So Long, Freecycle

Thanks for becoming useless, Freecycle.

When I first heard about Freecycle years ago, it was fairly brilliant,  a way to offer up things that you don’t need, so that instead of throwing them away someone else will come and take them off your hands. No payments, just giving things away to someone else who wants them. Over the years I’ve given a lot away on Freecycle.

For the past few years, though, the DC-area Freecycle groups have become slightly… well, draconian. They were splintered into lots of smaller groups, which made sense. But suddenly they started demanding that people prove that they were in that small geographical focus, something I always found silly because does it really matter if I live on one side of a town line or the other if I’m going to keep things from being thrown away? This is an area with enough communities and towns all up alongside one another it’s not like I’m in Topeka signing up for things in Chicago. I had to actually fight to get onto the group where my office is; it’s easier for me to have people pick up things here, based on location and hours, than where my home is.

Today, the group for where my office is located sent out a note saying the following:

The Freecycle Network™ made a structure change from groups serving large geographic areas to local groups serving local communities several years ago. This “local focus” helps us create a close-knit, local giving community of neighbors helping neighbors that makes a real impact.

In an effort to maintain our local focus, we need to reserve membership in this group for folks who live in McLean, Vienna, Great Falls, and Merrifield.  Local charities are welcomed (and encouraged) to join. Working here isn’t enough to qualify, you *need* to live here.

If you don’t live within the community we serve, we need to ask you to unsubscribe from this Freecycle list and join the Freecycle group where you live. This will ensure that you are participating with your neighbors, and building community there. Over the next several weeks, we moderators will be doing a clean up, and in the process, might actually take care of this for you.

It’s nice to see this local group go completely opposite against this statement from Freecycle’s “About” page: “The Freecycle Network is open to all communities and to all individuals who want to participate.” In an area where the majority of people work and live in different areas, this message is loud and clear. “We don’t want you. Throw away things rather than try to give them to us.”

Well done, Freecycle. Every time I see a landfill from now on, I’ll think of you.

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