Project Details

Lots of second hand items at a car boot sale


Giving and receiving items for free using simple online tools.

Project URL:
Project Twitter: @Freecycle

Organisation URL:

  • Community Engagement
  • Environment & Sustainability
  • Data
  • Social Software

Deron Beal was frustrated. RISE, the small non-profit organisation he worked for in Tucson, Arizona, provided recycling services to downtown businesses and transitional employment to Tucsonans in need. The organisation found themselves calling or driving around to see if various local non-profits could use what RISE did not need, rather than watching perfectly good items being thrown away. It was a time consuming, hit or miss affair. Thinking there had to be an easier way, on 1st May 2003, Beal sent out an email announcing The Freecycle Network™ to about 40 friends and a handful of non-profits.

That email was the start of a remarkable community which gives to and gets stuff from one another for free.

Freecycle is a grassroots and entirely non-profit movement of people who are giving (and getting) stuff for free by using an online listings platform. It uses simple, free tools and resembles the listing site craigslist, which also started with an email to friends, where everything is for free.

From Beal’s email, Freecycle has become the world’s largest environmental web community with more than 9.3 million members in more than 5,000 towns across 110 countries. That community shares more than 32,000 items daily, which Freecycle estimates equates to more than a thousand tonnes a day being kept out of landfill. Rather than throw things away people are easily finding alternative uses for them.

Freecycle is also seeding and supporting greater levels of charitable giving and sharing, helping to bring isolated communities back together. The platform is free to join and run completely by volunteers. This combination of a sustainable, volunteer-based operation and positive environmental and social impact makes Freecycle a unique and important technical innovation.

Image 'Chiswick Carboots' courtesy of Kotomi

Last updated: 09th of May, 2014

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