The old saying that you can’t get something for nothing is no longer true. There is free stuff all around, as long as you know where to look for it.
And some of it can be really great stuff. Something for nothing may no longer be true, but the one about “One person’s trash is another’s treasure” definitely still applies.
I am astounded at the things that people give away, and my faith in the kindness of people is often reaffirmed when I see the generous responses to peoples requests for the things they need.
The benefits of the ‘freeconomy’ go way beyond the bank balance too. It helps to keep things out of landfill, reduces the demand for new stuff and the drain on natural resources, and can create a lovely warm glow, all at the same time.
Needless to say, I’m a big fan.
Here’s my guide to where to look for Free Stuff.
Friends and Family
I left this until end in my recent post on Sourcing Stuff Secondhand, but said at the time that I should have really put it first.
Asking friends and family is a really obvious, and often over-looked way of finding the things you need. And most of the time they will let you have it/borrow it for free!
Freecycle and Freegle
Freecycle and Freegle both work in similar ways.
You join a local group, and then you can get stuff for free!
Members post their unwanted items and they are offered free to anyone who wants them. You can also post WANTED ads in your local group if you are looking for something specific.
Freecycle is probably the biggest and most well known of all the free networks.
It has over 9 million members worldwide, in over 5,000 different groups. Membership is free.
Freegle works in a similar way to Freecycle, but is UK based. There are over 2 million members, in more than 400 groups around the UK. They have recently launched a new app that makes it easier to use the website on the go.
I’m putting together a guide to happy Freecycling, so keep your eyes peeled for some top tips!
Buy Nothing Project
The Buy Nothing Project started in the USA and has since spread to 18 countries worldwide, with over 1200 groups, and 150,000+ members.
In some respects it works in a similar way to Freecycle and Freegle, but it is Facebook based. But it’s about more than the stuff-it bills itself as “a social movement… enabling people and communities to commit episodic acts of daily good together”.
As well as offering or asking for ‘stuff’ you can ask for help or time as well. People in my local group have asked for lifts into town, or other new mums to meet up with for coffee. In the USA there have even been whole Buy Nothing weddings, where everything has been sourced via the generosity of the group.
Many towns now have their own Free Stuff and For Sale groups set up in Facebook. Enter the name of your town into the search bar in Facebook and see what comes up!
Gumtree is another classified site, and has a Freebie page where things are listed for free. You can search by location to avoid being tempted by just the thing you need, only to discover it’s 300 miles away!
For clothes, Swishing is a fabulous way to refresh or update your wardrobe for free.
Swishes can be just you and a few friends getting together one evening, right up to big events that only take labelled garments.
Check out the Swishing website to see if there is anything near you, and I’ve written a guide to Swishing here if you want some more information.
Swindon has started up a whole network of Free Shops across the town after the success of the Free Shop at Savernake St Social Hall.
If you know of anymore happening around the country, please do let me know.
And if you think it’s a great idea, and are interested in setting up one near you, this post here has lots of really useful information.
Give and Take Events
I talked about these in the blog post last week-they are like a Bring and Buy Sale without the buying element, and are often organised by local councils as part of their waste reduction strategies. A useful place to look to see if there are any happening near you is your local council website. If there aren’t any happening, ask them if it’s something they would consider running in the future, and may offer your help!
Skip Diving/Street Finds
I think the prevalence and quality of street/skip finds varies widely depending on where you are in the country.
In my experience, people leaving things out by the side of the road with a “FREE” sign on it, tends to be more of a city/big town thing, on roads where there is lots of through traffic.
I have to confess as well, that I have never been Skip Diving. I’ve been Skip Nosing, and will often take a peek as I walk past, but I’ve never really seen anything that I would want to take. If you do spat a treasure, the caveat with skip diving, is that you must ask the permission of the person who is paying for the skip before you take anything!
There is such an abundance of ‘stuff’ out there if you know where to look.
Our disposable society means that people place very little value on things now, and often times are just happy to get rid of stuff to make space for the next latest must have thing. It’s a sad reflection on our attitude to stuff and the resources needed to make them, but at least with sites and groups like those listed above, we can keep these things out of landfill, and not be adding to the demand for cheap throwaway goods.