Has Freecycle UK run out of puff?

freecycleIt sounds as if the wonderful freecycle could be reaching the end of the road in the UK.

For the last umpteen years, it has been a model of green thinking, keeping things out of landfill, allowing people to offload surplus stuff while finding a new home at the same time.

Equally, it’s been a boon for people looking to start a new home, find something obscure or simply those who want to cut costs.

But it seems as if the American owners of Freecycle haven’t been particularly receptive to the way things are done in the UK.

This morning, I received a message from my local group moderators announcing their departure from the local group and the set-up of a new green recycling group that no longer trades under the auspices of Freecycle.

These people are volunteers, running the group without pay 24 hours a day, all out of the goodness of their own hearts, so it’s not an issue of pay.

Part of their message read as follows:
Leaders of Freecycle in the UK have spent more than two years talking with the main Freecycle Network (in the USA) trying to get the freedom to run things in a way more suited to how Freecycle works in the UK. So we can make it better for all of us.

Nothing has been changed.

Earlier this summer four leading members of the National UK Freecycle team resigned including the Director, in protest at the lack of change . Moderators around the country then formed an Independent Association of Moderators and AGAIN tried talking with The Freecycle Network. Hoping to negotiate and find a positive way to continue under the banner of Freecycle.

This has not been possible. We acknowledge that what Freecycle does in the community is great. We just don’t agree that we should be dictated to from across the Atlantic and adopt inappropriate policies. We think the members and moderators make Freecycle great.

There has now been multiple summary expulsions of moderators who have asked for change from Freecycle. All UK moderators have lost their freedom of speech within the organisation. So here in Xxxxxxx we have decided to go our own way along with the majority of other Freecycle UK groups.

From my experiences at AOL, I know that, while moderation is vital and guidelines and policies need to be in place, it is foolhardy to dictate to people who give up their own freetime for the good of others.

Their philanthropism will only stretch so far and eventually, as it seems with Freecycle UK, will vote with their feet.

This will be a shame, but hopefully these similar groups will continue to be as successful.

I’ve enjoyed using the services of Freecycle in the past and hope to make use of any new group who operates under the same principles. Good luck!

5 thoughts on “Has Freecycle UK run out of puff?

  1. The bad PR arising from the inability of the US and UK directors to resolve this without it becoming puclic is hugely damaging to our reputation in the UK and will no doubt result in items going needlessly to landfil.

    The UK urgently needs a new banner under which we can set up groups which are run in the UK by the UK in the most environmentaly friendly way. This should then be presented as a re-branding.

  2. I agree, Rachel – it was a huge surprise to read that the negotiations have been going on for so long without them being made public. Freecycle is a well-known brand in the UK and I hope people will be willing to move on to somewhere new if things are as bad as described.

  3. I was a member, then moderator and then group owner on Freecycle for almost 3 years, and earlier this summer began to see how bad things were going, so I mid August I took my group over to the Realcycle Organisation, which encourages local control of your group.
    After a lot of hastle from some members who recreated the Freecycle group, They have seen the light and left freecycle and joined an organisation called Freegle, which seems to have been formed by some of the old Freecycle UK management team, but this has left a lot of members unsure as to what group is what, but hopefully they will all have had a link to a new group.

  4. Your last sentence is, I hope, the most important. I think anyone who has used and loved Freecycle has to find a link to a new group that works for them.

    The sad thing is that, under the Freecycle umbrella, everyone knew where to go. Sadly, with the problems that have emerged, it seems that umbrella group will no longer be the first port of call. Not terrible in itself, but ultimately it’s the ‘consumer’ and everyday public who will lose out. Hope your new group is still as active as ever!

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