Thursday, January 24, 2008

freecycle, let me count the ways...

Why should freecycle be free? Let me count the ways...

1) freecycle is a great new word that accurately describes a popular activity (to reuse/recycle by giving trash away to someone who actually wants it and can use it rather than putting it in a landfill)
2) freecycle is either a compound word combining "free" and "cycle" or it is a portmanteau combining "free" and "recycle"
3) no other word accurately describes the act of freecycling and words by their very nature must be free for all to use
4) giving, is just giving and has no connotation of environmentalism or recycling, freecycling is a specialized form of giving
5) recycling is recycling -- reusing materials, freecycling is a variation on recycling
6) reusing is reusing -- and does not necessarily mean giving away for reuse
7) gifting is usually associated with purchasing and giving something valuable to someone special, it has no connotations regarding recycling or environmentalism or that you have trash you will dump if no one wants it
8) regiving is not a regular "official" word and also implies giving again -- when you have purchased something you could then freecycle it but regiving makes less sense
9) regifting is a popular well known activity -- after you've received a gift you don't need or don't like -- but this does not capture what freecycling is really about
10) freesharing, freeusing, etc are all new constructs that do not have the same ring or popularity as freecycling and also do not as naturally capture the nature and spirit of freecycling
11) freecycle was freely given away hundreds of thousands of times by the people who created it and popularized it and when you give something away, you should be generous and allow people to keep the gift, right?
12) the New York Times, USA Today, Wall Street Journal, Associated Press, San Jose Mercury News, Grist, and many other news organizations have all used "freecycle" as a word and if they can, why not everyone else?
13) Goodwill Industries feels no need to corner the market on goodwill, so why should The Freecycle Network be the only group that can engage in freecycling?
14) the very nature of freecycling encourages the word to be freely freecycled too, right? does it hurt if there are as many freecyclers in the world as possible? isn't that the whole point of the freecycling grassroots movement?

(A word to the wise: If you want to trademark something, don't invent a new word and expect to control it. Rather invent a new word and let it be free. Then pick a separate mark that can be protected by being a trademark. This is why drug companies ALWAYS have a generic name in addition to a brand name for their medications. Otherwise your "mark" will just go the way of yo-yo, escalator, etc)

How many ways are there to freecycle stuff? Let me count the ways...

1) leave stuff on the curb with/or without a "free" sign -- this is a classic method.
2) give stuff away to neighbors or relatives (although you usually don't give them the really trashy stuff)
3) freecycle with a free post on Craigslist
4) freecycle with a free post in the local freetrader (paper or electronic)
5) freecycle by dropping stuff off at Goodwill or Salvation Army and not bother with a tax receipt
6) freecycle by dropping off at your favorite local charity who can use it
7) freecycle by leaving something in the freecycle zone at a dump
8) freecycle by posting to a neighborhood or city email list
9) freecycle through the groups or services listed at
10) and
11) and
12) and
13) and
14) and
15) and
16) and
17) and
18) and
19) and
20) and
21) and
22) and
23) and
24) and
25) and
26) and
27) and
28) and
29) and
30) and
31) and
32) and
33) and
34) and

Wow! There sure are a lot of ways, aren't there?



/egs said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
Laurie said...

Hi -

Just wanted to comment on this particular item:
11) freecycle was freely given away hundreds of thousands of times by the people who created it and popularized it and when you give something away, you should be generous and allow people to keep the gift, right?
My .02: In my mind and probably most other folks', this isn't even a matter of being generous. Once you give an item away, it is no longer yours & becomes the property of whoever you gave it to. Just picture it: to attempt to take it back is not merely ungenerous, it's theft! In this case, of course, the word freecycle isn't a tangible item and is a great exception to the rule that you can't have your cake and eat it too! TFN could keep using the word even while acknowledging that it belongs to everyone. But having agreed in the past that it belongs to the world, to attempt to reclaim it for their exclusive use is not a simple matter of generosity vs stinginess. It's a grab - and a grab is taking what never actually belonged to you in the first place, and helping yourself to what never belonged to you in the first place is...theft.

Thanks very much for your good work and all the sacrifices made for the sake of principle.

Tim, please do me a favor, and if you decide to publish this comment, change my name...scary that I feel I need to ask, isn't it?

Tim Oey said...

Sorry Laurie, editing comments is not possible in (to the best of my knowledge). Either I publish it or I don't. In this case there are many Lauries in the world so I hope you'll forgive me that I've published your comment. Your perspective is very common among those who have contacted me about TFN.