What, why and how of freecycling in India

Eons ago before mankind industrialized, we exchanged goods to fulfill our daily needs. This was before we discovered currency and established rules of selling, buying and spending. What we engaged in was simple barter – giving and taking of commodities depending on our need. This was an economy of needs and not of wants like today. Something similar exists today, known as freecycling. Made up of two words – free and cycling – it stands for free recycling. For instance, if you are shifting cities and have old furniture to discard, you can give it away to someone in need for free in exchange of something you want from that person.

Freecycling is a relatively new term that has gained popularity in the last few years. Freecycling is different from selling stuff online or putting up garage sales since no money is involved in the exchange. It is different from donating goods or gifting stuff in the sense that there are no social protocols and expectations attached with the act of freecycling.

“A freecycler is someone who chooses to stop useful stuff from ending up at landfill and instead gifts it to someone who can make use of it.”

Freecycling can be seen as both a strategy to ‘reduce’ as well as ‘recycle’ stuff. It reduces waste by decreasing useful stuff from ending up at landfills and it recycles stuff by encouraging the reuse of stuff in same or newer ways without adding any cost of recycling.

Freecycling also discourages buying and consumerist lifestyle while also promotes the idea of a ‘community’ where goods are constantly exchanged and maintained. This also increases accountability for the people in the community to maintain things in good condition for others to be able to use them later.


Maslow’s Buyerarchy of needs re-imagined by Sarah Lazarovic.

Many also see freecycling as an extension of giftivism that encompasses the idea of generosity and taking world away from an economy of greed.

Basic rules of Freecycling

  • Stuff (or gifts) must be in an excellent condition.
  • Stuff once given cannot be taken back.
  • Cost of couriering if involved should be mutually decided (between giver and taker)
  • Expect only things you need and not ‘wants’. The idea is also to curb wants and focus on needs.

What’s stopping us

  • We consider using ‘second-hand’ stuff cheap. Whether we are rich or poor, freecycling should be looked as a means to also reduce the burden on environment.
  • We attach emotional value to things we don’t use and need instead of giving these away to those who need them.
  • We try to sell things to make easy money. The way to think about is to follow the rule, “continue to use a thing until it breaks down or becomes obsolete. Only after that should the thing be moved to recycling or upcycling.” By doing this, we are reducing the cost of recycling and promoting reuse of stuff.

Freecycling in India

Here’s a list of freecycling networks and groups active in Indian cities. If you don’t see one in your city or town, feel free to start one.

Freecycle Network:


Mumbai freecycle group on yahoo

Mumbai freecycle:







If you know of any freecycle group in India we missed, leave the details in comments. And if you start a freecycling group in your city or area, do share your story.

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