How Not to Freecycle*

*or, “Go Fug Yourself” Goes Environmental

I belong to a local Freecycle list, which has proved entertaining and useful over the years. If you’ve never heard of it, Freecycle is a recycling-oriented group whose main object is to keep things out of landfills. Like Craig’s List, each city/region has its own Freecycle “chapter”, which operates a separate email list or forum. Members can post items they no longer want, or items that they might be looking for. The catch is that everything must be free. I have Freecycled an old bathroom vanity, a used Pur faucet-mount filter, two lamps, a box of very old cookbooks, and an afghan- among other things. I have also received some rabbit manure for my compost pile, books for the kids, and several garden starts off of Freecycle. It is a great idea and does, indeed, keep things out of the landfills.

I get about two dozen emails a day from my local Freecycle group. Most of them are concise and well-written. A few– and lately, more than a few– are not. Some of them are downright obnoxious. For some reason, people have started thinking that they can post their every wish and whim on Freecycle, like it’s a gigantic registry system of free stuff. One dude posted a list of no less than twenty three things that he was looking for. Others have taken to pleading for items, citing personal tragedy or loss. While I certainly don’t mind helping out a person in need, it is really hard to read tale after tale of woe and wistfulness without getting a little desensitized. After all, I’m coming here to recycle some stuff. That’s it. If your uncle’s neighbor’s daughter’s friend suddenly finds herself a single mother and then loses everything in a house fire, I’m sad for her, but…. How to say this kindly? I don’t care. I don’t know her. I’m not going to go through my cupboards at this very instant to see if I can put together a box of things for this woman. Sorry. Please, contact your family, friends, church, or maybe the Salvation Army. That’s what those people are there for. Freecyclers are for Freecycling.

With that in mind, here are a few examples of how to – and how not to – Freecycle.

Posts Offering Things

Traditionally, one’s first post upon joining a local Freecycle should be an Offer – giving something away. A good offer post will describe the item(s), add any pertinent info, and list a general location. Good offer posts do not get into dirty details about why something is being offered, or a lot of extraneous other information that clogs up the list (especially for people receiving their messages on a daily digest format).

A poor offer post, however, can be seen below.


*sigh* The all-caps thing. Must we discuss that again? Haven’t we learned, after two decades-plus of AOL, how to properly “talk” online? As for the kittens, I am glad to know they are sweet. If you hadn’t said, I would have assumed that they were mean, bitchy, fugly felines with hairy eyeballs and green tongues that dripped venom. Come on. ALL kittens are sweet. That’s like saying “good baby” or something equally redundant. If you looked up “sweet” in the dictionary, you would likely find a picture of a kitten. Maybe your kitten. One of them, since you’re willing to separate them. Into how many pieces? I would like 5/8 sweet kitten, please.

Posts Requesting Things

Like an Offer post, a Wanted post should be concise. It should not be wordy, nor should it contain a lot of extraneous details about your life. Par example:

wanted a snake and cage boa or python

i want a snake but where i live its hard to find one due to my car being broke and pet stores around me seem not to have a good slection if anyone has one medium to big size let me know


Kevin. Kevin, Kevin, Kevin. First of all, please don’t sign off with “Love, Kevin”. You sound like you’re eight years old, which would preclude me from wanting to bestow a snake upon you. Second, check your spelling and USE the darn SHIFT KEY to put capitals where they belong. The only thing more annoying than PEOPLE WHO TYPE IN ALL CAPITALS is people who never use capitals at all. Between that and your lack of punctuation, who are you? ee cummings?? Finally, is it really any of my concern that your car is “broke”? No. It’s not. Take a bus, call a cab, or maybe get a friend to help you with this reptile-procurement mission. Ride the train. On second thought, maybe that’s not such a good idea. If you went shopping and managed to find the snake of your dreams in, oh, say, Pittsburgh, it might be a little difficult to get home via Amtrack. So you might have a point with the auto thing, in which case I am now wondering how on earth you will be able to afford to feed a MEDIUM or LARGE SIZE PYTHON OR BOA if you can’t afford to fix your fricking car!?!?

Posts Stating That Things Have Been Received (aka “Thank You” Posts)

Freecycle posts are either an Offer (later updated with Taken) or Wanted (followed by Received). There is no such thing as a Thank You post. If you would like to say Thank You to someone who has Offered something which you have, in turn, received, do so in private. Here is why:

Thank you: Tbear. Bath towel set
I want to say thank you and I enjoyed the drive to your wonderfull
country cottage. You were very helpfull in my lost and dazed state with
your directions via cell phone. Your husband is a very pleasant man and
I hope to have dealings with you again.

PS I wish I had know about the T shirts while I was there! I could have
used them!!!.

Best wishes to you and your.

And thank you for using FreeCycle.


Oh yeah. My wife LOVED the set!.

That does not contain any information useful to other Freecyclers. At best, it suggests that Matt is a rather odd sort since he hopes to have dealings with another woman’s husband again. What does that have to do with recycling used items? It does not even belong on the list at all, although it does give me a warm fuzzy and makes me want to hang gingham in my kitchen so I can have a “country cottage”, too.

WANTED: I want / need gingham fabric in 45″ width, preshrunk important because my washing machine is fritzed and I cant soak fabric and my dinning room table is too short to cut wider widths, so thank you for consideration. I need this fabric ASAP to make gingham curtains for my kitchen windows, which have no curtains on them because the ones I was supposed to get were lost in my stepfather’s nieces’ house fire at her trailor all things were lost there so any help for those people greatly appreciated too. Back to my fabric I need it to be browns or blues, pinks are not good and reds will be too glaring as I have weak retinal structures. This reminds me that I can use a pair of those old people eye-surgery glasses you always see going around at the nursing homes and county fairs in the summertime. Why those old people have their glucola surgerys done in the bright summertime I will never know, but you know what I mean. Then the fabric can be sewn up into nice kitchen curtains for my windows but I don’t exactly know how to sew, so if you want to send along any home decorating patterns that would be certainly appreciable. ALso, needles and thread, and a sewing machine if there is one no one is using at the present moment. I can use it to sew up the curtains if I had one of those. If you also have any of those curtain hanging rods, either white or decorative, that would be fine, and preferably ones that have nails and not screws because my Husband took our screwdrivers camping with him last month and has not yet returned with them. I can use a hammer and nails to put them up, though. Or a staple gun, if anyone has one of those. On second thought, I do not have any windows in my kitchen, being as I do not presently have a kitchen due to the fact that we were Forclosed by the bank last month since we did not remember to pay our house payment in the last eleven months. So if anyone has one of those with a window, not too big or too small, I would greatly appreciate it.

Can pick up ASAP.


One thought on “How Not to Freecycle*

  1. I love how much of a grammar nut you are. I don’t know *ANYONE* like that….really. HA! The only thing that bugs me more is internet-speak, as in; r u going out l8er? Fone me!!!!!1!

    Heaven forbid that we expect people to be fluent in their native language, right?

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