Last Christmas season, a few residents in my neighborhood decided to create a ‘freecycle’ Facebook page, in an effort to have a more “green” holiday. Basically the idea was to take toys your kids don’t use anymore and swap them for toys that your kids want/need.
One of the biggest benefits about a neighborhood site over craigslist and other freecycle sites is that the geography is limited so you know that the goods are just around the corner, which is super convenient. People leave the goods in plastic grocery bags, and you leave the money for the seller in a pre-determined spot (or hand it over at the door).
Well, pretty soon toys turned into clothing, household goods, and basically everything under the sun was getting listed on our ‘freecycle’ site. After the holidays, we decided to keep the site going, and ended up creating additional sales sites for various items to be sold.
You, too, can start a similar site for your neighborhood. Here is what you need to know to get started:
1. You’ll need to have a Facebook account. I’m pretty sure everyone has one these days, so this shouldn’t be a barrier.
2. Create a Facebook “Group” for your neighborhood and invite your neighbors and/or friends.
3. Don’t forget to set your Group’s security settings. We have ours set so that residents have to be invited by other residents, and other friends can’t see what you post / comment.
4. Take a photo of whatever you’d like to sell or give away, and post a brief description of the item.
And here are a few lessons we’ve learned along the way:
1. Decide how you want to limit the geography. At some point, you want to draw the line so you don’t lose the convenience of picking up items from a neighbor.
2. Relating to point #3 above about security settings, groups should be set to “secret”. The benefit is that your friends won’t see your posts or comments in their feeds. One woman in our community learned this the hard way. When the group was open, she posted a Christmas gift from her MIL who then saw her post. Also, a “secret” group can’t be found on Facebook. You have to be invited by a member of the group.
3. Don’t leave home addresses for the drop-off/pick up under the photo Comments for everyone to see. Instead, send a personal message to each other. At one point, items left on porches began to disappear. No one is sure whether it was because a member of the group was watching posts for addresses or if it was just a random thief spotting goods on porches, or whether donation-related services mistakenly picked up the bags on people’s porches. Either way, it’s always better to be anonymous with your home address.
Below are a couple of photos of things that were free or that I’ve bought for my kids (from the site):
These were free:
I bought this used bike for $15: