First, I’d like to make it clear I did not start Freecycle. I just heard about it, thought “what a great idea!” and jumped on the bandwagon by joining CheyenneFreecycle in 2004, as part of When the group owner left town a few months later, she asked me to take it over, and I have run CheyenneFreecycle ever since. Somewhere around January 2006, established New Group Approvers (NGAs) in each state, and I took on that job, screening potential group owners for time and Internet access, willingness to commit the energy to run a group, and then helped them through setting up a Yahoogroup and official policies according to requirements. Those requirements became fussier every year, and I’m not sure why. But I gamely struggled along until a few months ago.

When I came under attack by the organization, I went hunting on the Internet for other dissatisfied or unaffiliated groups. I was astonished at what I learned. The three board members required to establish a nonprofit foundation are founder Deron Beal, his wife, and a close family friend (although on, they committed no later than 2007 to expand the number of board members “in the coming year”). The only outside financial reporting is that their annual Form 990 is available on their website at There is no way for ordinary members to have input into official policies. While I will always admire Deron for the brilliant idea that is Freecycle, I certainly don’t respect someone who runs what is supposed to be a nonprofit organization as a private fief.

The idea remains brilliant. Keep usable stuff out of the landfills and help your neighbors save money. I’ve given away a ton of stuff and picked up many items I needed, even including an electric scooter chair that literally makes the difference to me between being housebound and being able to go places like the library. (The giver said the batteries were bad and she didn’t want to sell it enough to get it into sellable condition.) It is an outstanding way to pick up and pass on items that don’t get worn out before they get outgrown, such as children’s clothes and toys.

Just remember, not all the freecycle groups are listed on the official website. The best way to find your local freecycle group is to search Yahoogroups for freecycle (yourtown) (yourstate) and see what comes up.

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