This is a good topic to post because the first few times I tried to use freecycle I just ended up frustrated and upset that I could see things passing by that I really needed and no one ever responded to me. Then I got (just a little...okay maybe more) obsessed with trying to work this program out and have become very successful at it if I do say so myself. If you're still skeptical, I've gone ahead and listed just a few of the things I've been able to get from this site:
an upright piano, two armchairs, a set of bunk beds, an antique steamer trunk, two bikes, two sewing machines, and a few strollers just to name some. Don't worry, lots of that stuff is for other ladies who don't have transportation or the time to hunt around so I'm not cornering any markets here. I don't take more than I need and I don't take from the same category in the same day so that others have a chance.
RULES OF THE GAME:
Before I say anything else, I would like to mention the polite rules of this site as I follow them judiciously so as to keep things fair.
1. Be polite with your emails. You can send a few just to make sure something has been taken but always be polite.
2. Do not resell anything you get on freecycle. If you're done with it then pass it on because hey--you got if for free and its all about helping other people out.
3. Be careful. Never send out your phone number unless you're absolutely sure and be even more careful with your address when you're getting rid of something. (I always try to make sure my house is locked up and looking protected so people stopping by can't "case" my house (which I've never seen anyone do but you can't be too careful.)
That being said, let's get you freecyclin':
TO SIGN UP:
1. Either go here or type in Aberdeen freecycle into a search engine.
2. At the bottom of the page it gives you the option of signing up immediately or looking at the Aberdeen page.
3. Once on the Aberdeen page you can "contact the moderators". This is how you sign up. Let them know that you are now living in the area and would like to trade fairly with others. Be polite, brief, and they'll approve you within a week or so.
4. Once you are approved (I always hate a step that takes a while but it can't be helped), you can start freecycling.
TIPS TO GETTING THE STUFF YOU REALLY WANT:
How I managed to finally get some responses was this:
1. I watched the site avidly. Freecycle is mainly first come first serve and although that is daunting, you can do it. Set up a Yahoo mail account just for this purpose and let those freecycle messages pour in. When I first started and was desperately searching for a few things I checked it at least once an hour. You don't have to be that crazy but if you aren't it will take a little luck to catch things just as they've gone up.
2. Reply to the ad and be very polite. This is my go to way of speaking:
Hi, I am very interested in (item) and can pick it up most times. Please let me know if its still available. Thanks either way, Rachel
This way I'm asking but I'm also thanking them for taking the time. Some people don't do first come first serve and would like to hear your sob story so if its something like a stroller I say something like:
Hi, I've been looking everywhere for a stroller for my daughter and hope this one is still available. I can uplift today if need be. Thanks either way, Rachel
If you don't hear back from the people within a few hours--consider the item taken and the emails too numerous for the person to contact. If I don't hear from someone within two hours or so, I usually send a second email. This is a very important email. I've gotten more things on the second try than on the first. I say:
Hi, I'm assuming since you haven't responded that the item is taken already? If for some reason it does not get uplifted, would you consider me for it? I can uplift most times. Thanks either way, Rachel
Most people are trying to get rid of things quickly. If the first person they offer it to doesn't show, my email is usually sitting there very politely saying, "even though you got a ton of emails, I emailed back and I'm a quick uplifter". That works a lot of times.
So there you have it. That's how I have gotten good at this freecycling thing. It does take some time but I've accepted the time I have to sift it here and there as the awesome payoff of finding what we need without spending a lot. I delete all emails at the end of the day and start over the next day. Don't bother reading anything more than 24 hours old as the items have more than likely gone. It wastes more time. If you aren't looking then don't bother with it for awhile because you can burn out. But I have gotten really confident at driving and I know all the areas of the city now because of this hobby so that's another fun reason to try it out.
(Also for those of you heading back to the states, we have this program there too and you can sign up to watch any towns you want. The only bother is so far I have found my town to stink at it back home whereas here there is a lot more going.)
HAPPY FREECYCLING! - Rachel