Do you want to get a free kitchen stove, printers, moisturizers, perfumes, jackets, dog food, textbooks, or even a pet snake? If yes, then you should subscribe to FreeCycle, where everything offered is 100% free with no strings attached. FreeCycle is a Craigslist-type online posting board where members either create posts about the items they are offering, items they want to receive, or items that have already been claimed.

The only hitch with posting to FreeCycle is that the offered item must be completely free; no money or bartered items are allowed to change hands. So, if you are hoping to get rid of your old treadmill, washer, etc., then FreeCycle is the place to do it. Conversely, if you are hoping to pick something up before being forced to purchase it at a store, Freecycle is also the place for you. With this site, someone’s trash truly can be your treasure.

Is FreeCycle a Scam?

It costs nothing to register with FreeCycle and create or answer posts. When you register, you must submit your home city/town or approximate location. There are FreeCycle networks in nearly every city and state in the U.S.; collectively, The FreeCycle Network, or TFN, is a not-for-profit organization that spans 85 countries, seeks to reduce landfill waste, and to empower local communities through the strategic reuse of resources. The U.S. chapter of TFN was started in 2003 in Tucson, Arizona.

My personal experience with FreeCycle has overall been good. Since joining its Madison-based posting board, I’ve managed to acquire a working kitchen stove, a laboratory oven, a printer, printer cartridges, dog food, clothes, perfumes, body lotions, books and shower gels. I’ve also gotten rid of my own books, a food dehydrator, coupons, tennis balls and speakers.

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I’ve saved lots of money in the process; for example, the printer that I picked up would’ve cost me at least $100 to purchase. The printer cartridges I gained were probably worth around $50 brand new. Even my dog food pickups have probably resulted in my acquiring at least $40-worth of kibble. You simply can’t beat this kind of “shopping”. In fact, FreeCycle might even be the perfect retail therapy for shopaholics who would otherwise max out their credit cards by going to department stores and malls.

There are several downsides to FreeCycle too. My email inbox is buried under an average of 50 Freecycle posts each day. If I don’t crack into my email to sort through these posts and delete them, I never see my regular email again. Of course, I could take myself off of the FreeCycle mailing list, but that means I’d also lose out on a lot of the free stuff being offered. You see, most FreeCycle items are given away on a “first response, first get” basis. Sure, some members who post big-ticket items do sort through all their responses first before selecting the best candidate, but most members simply give away their unwanted items to whoever inquires first. That means you have to be quick with the “Reply” button on your email in order to lay claim to many of these treasures. This also means that you literally must have your email open all day. In such cases, having a smartphone helps (I don’t). Alternately, if you don’t want your inbox flooded all the time, you need to be on the FreeCycle site all day.

Another issue with FreeCycle is that the items you offer may receive a ton of interested inquiries from members but few follow-throughs (i.e., item pickups). I myself have been trying to get rid of one of my printers for a month now because the person who initially responded to my post has yet to show up. I’ve placed that printer out on my doorstep for pickup…and by nightfall it’s still sitting there. Incidents like these become especially frustrating when you have inclement weather to contend with.

Despite these annoyances, I intend to stick with FreeCycle. I love the fact that I’ve reduced my carbon footprint by not throwing out as much stuff as before. Also, many of the individuals who respond to my posts or who submit the wanted posts on FreeCycle appear to be in true need. Those individuals might not have been able to afford many of the items that are treated as “castoffs” by others.

But what I truly love about FreeCycle is the treasure hunt aspect of it all. I love not knowing what new item will show up next on the site. I’ve learned that there are gadgets, bookends, books, pieces of furniture, tools and pets that I didn’t even know existed. Seriously, who can beat seeing posts like these:

OFFER: Snake to GOOD home

Mexican Black King Snake, approximately 4′ in length. Age unknown. Comes with aquarium with lid, heat lamp, heating pad etc. Prefer to go to home with appreciative kids who will handle him. VERY gently. Has never bitten. Former rehabilitation snake for those afraid of snakes.

OFFER: expired BBQ sauce, syrup

Two 18oz bottles of Kraft barbecue sauce, unopened but well past their “best by” dates: Thick n Spicy Original (June 2006) and Onion Bits (June 2008).

OFFER: Recycled concrete

I have about 2 tons of quality recycled concrete in my driveway. Come and get it. Free of re-bar, free of wire-mesh, this is perfect for hard scaping, and paving.

OFFER: Decomposed Granite

Free! 20 wheelbarrels of clean decomposed granite. it’s right at the curb in front of my house. pull right up and shovel it in. i’ll help if i’m around.

OFFER: Sticky Glow-In-The-Dark Eyeballs

OK. This is a wierd one. I have about 50, sticky, glow-in-the-dark eyeballs. If you throw them against a wall or door, they sloowwwly roll down. Keep them in the sun for a day and they glow at night. I used them as a marketing gimic for a business I used to own. Each is individually wrapped in it’s own plastic bag. I suggest they not be used for really young children because they may be a choking hazard. They are each about the size of a large grape. Could be great birthday party gifts! Let me know if you want a couple or want them all.

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Join the Discussion

  • Nicholas Medina
    Nicholas Medina


    This is awesome. Our washing machine just broke, if I can locate a new one through this service, I would need to find some magnificent way to thank you!

  • Neil

    And guess who gave away those eyeballs :-)
    How else would you get rid of such a thing? I posted my 16×20 wood deck on a Thursday and by Friday night it was gone…totally cleaned up. Free cycle is a terrific site!

  • Halina

    And guess who claimed the sticky glow-in-the-dark eyeballs?

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