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When is a Freecycle not a Freecycle?
Member Name: grahamt
Date: 16/09/09, updated on 16/09/09 (678 review reads)
Advantages: Give away you unwanted items and declutter yourself
Disadvantages: Not yet as well-known as Freecycle
In these troubled financial times everybody, it seems, wants, nay expects, something for nothing. In my experience, free ad sites such as Gumtree, Preloved, ItsMyMarket, Adzooks and so on, appear to be experiencing lean times, no matter how cheaply items are offered for sale. And yet, these same items offered on recycling sites such as Freecycle, Snaffleup and Freeuseit are practically snatched out of your hand almost before you've posted the ad.
Freecycle is probably the Daddy of the "give it away for free" organisations and reviews have been written about it here by, at the last count, 94 members, including myself. I have been a member of two of the UK groups for some time now and have managed to dispose of many unwanted items. Although I don't actively seek out items offered as often as I offer them myself, I do receive the daily digests of items offered and scan them for anything interesting.
Imagine then my surprise when one of these groups sent me an email digest under a different name. Where previously I had noticed the name of the group included the magic word, Freecycle, suddenly this name was missing and in its place appeared the name "Freegle".
Once my immediate apprehension had dissipated a little, it seemed that this email was from exactly the same people as before. So, why the name change? The answer came in the form of another email from the moderator of the group. It turns out that all has not been well for some time between the US and UK regions of Freecycle.
Freecycle is an American originated organisation, founded in Tucson, Arizona. It appears that it guards jealously its principles and methods of operating, which, I understand, it imposes on all groups wishing to form under the Freecycle banner, no matter where in the World they operate and regardless of local customs and laws. This seeming "We're the US and we know what's best for you" attitude will come as no surprise to many. Some may consider this typical Yankie arrogance; I couldn't possibly comment.
The facts are that nearly a quarter of all UK Freecycle groups have broken away to reform under the Freegle banner, and this number is growing. In most cases this seems to have resulted in the existing group simply changing its name but continuing, at least as far as the end users are concerned, to operate exactly as before.
Freegle groups are constituted as Yahoo groups, just as Freecycle groups still are where they have not converted to the Freegle organisation. Consequently, just as with Freecycle, you have to have a Yahoo Id in order to participate. If you were already a Freecycle member and the Freecycle group to which you belonged has now become a Freegle group then there is no action that you need to take; just carry on exactly as before.
If, however, you are currently neither a Yahoo, Freecycle or Freegle member but like the idea of what Freegle seeks to achieve then the first thing you need to do is to find out if there is a Freegle group covering your area. You can do this by visiting the Freegle website, which is not hosted on Yahoo so you don't need to concern yourself about a Yahoo Id just yet. Here you will also find information on what the Freegle organisation is all about and here also under "History" you will find a statement about the inter-organisation dispute.
"Find a group" takes you to a page listing the UK regions of the Freegle organisation and below the map is an indicator of the number of groups and members constituted under the Freegle banner. At the time of writing there are 138 groups and over half a million members, so it is likely that you will find one near you, if not today, then soon. Clicking on the name of a group links you to that group's webpage on Yahoo. At this point, if you are already a Yahoo member then you simply sign in with your Yahoo Id and password; if not then you firstly sign up with Yahoo; both links are at the top left-hand side of the page.
Yahoo Groups have a whole range of features associated with them and the ones in which you are probably most likely to be interested are Photos and Messages.
If you have an item of which you want to dispose then it's probably best to provide a photo of it so that potential takers can see exactly what it is you are offering, though this is not obligatory; many members don't bother with a photo but I usually do. Once you have uploaded your photo, go to it and copy the link URL to include in your message. Note though that a photo posted on one group cannot be reused with a message in another group: you must upload the photo to each group individually.
You then need to go to "Post", which may appear under Messages or on its own. This will link you to the webpage where you can describe what it is that you have to offer. The Subject line, by convention, should be formatted: "OFFERED: What it is you have to offer (Town or district where you live)".
Below this you can describe the item(s) and paste in that link you copied to the photo(s). It is usually best to limit your message to just one item although some members do describe in the subject line their items as "Various"! I find this unhelpful.
You then submit your message and one of two things will happen. If the Moderator of the group permits immediate display, your message will appear under "Messages". However, most groups, in my experience, are moderated groups and so the Moderator may wish to read you message to decide if it is appropriate and does not contravene the normal rules before allowing it to appear. You then sit back and wait to see if you have any takers; it's as simple as that.
Freegle groups tend to have a second group associated with them, a "Cafe", using a similar group name, usually simply with the word Cafe tacked on the end. This is a general discussion group and is where issues relating to the organisation of the group are posted. Here also members can post items which fall outside of the scope of the Freegle group. Such items might be posting notice of events or the advertising by members of services that they offer.
You aren't obliged to join the associated Cafe but it is recommended. This is where I found out why one of my Freecycle group had suddenly changed its name, and why.
So, when is a Freecycle not a Freecycle? When it's a Freegle! Happy Freegling.
Summary: A new Recycling organisation, constitruted in the UK, with familiar aims