Despite the fact that I make admittedly pricey jewelry, I am quite frugal at heart (with the occasional big splurge every once in awhile. But hey, the more you save over the time, the easier it is to save up over time for that piece of jewelry you have had your eye on.). I’m also a huge proponent of reusing, repurposing, and buying things used. It’s great for my wallet, and better for the environment. A win-win, wee!
Since I live in an area with a lot of students and people frequently moving in and out, it’s particularly easy to acquire things used. With the exception of our coffee table and an armoire from Ikea [that I purchased 7 years ago], currently all of the furniture Sam and I own we bought off Craigslist or from friends, or got for free off of Freecycle.
I only discovered Freecycle about three years ago when we moved into our current place. If you haven’t checked it out yet, you need to right now. Seriously.
So what exactly is Freecycle? As quoted on their website: “It’s a grassroots and entirely nonprofit movement of people who are giving (and getting) stuff for free in their own towns. It’s all about reuse and keeping good stuff out of landfills.” Basically, it allows you to give away things locally you no longer need and ask for things you are seeking to avoid throwing away perfectly usable items.
I have been able to purge our house of so many things we no longer need from simply listing them on Freecycle and having it someone pick it up from my front porch. Easy peasy. Plus less clutter in my home = a happier Bev.
I have also acquired things I have needed, from paper towel rolls and egg cartons for making kids’ crafts at my last job to baby clothes and furniture, simply by asking. I will say, you might not always find what you looking for, but overall it is an incredible resource.
Because I am such a fan of this incredible resource, today I would like to share with you my unofficial rules to being a good Freecycler.
1. Read the poster’s instructions
There can be a lot of back and forth coordination (and a LOT of responses to items you are giving away), so I ask people to respond with what item(s) they want (if I am giving away more than one things) and when they are available to pick it up. I also specifically ask that they not write solely to ask if it is still available. If it has not yet been claimed, I promise I will let you know. Despite the simple instructions, I cannot tell you how many e-mails I have received that say “Is the item still available?” or “I’m interested in item x” and no mention of when they can pick it up. We all have limited time, so before responding to someone’s please make sure you have read all of the poster’s instructions.
2. Before replying to an offer, make sure there haven’t been any follow-up messages posted
Once an item has been claimed or picked up, you can send a message notifying the list of this. Especially if it is days after the item has been posted, verify that there is no message stating this and unnecessarily clogging the poster’s inbox with requests for an item that has already been claimed.
3. Show up as promised, or at least let the poster know if you have changed your mind or need to reschedule a pickup
If you say you are coming, you have made a commitment to picking up the item. It often can take a lot of coordination among several people to make sure that everything is picked up and you put things out at the right time. Additionally, it is likely that you are not the only person who wants it. If you say you are going to get it, just because it’s free doesn’t give you the right to be flakey and not get it. If you can’t pick it up when you said you will, notify the poster. Likewise, if you change your mind, tell them so it can be given to someone else.
4. Just because it’s free doesn’t mean you don’t need to use your manners
Just because I am giving away something for free doesn’t mean you don’t have to write a friendly, courteous e-mail. A “Hello, I would be interested in x, y, z and can pick it up tomorrow. Thanks!” goes a long way. An e-mail that says “I’ll take item x” is just plain rude and chances are I’ll pass the item on to someone who is more polite.
5. Say thank you!
Remember those basic rules you learned when you were about three to say please and thank you? If someone gives you something (and for free, I would like to emphasize), make sure to thank them. We’re all busy, but it takes less than 20 seconds to write a quick e-mail thanking the poster.