Freecycling is a combination of 2 words – free and recycling. The whole idea is to offer items in good condition to other people, for free. I’ve joined Freecycling communities since my student days in UK, and both donated and received items from kind people who simply want to reduce their environmental impact. Indirectly, you get to save money and encourage community interaction, too. It’s a great concept.
I even got a bicycle from a nice lady. It got stolen the next day, but still. Thief, I hope you get better use of the bicycle than me. But I was a poor student who during that time was walking 30 minutes to school in order to save money on bus fare, so you’re kind of an asshole.
Some people asked me – what can you get from Freecycle? Rather than saying ‘anything’, I thought I can give an idea of the kinds of things you can expect to find there. Here are 18 things you can get or donate in Freecycle Malaysia.
#1 – Bicycles and cycling accessories
In the same vein, rollerskates/blades, skateboards, longboards, mini scooters and similar items.
They are usually used, and might need repair/replacement parts, so bear those in mind if you request for one.
#2 – Books and magazines
Books and magazines in any subject matter are usually in high demand, and goes quickly. I’ve seen knitting patterns, children’s books, old Readers’ Digest, random academic books, comics and many other types of printed publications.
#3 – Furniture
They are also in high demand, but only request these if you can arrange transportation to collect them. It is not the owner’s responsibility to dismantle, clean, lift, or help you in any way after agreeing to give you the furniture. Bring friends and a truck if you scored bed frames, dining tables, cabinets or other heavy and bulky items.
I say try to avoid items like couches, mattresses and carpets. Getting bed bugs is no joke.
#4 – Casettes/CDs/DVDs
People usually give away their cassette, CD and DVD collections as a set. Don’t be a pest and pick and choose, unless the owner allows you to do so. Show up, pick up, say thank you, leave. Take your own sweet time at home and add what you want to your collection, then offer the ones you don’t want back to Freecycle.
#5 – Kids clothes, toys and items
For frugal mamas out there, you can always request children’s clothes, toys and items from Freecycle. Kids are expensive, and they have that nasty habit where they grow way too fast. I’ve seen people offering strollers, educational toys, kids costumes and much more.
The owner should give away items in clean condition, but they are not responsible for sanitisation, so bring them home and wash them in hot water and/or antibacterial soap.
#6 – Kitchen appliances
Toasters, microwave, ovens, blenders, frying pans, cutlery and more. Bigger items like fridges and freezers are also sometimes offered.
#7 – Home appliances
Vacuum cleaners, washing machine, air-conditioning units, fans and others in this category. Don’t expect the latest models, though. They tend to be bulky, so arrange own method of transportation.
#8 – Office appliances
Printers, office chairs, monitors, mouse, speakers, adapters, and others in this category. They are usually very old models, so don’t request this if you don’t need it – perhaps its more useful for that kid from a poor family with big dreams to become a computer engineer. You can also request if you are able to collect and pass these items to her. That would be a swell thing to do.
#9 – Gardening tools and plants
Surprisingly frequent. Pots, seeds, houseplants, spades and whatever tools related to gardening.
#10 – Arts and crafts
Sewing machines, random fabric, unused yarn, patterns, and other things in this category.
#11 – Musical instruments and tools
Asking for a piano is a bit too much, but smaller instruments like guitars and ukeleles are frequently donated.
#12 – Sports equipment
A bit tricky, but doable. For things like shoes or clothes, you have to specify the size. In Malaysia items like badminton rackets, weight training items and futsal shoes are in high demand, so give them away if you have but don’t use them.
In this case, it’s extremely rude to give items in bad condition. They don’t have to be new, but they have to be in usable condition. Avoid offering broken or smelly items.
#13 – Pets and pet items
I’ve never actually seen pets offered on Freecycle Malaysia before, but I’ve seen it in other communities.
However things like hamster cages, pet food, pet toys, aquariums can be given away.
