Freecycle is teaching us how to share online

freecycle_logo.jpgFreecycle, the internet swap shop that allows people to obtain goods and services for free, is deservedly enjoying lots of publicity (Times - Telegraph) as the press hold up its popularity as evidence of the credit crunch.Started in Arizona by eco-warrier Deron Beal in 2003 to reduce the number of unwanted white goods dumped at landfill sites, Freecycle is now attracting 200,000 new users a day, was used by 1.2m people in the last year and thinks it will have enabled five million free transactions by the end of the year.Once a way of recycling unwanted items, Freecycle is now a middle class market for school uniforms, furniture and car repairs if you believe what you read.Either way, it’s fascinating to see the simplest of age-old ‘hand-me-down’ cultures transferring so successfully onto the internet. And even if opportunistic car boot traders and the middle class weren’t part of the original eco vision, they’re all contributing to a reduction in waste and eagerness to recycle.While it carries sponsorship it’s unclear how profitable Freecycle is, especially as most of its activity is carried out using Yahoo groups. However, its growth in popularity suggest there’s still massive potential in the sharing over the internet of not just opinion and information but possessions, services and expertise. Good news for sites such as horsesmouth and others looking to break this space.

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