Advantages of Re-homing Other People's Rejects
Can you furnish your home for free? The answer is most certainly yes. The advantages of creating your own much-loved interior in this way are that it's free, but there are other, more important, long-term benefits as well.
If you recycle other people's cast offs you keep these items out of landfill sites. You will help reduce your ecological footprint and help reduce climate change. Hopefully, in the long term, we can help create a better place for humans and animals.
How to Find Free Furniture
Setting up your own home can be extremely expensive. Some items and services just have to be paid for, while others, such as furniture, are easily obtained for free.
Most of us start by asking friends and family for their rejects and occasionally neighbours throw out perfectly good items of furniture. You might also see items on skips or driveways - always ask before you take! I recently liberated and old fridge. It wasn't large enough and had plenty of life in it. I placed it on the front drive with a notice saying ″take me - I still work and I'm looking for a good home″. The fridge soon disappeared and two days later a lady appeared on my door step with a large fruit cake and a Thank You card. I've since given her a dining room table and chairs.
There are other many excellent sources of free furniture ranging from department stores, who occasionally hand out discontinued ranges to charities who specialise in helping people in reduced circumstances. There are also websites like Freecycle, Ebay, Gumtree, Furniture Re-use Network, Netcycler, Liberal Estates, Pre-loved, Snaffleup and Recycle.
Our Sofa - the Neighbour's Cast Off
Frances Spiegel 2013
A World-wide Organisation
The Freecycle.org. website is well established in the UK and other parts of the world with over 5,000 groups and approximately 1,000,000 members. You can give away items you no longer need and obtain things you want. The only rule is they must be free, legal and appropriate for all ages. Freecycle's mission is to re-distribute unwanted furniture, furnishings, electricals and almost anything you can think of, thus keeping them out of landfill sites.
Vintage Bar - Free from Freecycle
Frances Spiegel 2013
Ebay and Gumtree
I wouldn't have thought of Ebay.co.uk as a place for free items but out of curiousity I searched for free furniture. The selection available at that time was amazing, ranging from a dining table and six chairs to a refrigerator, a microwave oven and a bath. The only proviso is that you must be able to collect the item or arrange and pay for delivery.
Gumtree.com is a buying/selling site but, like Ebay, it's always worth searching for freebies. Free items listed recently included a three piece suite, small wardrobe, a futon bed, a chest of drawers and an electric cooker. The only stipulation is that you must be able to collect the items, or arrange and pay for delivery.
Amazon Price: Buy Now
(price as of Aug 21, 2016)
Furniture Re-use Network
The Furniture Re-use Network (frn.org.uk) provides a long list of furniture projects and charities distributing essential household items. The network operates specifically to help people in need, helping to relieve poverty and reduce waste. All items are quality tested.
Netcycler.co.uk is an interesting and unusual site. It has over 100,000 users and is available in England, Germany and Finland. The idea is that you 'wish' for something and you offer something you don't need in exchange. You list your 'wishes' on Netcycler and you also list the items you no longer want. The system will search for matching trades. You don't have to swap - you can't just give away or receive suitable items.
Swapping anything on Netcycler is free but you can also buy and sell for which the site makes a small charge.
Recycling Made Easy
Amazon Price: $32.99 Buy Now
(price as of Aug 21, 2016)
Liberal Estates, Preloved, SnaffleUp and Recycle
Like Freecycle, Liberal Estates.com, Preloved.co.uk, SnaffleUp.co.uk and Recycle.co.uk bring together people offering re-usable stuff and people looking for free stuff. Anything goes, from laptops and electronics to kitchen and bedroom furniture. Recycle also makes money for a number of worthy charities including the British Heart Foundation and Emmaus. SnaffleUp is a particularly useful site because you can get alerts when items you are looking for are listed.
Shiny and New is Very Nice but Re-distributed is Even Better
What is this obsession with brand new shiny items? Does it really matter if something is not quite new? If everyone took one give-away item into their home just imagine the impact on the environment: less would end up in landfill, consumerism would be reduced, and who knows, perhaps we will eventually become a zero-waste nation.
Additional info on getting free furniture and household goods is provided by my Infobarrel colleague Knighttrader in How to Get Furniture for Free.