We learned something great while we were staying at Borrego Springs over Christmas and New Years – that freecycle is still possible and a perfect fit for life on the road! For those who aren’t familiar with freecycle, it’s passing something on for free that you no longer want/need to someone who does. The idea behind freecycle is to keep things out of landfills, decrease the production of new items, and help each other save money. It’s like donating, but instead of to an organization that sells it (nothing wrong with that) you are donating a specific item to a specific person.
Jerud was the one who initially made me aware of freecycle, in the form of a Yahoo group. The way the Yahoo group works is that people post a picture and description of the item they want to get rid of and where/how it can be picked up. People could also post a request for something specific that they need. A lot of cities have a freecycle group and Asheville has a very active one. I used it to get plants for my yard and the memory foam topper that we currently use as a mattress, and to give away free things when we were moving out of our house. Our floors in the RV are essentially a freecycle item - our friends were replacing their wood floors and asked if we wanted the floors that was coming out of their house. We said heck yes! And the extra flooring that we didn't use, we freecycled them on the Asheville Yahoo group.
Once we moved into the RV I didn’t really think about freecycle again because I figured it would logistically be complicated to use the Yahoo group. Instead, we just donated items we realized we didn’t need. But while at Borrego Springs, Jaden, a full-time van-dweller and a true minimalist by nature, suggested we put together a freecycle pile since there was a large group of us there. Brilliant!
Kerensa and Brandon of Drive Dive Devour ended up hosting the freecycle pile. It started on a table they set up outside their RV but soon grew too large and was moved onto a tarp on the ground. All kinds of stuff ended up there: kitchen faucets, a computer screen, books, rain boots, clothes, kids’ toys, kitchenware, appliances, tools, etc.
It was a great idea! Being full-timers on the road, we end up finding all kinds of stuff we brought with us but don’t end up needing, receive well-meant but unwanted items given to us by friends and family, clothes kids grow out of, etc. But we also chose to downsize our lives so we are very aware of consumption and are hesitant to buy new things. So freecycle is a win-win. Books were definitely the first things to get taken, but people found all kinds of things that they needed and got rid of a lot too. We picked up a few books and a small waffle iron, something we’ve wanted but weren’t willing to spend the money on.
Freecycling may be something you want to try if you’re staying somewhere with a whole bunch of other full-time travelers! One thing to keep in mind is that not everything that is contributed to the freecycle pile will get taken. So if it’s housed in front of someone’s RV, that person will probably end up getting stuck with all the untaken items and have to bring it somewhere to donate. That was the case in Borrego Springs where after New Year’s everyone started to leave but didn’t take their stuff out of the pile with them. So Brandon and Kerensa ended up having to deal with the leftovers, which wasn’t fair to them. The best thing to do may be to have people place their freecycle items outside their own RV and everyone can walk around and take what they want. Or just make sure the hosts of the pile know they’re on the hook for donating the leftovers.
Holler below and let us know if you’ve done this, how it went and if you have any tips for those who are interested in trying it out!