Monday, September 3, 2007

Why You Shouldn’t Freecycle

Normally we would promote an opportunity to recycle your old goods into new use. When you have the chance to trade used clothes, appliances, furniture, and even homegrown vegetables with other likeminded recyclers in your neighborhood, usually you should. But the line stops at personal information. Which is why so many people are pulling out of their city’s freecycle network.
In 2003, Deron Beal founded the original Freecycle Network in Tucson, Arizona as a local organization. The group soon became a network popping up in other cities, and before long freecyclers spread across the nation. So far, the groups have been organized online through Yahoo groups. Each has local moderators, but Beal maintained ultimate control.
While freecyclers love saving goods from ending up in the landfill, unwanted advertising and harvesting of user information, is not something most signed up for. So when Beal announced changes were in order, many local freecycle groups began pulling away. The changes included the addition of a link that was said to connect everyone to a new site being created. But the link also took everyone’s email addresses and personal information, and then distributed this information to a third-party site. When groups began challenging the additions, they were deleted from Yahoo. Thanks to tactics like these, many members of the 3.6 million person worldwide organization are now looking elsewhere for their recycling needs. Beal is reportedly creating a new Freecycle website—to go live in November—that would not rely on Yahoo and would give him the opportunity to sell advertising. Other members, in turn, have stated that commerce should not be a part of Freecycle.
In the spirit of keeping groups local, many former freecyclers are now finding renewed strength in new organizations. The ReUseIt Network, with a similar ideal as the Freecycle Network, is seeing a new wash of members joining up to keep community recycling alive. If you want to continue the tradition of sharing quality used goods of all kinds—keeping items that may be of no use to you from ending their lives in a dumpster—then check out the ReUseIt Network to learn how you can start recycling furniture, clothes, and more in your local community.


Anonymous said...

There is also a UK only reuse network called RealCycle. This is based around the UK communities and the groups are built with an individual structure that is unique to each community. A London group is not run the same way as a Scottish Highland group.

andyswarbs said...

More on this controversy at

distruk said...

I am not a member of my local Freecycle community, although I had been contemplating joining for about a month. Then I found out our local group had dissolved after being shut down three times. Glad to hear about the RealCycle network in the UK. And for a slightly different take, if recycling of one form or another is your main goal, check out Earth 911 for local recycling resources.