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It’s true: Free is good

I moved recently, a relatively painless experience that was made all the smoother by the magic of Freecycle. Yahoo! is presently plugging Freecycle with some free giveaways as part of an Earth Day promotion, so if you haven’t yet been introduced to this scrappy online community, now might be a good time to sign up.

Freecycle is not much more than a mailing list in which people either offer up items they no longer want, or request items they’d like to get their hands on. The only rule, really, is that no money changes hands. As with so many things on the web, simplicity has bred success. There are now almost 5 million people signed up for Freecycle mailing lists in over 4,000 communities worldwide.

Squeezing additional life out of goods that would otherwise end up in a landfill offers some clear environmental and economic benefits. The list also has a nice communitarian feel. I used it to give away a bunch of items — furniture, sporting equipment, kitchenware, a perfectly functional digital camera, etc. — and in the process met a lot of obviously delighted people from my neighborhood. I also simplified my move and cut a lot of clutter.

Freecycle happens to operate via Yahoo! Groups mailing lists, and Yahoo! is making an effort to boost the community as part of its Yahoo! Green Free Is Good promotion by “hiding” eco-friendly (and locally relevant) prizes among the group’s daily postings between now and May 4. Find a local group and sign up — it’s free!

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