Sites like Freecycle are a great resource; they offer people a chance to get items they need and can't afford. These sites aim to reduce the amount of items thrown away and ending up in landfill. Whatever you don't want, chances are that someone somewhere can make use of it. But for these sites to work well, users need to follow written rules and unwritten etiquette. Here are some tips for getting the most out of sites like Freecycle …
1. Check Frequently
When you're using sites like Freecycle, it pays to check them as often as you can. The faster you can respond to an offer, the more chance you have of being offered the item. Donors will often give the item to the first person who responds. So keep an eye on the site and answer the offer as soon as you see it.
Always be polite when you send a message asking for an item. Many Freecyclers are fed up with receiving messages that say 'I want your item' or 'I'll take everything.' Such messages are likely to be ignored. Instead, tell them that you'd appreciate being considered for the item they're offering, and don't forget to thank them.
3. Avoid Sob Stories
When you write to tell someone you're interested in their item, don't bore them with a sob story. Even if it's true, telling them that your disabled child desperately needs whatever they're offering will likely come across as a fake story. Stick to simply saying that you're interested and would appreciate being considered.
4. Keep Want Posts to a Minimum
Many sites have rules about how many 'want' posts each user can post. Don't exceed that limit, or your posts will be deleted. You may be warned and even have your membership terminated. Sites like Freecycle aren't a shopping list so that you can furnish your home for free.
5. Arrive on Time
If you're offered an item that someone is giving away, stick to the arrangements for picking it up. Be on time; if for some reason you can't make it call them to apologise and inform them. Remember that they're doing you a favor, so don't expect them to go out of their way to accommodate you - and don't ask them to deliver if you don't have a car.
6. Don't Expect Too Much
Regular users of sites like Freecycle will have become accustomed to seeing wanted requests for flatscreen TVs and high-spec laptops. Don't be cheeky if you post a request. If you need a washing machine, you should be grateful for whatever you're offered, rather than expecting a brand new one. And don't expect people to call you or deliver.
7. Offer Items
Freecycle works on the basis of give and take; it's not fair to be a taker but never a giver. So don't just apply for offers; you should also offer items yourself. And don't try to fob people off with broken items that you can't be bothered to take to the garbage tip.
Freecycle can be brilliant, but it does depend on people using it with courtesy and consideration. It's a great way of acquiring things for your home if you don't have much money, getting rid of unwanted goods, and helping the environment. Have you any funny Freecycle stories?