A lot of you may already be familiar with freecycle, a sort of altruistic ebay where people offer to give away their unwanted stuff for free. You basically join an internet mailing group in your area and you can either post up or respond to offers of old bikes, fridges, children’s clothes, and just about anything you can imagine.
The theory is that if people give away the things that they no longer want rather than throwing them out this will reduce the amount of rubbish in landfill sites and be generally good for the environment.
Initially Kerry and I were incredibly enthusiastic about the whole thing. Here was a way to be environmentally friendly and fill our house up with free crap all at the same time! We signed up to four separate local groups and leapt on each email eagerly. Within the first week I managed to get a load of topsoil for my vegetable patch which would have probably cost me around fifty pounds to buy.
But the glittering wonder of freecycle soon became tarnished for us. Sure, there was stuff that we would have gladly given a new home to. But each time we responded to an advert the item had already been taken. We were being outwitted and outmanoeuvred by the freecycle ninjas. These are the shadowy lords of stealth and opportunity who sit in front of the site for hours on end hitting the refresh button, waiting to pounce on anything half decent that comes up. They are, no doubt, the same people who outsmart you on ebay by bidding £0.01 more than you in the last second of the auction. I know for a fact these people exist because I work with one of them. My friend Ian may not dress in black and yell out “TURTLE POWER!!” every three minutes; but the assortment of free sheds, wendy houses, flagstones, and climbing frames in his back garden are a testament to his membership of this secretive organisation.
I of course don’t have time to sit around constantly refreshing freecycle. I’m far too busy sitting around constantly refreshing my blog statcounter to do anything like that. But in truth it wasn’t the Freecycle ninjas that put us off the site. It’s the bloody wanted adverts.
As well as posting things to give away, you can also post requests for things you want people to give you. To say that some people abuse this would be an understatement. I have eventually had to unsubscribe from the mailing list because if I see one more “WANTED: laptop with windows XP and DVD writer” request I will end up climbing to the top of the church tower with a high-powered water pistol (we don’t really have many assault rifles in England).
The finest example of the sheer barefaced cheek of the Freecycle wanted ad poster I saw was: “WANTED: old Star Wars toys and figures for sons school project”. Yeah, right; what school project was that again? A how to sell stuff on ebay project?
Before I unsubscribed to the list I posted of my own wanted ad as a final expression of my bitterness:
WANTED: £50 notes
My daughter is currently doing a school project and needs a number of £50 notes. We could also use any £20, £10, and at a push £5 notes too. Am willing to collect.
Oh, and I also want a laptop
Unfortunately the moderators caught it before it went up. Knowing my luck even if I had got past the censors any offers I got would have all been in Scottish currency anyway, so there’s probably no great loss.