu­nity is run by lo­cally-based vol­un­teers.

The spirit of Freecy­cle is that it is a re­cy­cling com­mu­nity, so you should give, as well as re­ceive. Freecy­cle was set up in the USA, and some lo­cal UK groups have be­come un­happy with the US founders’ poli­cies. In Septem­ber ’09, a ri­val UK-based site, ilove­free­gle.org, was set up by some of the folks who moderate lo­cal groups on this side of the pond. Many lo­cal UK Freecy­cle groups have moved to this new site. The two groups work via group emails in ex­actly the same way.

WHAT YOU CAN GET

If you are af­ter any of the fol­low­ing, you are sure to find it with a bit of pa­tience:

Fur­ni­ture. So­fas, fu­tons, beds, book shelves, com­puter desks, lamps, lighting, cur­tains and rugs.

Elec­tri­cals. White goods, CRT tellys, fridges, freez­ers, ket­tles, ovens, blen­ders, cof­fee ma­chines and old PCs.

Baby stuff. Baby cast-offs are in­cred­i­bly pop­u­lar; if you are ex­pect­ing, Freecy­cle is a trea­sure trove of bug­gies, clothes, cots and baby mon­i­tors.

Of­fice equip­ment. PCs, mon­i­tors and com­puter chairs .

En­ter­tain­ment. Books, DVDs, games con­soles, videos and old mag­a­zines.

Bro­ken stuff. If you have a knack for fix­ing things, there are bro­ken cam­eras, wash­ing ma­chines, com­put­ers and more.

Sports equip­ment. There are many bi­cy­cles, tread­mills … even a ski ma­chine.

BE­FORE JOIN­ING FREECY­CLE

The first step is to sign up to your lo­cal group at Freecy­cle.org. If you are on the bor­ders of two or more groups, join all of them to boost your chances of bag­ging a gem. It is worth join­ing both Freecy­cle & Free­gle.

WHEN YOU JOIN UP

When you join, it will ask you how you would like to be no­ti­fied about new free­bies. You have two op­tions: re­ceiv­ing a daily high­lights email and brows­ing the rest on­line, or re­ceiv­ing ev­ery sin­gle email to your in­box.

If you choose the sec­ond op­tion, never use your nor­mal email ad­dress; it will be flooded.

Give away a free­bie When you first join, Freecy­cle eti­quette is to email an of­fer to the group. Noth­ing is too small.

Get a free­bie It is easy to get hooked as you see the stag­ger­ing amount of free­bies put up for grabs. Items are snapped up at speed, so to bag the best haul, check for new posts as of­ten as pos­si­ble. Once you spot a top find, you just need to con­tact the giver and of­fer to take it off their hands. How­ever, do think about whether you re­ally need the item, or whether some­one else could ben­e­fit more. Plus, fac­tor in petrol costs; small items mightn’t be worth it.

Stay safe While in­ci­dents are rare, there are sim­ple pre­cau­tions you can take to make sure the trans­ac­tion is a safe one. The main rule is not to be pres­surised into let­ting some­one into a par­tic­u­lar area of your home, or go­ing into some­one else’s. If some­one’s emails sound dodgy, trust your gut and don’t bother. If it is a small item, do the ex­change on the doorstep or ar­range to meet in a busy area.

OTHER GIVE­AWAY SITES

As well as Freecy­cle, there sev­eral other give­away web­sites, in­clud­ing Snaf­fleUp.co.uk and MySkip.com. It is also worth check­ing the free­bies sec­tion of your lo­cal Gumtree. There is a full guide to us­ing Freecy­cle and grab- bing the top free­bies at www.mon­eysaving­ex­pert.com/freecy­cle

DO­NATE TO CHAR­ITY

When looking for a home for your hand-me-downs, don’t for­get good old char­i­ties. There are dif­fer­ent op­tions de­pend­ing on the item:

Char­ity shops. They are al­ways looking for good stock. Call the shop first to take be­fore bring­ing in any bulky or elec­tri­cal items.

Cy­cles. It is pos­si­ble to do­nate old bikes to rid­ers in de­vel­op­ing coun­tries through re-cy­cle.org. The scheme has drop off points across the coun­try.

Com­put­ers. Give to a well-es­tab­lished char­ity, as do­nat­ing com­put­ers can be a se­cu­rity risk if it re­tains per­sonal data (even if you delete in­for­ma­tion, it may lurk on the hard disk). Good bets are www. com­put­eraid.org and do­nateapc.org.

Glasses. Many op­ti­cians run pro­grammes where they do­nate sec­ond-hand glasses to de­vel­op­ing coun­tries, in­clud­ing Dol­land & Aitchi­son, Vi­sion Ex­press and Eye­site.

Tools. Con­sider Tools for Self-Re­liance, an or­gan­i­sa­tion that re­con­di­tions car­pen­try tools for use in Africa.

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