Freecycle – Hickory
Georgina: Will you please tell us your name, affiliation with Freecycle, and a little bit about yourself?
Coleen: My name is Coleen and I am a Moderator for Freecycle of Hickory, NC.
I am a combination stay-at-home Mom and I also do freelance work from home.
Crystal is our leader and group owner. She moderates as well, in addition to keeping the list running smoothly, and is a veteran Freecycler.
Georgina: What is Hickory Freecycle? How does it work?
Coleen: Freecycle is a private, non-profit organization that was started in 2003 by Deron Beal and a group of 30-40 friends in Tucson Arizona. At that time, they were working with a group called RISE, whichprovides recycling services to downtown businesses and transitional employment to needy local residents.
As that progressed, they were finding that perfectly good items were being thrown away, so they opted to call or stop by at different non-profit organizations to see if those items could be used by them. It grew to the point where Beal decided to set up the first Freecycle email group where people in Tucson could give and get these items that they were getting.
Since then, Freecycle has spread to 85 countries with 4,860 groups and with 7,614,315 members around the world. Just people helping people with a gigantic *gifting* movement and at the same time keeping an estimated 500 tons of items out of our landfills each day by turning *one man’s trash in to another man’s treasure”.
Freecycle’s mission statement is: “Our mission is to build a worldwide gifting movement that reduces waste, saves precious resources & eases the burden on our landfills while enabling our members to benefit from the strength of a larger community.”
How Freecycle works: An interested person can go to: http://www.freecycle.org/ and join the group that is most local to their region.
Once approved, they can post messages to the message board either requesting an item that they are looking for or offering items they wish to give away.
The responses go directly to the person that posted the message. If someone has what they are looking for and wishes to gift it to them, they contact them directly. The same applies if someone wishes to express interest in an offer. Everything is done privately between the parties.
It is customary for someone that offers an item to get many replies. Who they decide to give the item to is solely at their discretion.
When an item is spoken for, members can post a *Pending* message on the board so others know that the offer is no longer available. They can also post that it has been *Taken* or *Received*.
We strongly and regularly emphasize to everyone to be very safety conscious whenever dealing with people they do not know.
Georgina: What are the rules for Freecycle in general and what is the Hickory Freecycle rules that varies from the others?
Coleen: The basic rules are:
- Anything asked for or offered must be completely free, legal and appropriate for all ages. No alcohol, no firearms, no drugs (legal or illegal), no tobacco and no pornography.
- There can be no strings attached. That means no borrowing, bartering, trading, offers to buy or sell or offers in exchange for *services*. For example, you can’t offer the wood from a tree if someone else comes and cuts it down
- We also have a *no politics, no religion, no spam, and no rudeness* rule.
There are some Freecycle rules that are somewhat flexible and left to the discretion of the group owner so they will vary from group to group. Some of those would be how often someone can request an item, and whether or not pets are allowed to be offered or requested,
In our particular group in Hickory, members can only request one item per week and the same item only once every two weeks. And pet offers and wants are not permitted.
Georgina: How do you post a message and how do you respond to an item on Freecycle?
Coleen: To post a message, one would need to be a member of that particular group first. On the left side of the group home page, there is a box full of link options. They would click on the *post* link. That will take them to a blank page with a subject line and area for their message. We like subject lines and messages to be brief and to the point, and to just include an appropriate keyword first, such as *Wanted*, then state what they are looking for, followed by their general geographic location.
The body of the message can then be used for any other pertinent details that pertain to the request or the item but not to the person’s personal life or situation.
Clicking *send* will then send it off to be posted to the board, unless they are a newer member. In that case, the message will be reviewed by a moderator prior to it being sent to the group.
The method used to respond to a message can vary, depending on how people receive their messages from the group. They can either go to the group home page, click on *messages* and then scan through the messages until one captures their interest and click on it. If they wish to respond, there is a *reply* link there contained therein.
If they receive individual or daily digest messages in their email, the process is basically the same except the *reply* link would be in their mail.
From there, they would write a personal note to the person that made the offer.
Posting rules and guidelines may vary slightly from group to group.
Georgina: Who can join up with your Hickory Freecycle? And how can they find you?
Coleen: Freecycle is free and anyone can join. When they apply for membership and are approved, they are automatically sent a list of group rules and posting guidelines. These are very important to know if they want the group to work for them, so we ask that everyone take the time to read them.
They can find Hickory Freecycle at: http://groups.yahoo.com/group/Freecycle_Hickory/
Georgina: What makes Hickory Freecycle stand out from the others?
Coleen: Our goal is not to stand out per se, but we do work very hard to run a great group, keep the Freecycle mission working and enforce the rules that our *Mother ship* has set down. And we are very lucky to have a lot of great like-minded members. To date, Hickory Freecycle has over 3000 members.
Crystal and I are just part of a very large *team* of people that volunteer their time for one common goal. I think it’s fair to say that the owners and moderators in all of the Freecycle groups volunteer for this cause because we believe strongly in their purpose.
On a more personal note, Crystal and I like to keep it real, keep it moving and keep it drama-free while remaining focused on what we are trying to accomplish.
Georgina: Are there any other words you would like to say or add?
Coleen: I just wanted to add that I personally have been a member for the Freecycle network for about 8 years now, in two different states. I have given away many items over that time and received many as well. It has always been a *win-win* for me. And as an added bonus, I have had the opportunity to meet some really nice people along the way. The effort is very close to my heart and gives me the satisfaction of knowing that I am doing a small part for the environment, and reducing the strain on landfills, as well as helping a few people in the process.
I do want to emphasize though that Freecycle is not a charity. Some people may see the word *free* and assume that we are, and then they read no further.
Goodness knows that in these hard economic times, many people are struggling and some members use the Freecycle effort to offset the cost of finding things that they need, and that is fine. We all need to do what we need to do and *any port in a storm* as the saying goes. In our particular group however, those are private matters. We do not expect members to explain why they are asking for something and we do not allow those stories to be posted to the membership.
We feel strongly that people should not be humbling themselves just to ask for something that they need. That is not the spirit of this group. Additionally, revealing that kind of information about yourself and/or your family can also be a safety threat, so it is not permitted. We maintain links in our database for people who need help from charities so they can access them privately.
In closing, thanks very much for this opportunity to spread the word about the Freecycle movement. It is much appreciated and Happy Freecycling!