No such thing as a free meal?

25 February 2011

I love a good freebie, whether it’s given away as a promotion or handed down by a friend. This is why since discovering Freecycle I have become a little obsessed with the whole thing.

The idea of the site is that ‘one person’s trash can be another’s treasure’ matching people who have unwanted things with people who want them, aiming to keep goods out of landfill sites and helping out people in local communities.
When I moved to London into an unfurnished flat I was in desperate need of new furniture and on a graduate’s budget of close to zero, I used both Freecycle and Gumtree to find some really good freebies.
I managed to secure two clothes rails from a lady in Manor House, an Ikea standing lamp from a family in Finsbury Park and a dining table and a slightly battered set of chairs from East London. With the help of some friends, several bus journeys and hiring Street Van, we managed to furnish the flat for next to nothing.
On Gumtree there’s a freebie section you can scroll through which although does have a lot of rubbish on it, does also often have good quality items listed.
The catch is you usually have to collect the items yourself, and therefore arrange to hire a van for larger things, but this is still massively cheaper than buying a brand new bed. People can also be unreliable and a few things I arranged annoyingly fell through because they had already gone to other bidders but not been updated.
You need to be quick when items come up. I’m currently searching for a food processor and in a similar way to ebay, the second one is offered, it’s snapped up just as quickly.
There are lots of truly weird, wonderful, and practical things on offer and I highly recommend scrolling through these sites. Last weekend alone I noticed a collection of stick insects, a brand new divan bed, some unwanted bags of soil and a baby grand piano.