Give unwanted tech away by Freecycling

By: Ted Kritsonis

February 18, 2015

RecycleElectronics recycling programs have grown in number to tackle all the e-waste that has accumulated over time, but there is always the alternative of freecycling — giving away old electronics for free to strangers willing to take them.

One man’s trash is another’s treasure, as the saying goes. And it is especially true in the case of technology, where a still-functioning gadget might find prolonged use with someone else. The act of giving something away for free shouldn’t just be a good deed, it also carries the possibility of bartering and meeting new people.

Though popular commerce sites like Kijiji and Craigslist allow advertising freebies and trades, they aren’t designed exclusively for those purposes. Freecycling websites are, and what they lack in aesthetics and sophistication, they make up for in participation. There is a community element to this that stands out, though it seems somewhat impersonal at the same time.

Both and Freecycle Group Finder are two that follow that principle, looking like a classifieds page where all sorts of unwanted items are free for the taking. In this first come, first served environment, location does matter as far as who is active and what is available around you. Both sites make that easy by giving you the option to type in your postal code or city or town. From there, you see what’s being offered and what others might be looking for.

None of this is exclusive to tech, so you’re just as likely to find people offering or looking for furniture and other household goods. But the idea is that you post what you’re giving away or what you’re looking for like you would an ad or auction on one of the other popular sites. This could include a description of the item and photos. Once you make contact with someone, you arrange to make the exchange however you wish. Of course, standard safety procedures apply on both sides, so meeting in a public place is probably best. If it’s a heavier item, like a TV, for example, it’s always good to suggest they’ll need proper transportation commensurate with its size.

As mentioned, there is a community side to all this and each local area may have a moderator or “group leader” that helps facilitate things and maintain parts of the website. This decentralized approach is meant to expedite things but doesn’t require much of a commitment. It’s more about keeping things flowing and fresh, like the friendly reminders that you should remove a post if you’ve successfully given something away.

Retailers do have trade-in and buyback programs for used electronics, but that really does depend on what it is. What you’re looking to give away on Freecycle may be too old or not very marketable to earn money from in those programs or on e-commerce sites, so handing it down to someone who will take it is the next best thing from an electronics recycler.

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