We Caught You Doing Something Cool: Freecycle – A Gift that Keeps on Giving

What do you do when you need to part with the frozen turkey taking up much needed space in your freezer? What about the free infant formula you received in the mail after the birth of your breastfed baby? Have empty moving boxes you can’t justify throwing away? Post them on Freecycle. Recycle with Freecycle

The Freecycle Network is a grassroots and nonprofit community gifting movement. Made up of thousands of local groups, Freecycle promotes reuse through local gifting among members. Members have the opportunity to give and get items for free, in an effort to keep unnecessary waste out of landfills.

“Freecycle is a place to give or receive what you have and don’t need, or what you need and don’t have,” says founder Deron Beal. “It’s a free cycle of giving which keeps stuff out of landfills.”

According to Beal, Freecycle’s mission is to build a worldwide gifting movement that reduces waste, saves precious resources & eases the burden on landfills while enabling members to benefit from the strength of a larger community.

With the new State of Illinois rule that went into effect January 1, 2012, banning used electronics from being tossed into landfills, Freecycle members may benefit from increased electronic gifting.

Among banned items: TVs, computers, monitors, printers, DVD players, gaming systems, fax machines and MP3 players. The ban helps to keep toxic materials such as lead, mercury, arsenic, cadmium and beryllium out of the soil and groundwater, according to the Environmental Law & Policy Center’s Chicago office.

With more than 5,000 Freecycle groups in 85 countries, nearly 9 million members and over 10,000 volunteers, it is estimated that Freecycle keeps more than 25,000 items a day out of landfills.

Since September 2008, Elmhurst’s local group has grown to nearly 2,000 members strong. Membership in Freecycle is free and open to all who want to participate. To sign up for a Freecycle group, visit www.freecycle.org, choose your state and the closest Freecycle group to your location. Clicking on the selected location will take you to the local Freecycle group site to subscribe for membership.

Anyone can become a subscriber, however, there are rules of membership, and local volunteer moderators ensure that the basic rules are followed amongst local group members. Although the types of items gifted are up to the giver to decide, typical goods exchanged include items such as computer equipment, electrical appliances, leftover building supplies, furniture and other household goods.

If you are not in the market to give or receive, members can delete the daily Freecycle emails received in their inbox without ever reading them and/or can cancel membership at any time.

Members of Freecycle have used the site to collect items for victims of natural disasters, such as earthquake ravaged Haiti and hard-hit hurricane areas in Florida. Whether you are giving or receiving for a larger cause or are gifting to help one person in your own backyard, chances are your Freecycle experience will place your item in the hands of someone who will use it, and quite possibly, cherish it.

Now there’s a gift that keeps on giving.


Writer Barbara Lonergan contributes a regular feature for the Elmhurst Cool Cities Coalition titled, We Caught You Doing Something Cool. This story appeared on TribLocal.com and on Elmhurst Patch. It also appeared in the Elmhurst Independent.

If you spot someone around town Doing Something Cool to impact the environment, contact Elmhurst Cool Cities at ecoolcities@gmail.com

Elmhurst Cool Cities Coalition is a volunteer coalition of local institutions, organizations, business leaders and citizens working to achieve the goals of the Sierra Club Cool Cities campaign and the U.S. Mayors’ Climate Protection Agreement. The Coalition encourages city residents and local leader to implement clean energy solutions that save money, create jobs, help curb global warming and to build a cleaner, healthier future. To participate or obtain more information, visit elmhurstcoolcities.org.