Tuesday, March 19, 2013

Spring Cleaning with Freecycle

Welcome to the March edition of the Simply Living Blog Carnival - Clearing the Clutter co-hosted by Mandy at Living Peacefully with Children, Laura at Authentic Parenting, Jennifer at True Confessions of a Real Mommy, and Joella at Fine and Fair.

This month our participants wrote about de-cluttering and cleaning up. Please check out the links to their thoughts at the end of this post.

A rose on one of the gorgeous
rose bushes I got from Freecycle
I've admitted here before that I'm a bit of a hoarder: both with food and other material possessions. I'm taking huge steps to move away from that though, as I come to realize more and more over time that keeping things around that aren't serving me or my family actually interferes with us navigating effectively through our home and our days.

This Spring in particular, I have a renewed sense of intention about letting go of things that are sitting around gathering dust, finishing projects that have been on the list for far too long, and simply upgrading our living environment in general. We moved to this house almost a year ago, and it tends to take me about that long in a new place to start to want to hang art and curtains, to rearrange the furniture so it works best in the space, and to really start to settle in for good. Since this is the first home we've owned, it feels even more significant to be settling into this place that will be ours for the foreseeable future.

As the weather has started to warm up over the past few weeks and the Spring bulbs are blooming all over the city, I've felt truly inspired to get to work going through boxes we've not yet fully unpacked, piles of things in the basement we haven't been using, and stacks of papers around the house that are just sitting around collecting dust.

One of the things I've been using to help me in this constant process of concurrent stuff removal and home improvement is Freecycle. If you're not familiar with Freecycle, I encourage you to search the site to see if there's a Freecycle group in your area. It's a fabulous service!


How it works: 

Members list items they no longer use ("Offer" items), and other members respond to the listings if they're interested in the item. Someone is chosen (everyone has different methods for choosing someone to receive their item) and the item is either left on the person's porch for the other person to pick up, or (sometimes) the two people will meet at a mutually agreed upon location (like a store parking lot or the like). Members can also post "Wanted" listings if there's something they are in need of that someone else might have to give away.

Daniel and Eddie rocking out
on our glider from Freecycle.
I've had (almost exclusively) excellent interactions with fellow Freecyclers. I've given away so many things—even old, broken stuff—to eager Freecycle members. I've learned from using Freecycle that you just never know what someone else can find a use for, and it never hurts to offer! For instance, I recently listed two lightly used toilet seats on Freecycle and (to my surprise!) they were taken from my porch within 24 hours. I've also received many things I really wanted through generous people on Freecycle: three hearty rose bushes, numerous house and vegetable plants, a barely used crock pot for a friend, and (maybe my most favorite Freecycle score) a glider I've used to rock Daniel to sleep for nap countless times.


A few of the many benefits of choosing free exchange (through programs like Freecycle) over buying new or going to a thrift store:


  • It's totally not-for-profit: everyone gets what they want, and no money changes hands.
  • Useful things end up in the hands of a person who wants them, not in the landfill.
  • Meeting new people and making connections over mutual interests: I've had some really wonderful times interacting with fellow Freecyclers, like the afternoon I spent with my brother digging up unwanted plants in a lovely older woman's garden; or the time I helped load a box of shoes I had outgrown into the messenger backpack of the cyclist who came to pick them up; or the time I gave a woman a shower curtain rod which would be a gift for a family member, and she gave me a few of her houseplants as a "thank you."
  • Acquiring used items means they are likely no longer offgassing, and thus they're better for your family to be around. In the case of our glider, I was thrilled to pick this up from a neighbor family (really, just a few blocks from our home) who had used it to soothe and comfort their children until they grew out of it. Not only is it now going to good use, but that chair already holds the memory of sleepy children: nothing to sneeze at when you have a kid with as much trouble sleeping as Daniel has had.

Freecycle has become one of the things I love about living in this green and wonderful city, and it has helped me to get over some of my hesitance about getting rid of things I'm not using anymore. What's more: whenever I have a particularly nice interaction with a Freecycler, I'm reminded that this world really is full of so many wonderful people, and all I have to do is keep my eyes open and I'll see them.

Happy Spring to you! May your seasonal cleaning bring with it a sense of refreshment and renewal. (And keep on Freecycling!) 

Thank you for visiting the Simply Living Blog Carnival cohosted by Mandy at Living Peacefully with Children, Laura at Authentic Parenting, Jennifer at True Confessions of a Real Mommy, and Joella at Fine and Fair

Read about how others are incorporating simple living into their lives by clearing out the clutter. 

We hope you will join us next month, as the Simply Living Blog Carnival focuses on Going Green!


  1. Wonderful! I have provided a lot of our family's needs by swapping with others or knowing that, just as I give our unwanted items to others, if we have a true need, it will be met somehow. I love that you are embracing, not only the financial aspect, but also the environmental aspect.

    1. It has been really incredible to me how easy it is to ask (and receive), to give freely of myself and my things (and enjoy meeting someone else's needs in the process).

      The environmental impacts of using Freecycle (and other kinds of free trade) are significant and important to me. Plus, not spending money (and getting what I wanted anyway) is always more fun for me!

  2. I love Freecycle! I just used it last week up get rid of several things. :)

    1. Yes! I've been getting rid of a lot of things using Freecycle lately, but just the other day I picked up a huge lot of ceramic pots and stone pavers for the garden. Love it!

  3. Any reminder to have faith in humanity is welcome! Its been awhile since I've messed with Freecycle, but Craigslist FREE section is also good.

    1. I totally agree!

      I haven't had much luck with the free section on Craigslist...maybe because it's more of a 'first come, first served' type of deal? I'll give it another chance, though—thanks for the reminder!

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