April is National Recycling Month. It is an ideal time to send less items to the landfill and learn more ways to save money at the same time. Downloading an app called Freebie Alerts can keep you informed about free items that are up for grabs in your zip code.

When everything from free couches, desks, lawnmowers, bed frames, clothing, bikes, moving boxes, storm doors, and windows are posted, a chiming notification will alert a user. It means that a neighbor listed a giveaway for someone who wants it. There is no limit to what a person could find. A neighbor may be moving soon or cleaning up. To clear out a space quickly, furniture in great condition may be listed through the app. If a taker has access to a truck, it is easier for him or her to hit the jackpot finding furniture, exercise equipment, or bigger finds without paying a dime. Sometimes listed items have defects such as cracks, cat scratches, or a missing piece. 

Photo Credit: Andrea Blackstone

On December 25, 2021, a user who reviewed the app posted about the appeal of Freebies Alert.

“If you like free stuff or Finding Diamonds in the Rough this app is for you. My recommendation is to shut the notifications off when you are not looking for free stuff and utilize the option in the settings to put in a keyword if you were looking for something specific,” Shirley  Hardley said.

Freebies Alerts informs users about free stuff by aggregating complementary goods posted by neighbors in or near an area code. When the app is downloaded, the user inputs preferences, including this information. Items could be posted on platforms such as Nextdoor, Facebook, Letgo, and OfferUp. Instead of users searching for free items individually online, the app organizes them in a tidy space.

One of the biggest keys to successfully using Freebies Alerts is the ability to contact the poster as soon as the alert sounds. If it is available, immediate pickup is often arranged. Sometimes posters prioritize where items will be rehomed based on who may pick up offered items the quickest. Other posters may favor someone who also states why the item is needed. Many people who use Freebies do not want listings sold.

Another prime manner of saving money is by connecting with your generous neighbors through Facebook Groups. Consider typing your town in Facebook’s group search bar. Experiment with combining the name of your town with the words “Free” or “Buy Nothing.” Neighbors may be giving and taking items right under your nose. Another benefit of joining may be finding out about free community events or resources.

Volunteer moderators tend to spend substantial time vetting posts. Group members are expected to abide by predetermined rules. Violating them could lead to getting banned. People who run these groups invest in a labor of love to help the community. Many of them read each post to promote safety and cut down on scams and spam.

In these groups, members post free items or what they are in search of for free. The first person who types under the post typically gets to claim them. On the other hand, the poster may move on to the next person on the list if he or she does not hear from the poster about coordinating pick up time in a reasonable time period.  Posters who have something to share usually snap a photo and offer whatever needs to be purged from their homes.

There is often no need to go inside of someone’s personal space. Picking up items from porches are commonly known as “porch pickups.” People who make arrangements to rehome one or more items typically retrieve items left for them on porches.  Another tip is to agree to pick up before dark. If the item offered sounds like a scam, members should rely on their gut instincts to slow down and assess the situation. Ask fellow members to weigh in or contact the group’s moderator.

To maximize savings using Freebies Alerts or Buy Nothing Groups, consider the distance of the item that needs to be picked up. If you are willing to travel, weigh the value of the item and the cost of gas. Another tip is if an item requires lifting, bring help. Never expect the person providing a free item to deliver it either.

Finally, when you have something to share, consider paying to forward to someone else who may benefit from an item you are ready to give up. Post it on Freebies or a giveaway group, if you would like to join the recycling stuff movement.

Above all, safely trade items. Some members of groups require meeting in public places or at a police station. Consider providing your personal location for items you want picked up, only if you are comfortable. Some users even leave items near dumpsters or on curbs.

The origins of National Recycling Month date back to George Bush’s presidency in 1990. He urged Americans to make more effort to reduce municipal solid waste by recycling in the community and teaching youth about it, according to a proclamation that was shared by The American Presidency Project.

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