#14 – Vouchers/Coupons/Tickets
Rare but it happens. Only get these if you plan to use them. Don’t be an ass and re-sell them, that defeats the purpose of Freecycling spirit – this is not for financial gain.
#15 – DIY stuff and tools
Paint, paintbrushes, hammer, leftover wallpaper and anything else in this category are sometimes offered. I’ve also seen raw materials like wood planks offered.
#16 – Clothes, bags and accessories
Like CDs and DVDs, these are usually given as a set so you don’t get to choose. Bring them home and re-offer the ones you don’t want to other people. Its good practice to offer clean items, but wash everything anyway.
#17 – Gadgets
Phones, laptops, gaming equipment, cameras, modem and the like. When offered, they tend to go very fast. Again, they are usually not new models.
Sometimes people also offer/want broken gadgets. Make sure you wipe clean your hard disk, just in case.
#18 – Medical items
I see some people asking for wheelchairs and walking sticks. I don’t know much about this category unfortunately, but I imagine its not good to give away actual medicines or pills or syringes so don’t do that.
I’ve seen people asking for really expensive things (a car, for example) and really specific things (a particular curtain with this exact measurement in this colour). They are often unsuccessful.
Other than that, Freecycle is not the place to offer services, drugs or alcohol.
Always be courteous and polite. ‘Hi, is this item available? This item would be really useful to me as (reason). I am able to come on (days) at around (time range). Thank you for your time and look forward to your reply’ – works for me.
How does the typical Freecycle experience start and end?
If you offer items:
- The owner lists the item. You can either join Freecycle KL (in Yahoo Groups) or post in my new Freecycle@RoR page. A typical format for the subjectline is: [OFFER] Item (location). For example: [OFFER] Accounting books (Ipoh). Then in the post, you add in information about the item (how many books, suitable for who) and the best way to contact you (emails or phone. Don’t give address). Pictures are definitely appreciated. When the listing is live,
- People will contact you. Remember that you can set your own terms. Do not entertain people who beg or are overly difficult (can you send to me? can you pay for postage? can you meet me here? can I get that one too? can you reserve this item for me, and I pick up in two months?). Many owners use the ‘first come, first serve rule’. If the person who ask for the item takes a long time to reply, or go MIA, you can give the item to someone else. You are not obligated to keep it for anyone and are free to give it to whomever you want.
- Set a location, time and date for pickup. For bulky items like furniture, you usually have to give your address. Please exercise safety measures – verify the identity of the requester and have people around. But for everything else, try to meet in public. If the requester is late or no-show, you can give it to the next person.
- Amend your listing. Now you amend your listing to say [TAKEN] Item (location). People will stop contacting you.
If you request items:
- Make a wanted post. You can either join Freecycle KL (in Yahoo Groups) or post in my new Freecycle@RoR page. A typical format for the subjectline is: [WANTED] Item (location). For example: [WANTED] Accounting books (Ipoh). In the post, state what it is for, why you want it, whether you can collect it, and the best way to contact you. The usual practice: if you request 1 item, you should also offer 1 item in return. That way the board is not full of just wanted ads. Give and take, not just give. An exception to this is if the items are specifically collected for charity.
- Wait for people to contact you. If you’re lucky, someone will contact you. If not, wait for a few weeks before re-submitting.
- If someone contacts you and offers the item, follow their terms. Ask them to be sure of the item, and if you want them, then mutually agree on a date/time/location. Don’t be late, and don’t make difficult demands. Show up, greet them, collect item, say thank you, and leave.
- Amend your listing. If you got what you needed, you can amend the listing to say [RECEIVED] Item (location). If not, you can leave it up.
Hope the information above helped you. I really, really like Freecycling and the concept behind it. It’s simple but it’s effective if done well and with responsibility. I invite you to try it out – give away one item that you don’t use. Someone will be happy to have them.
Ready to join this small but growing community? Head here to start posting your [OFFER] and [WANTED] listing in Ringgit Oh Ringgit!