The Freecycle Network
Formation1 May 2003 (2003-05-01)[1]
Legal status501(c)3
Region served
121 countries[2]
Founder, executive director
Deron Beal[4]

The Freecycle Network (TFN) is a private, nonprofit organization[5] registered in Arizona, US and is a charity in the United Kingdom.[6] TFN coordinates a worldwide network of "gifting" groups to divert reusable goods from landfills. The network provides a worldwide online registry, organizing the creation of local groups and forums for individuals and nonprofits to offer (or request) free items for reuse or recycling and to promote a gift economy.[7] In contrast, although flea markets and swap meets also contribute to the 3 Rs (reduce, reuse, recycle), they involve mainly buying and selling or bartering rather than gifting.


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TFN first began when its founder, Deron Beal, collaborated with RISE, a small nonprofit corporation that offers recycling services in the downtown area of Tucson, Arizona, US.[8] The team worked together to find local nonprofits that could potentially use their products, but it was not too successful. Hence, Beal created the first Freecycle email that enabled online users to interact with recycling. In February 2005, TFN accepted $130,000 from Waste Management to help build out the website and the network.[9]

Over time, the concept has spread to over 110 countries,[10] with thousands of local groups and millions of members.[11]

The organization began as a collection of Yahoo! Groups linked from It has become a web-community platform on for all groups, which are run by local volunteers.[12] TFN encourages the formation of new groups, subject to approval by regional new-group approvers. Groups approved by TFN are listed on the website, can use the TFN name and logo, and are subject to rules which are enforced by a network of global and regional group outreach assistance.[13] As of March 2009, all new groups had to join's new-group system, which provides Freecycle-specific tools for local volunteer moderators and gives TFN oversight of individual groups. As of 2015, all local groups are listed on[citation needed]


Membership is completely free to all members, and everything posted on the website must be completely free, legal, and appropriate for everyone regardless of their age.[14] Today, TFN is a global organization with over 4,000 local chapters. They passed two-million-member in February 2006.[15][16] By February 2014, TFN had 6,880,991 members across 5,120 groups worldwide.[17] In December 2023, TFN had 11,022,137 members across 5,355 groups worldwide.[18]


Trademark issues

A notice of opposition[19] was filed in federal court by FreecycleSunnyvale against the Freecycle Network[20] in January 2006. An injunction was granted against Tim Oey in May 2006 for allegedly disparaging the TFN trademark.[21] The injunction was stayed in July 2006 and dissolved by the United States Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit in September 2007.[22] To defend its trademark in 2006, TFN pursued other free recycling groups who used the word "freecycle" or allegedly had "confusingly similar derivations thereof".[23]

Free-speech advocates, including the Electronic Frontier Foundation and 38 law professors, filed an amicus brief[24] opposing a trademark-infringement lawsuit filed by TFN against Tim Oey. The opposition was based on the position that the lawsuit violated Oey's First Amendment rights. Other law professors, including Lawrence Lessig, and Jimmy Wales filed a second amicus brief[25] in support of Oey. In 2007, the US 9th Circuit Court affirmed that freecycle may be used as a word.[26]

On November 24, 2010, TFN lost its trademark claim to "Freecycle" and its logo in the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals.[27] Justice Consuelo María Callahan wrote in her opinion, "Beal did not coin the word 'freecycle' and TFN is not the first organization to promote freecycling ... even ... viewing the evidence in the light most favorable to TFN ... [they] engaged in naked licensing and consequently abandoned the trademarks."[28]

On September 25, 2012, TFN gained a registered trademark in the United States for (registration number 4215094) from the United States Patent and Trademark Office.[29] TFN also received a registered-collective-membership trademark on that date (registration number 4215095).[30] TFN maintains additional registered trademarks in the European Union, New Zealand, Australia and Canada.[citation needed]

UK breakaway

During 2009, there were conflicts between the UK's independent association of TFN moderators and the organization's founders[31] over the UK-based TFN groups' lack of freedom to develop local initiatives and features and their treatment of volunteer group owners and moderators.[32] This resulted in the dismissal of at least 20 local group owners and moderators, who were replaced with new local TFN volunteers.[33] Many owners of UK-based TFN groups formed a new independent association, Freegle.[34][35][36] TFN continued in the UK, with both groups present in many areas.[37] In February 2015, TFN UK claimed to have 592 groups with 4,345,095 members.[38]

See also


  1. ^ "Background - FreecycleFAQ". Retrieved 2016-05-04.
  2. ^ "The Freecycle Network". Archived from the original on 2011-04-23. Retrieved 2011-05-02.
  3. ^ "The Freecycle Network". Retrieved 2016-05-04.
  4. ^ "Leadership - FreecycleFAQ". 2016-02-04. Retrieved 2016-05-04.
  5. ^ "The Freecycle Network". Archived from the original on 2015-03-19. Retrieved 2015-03-18.
  6. ^ "Freecycle UK" is registered under charity number 1118148[permanent dead link] and its registration refers to as its official website address.
  7. ^ Shah, Dhavan V; Nelson, Michelle R; Friedland, L.; Nelson, M. R. (2007). The politics of consumption/the consumption of politics. American Academy of Political and Social Science. Vol. 611. Sage, cop. p. 6. doi:10.1177/0002716207299647. ISBN 978-1-4129-5934-6. S2CID 144677793. Nelson, Rademacher, and Paek explore the underpinnings of sharing and civic identity through a case study of consumers in a second-order, online consumption community: Results show that these individuals hold downshifting attitudes (favor less work and less consumption). Yet the downshifting does not necessarily mean increased civic engagement in a traditional sense. Rather, political and civic engagement for this group included political consumption and digital forms of political participation. ((cite book)): |journal= ignored (help)
  8. ^ "The Freecycle Network". Archived from the original on 2015-03-19. Retrieved 2015-03-18.
  9. ^ Angel, Wendy (1 March 2005). "Free and Fabulous". WasteAge. Retrieved 29 December 2007.
  10. ^ "The Freecycle Network - Notation of Total Countries of Activity". The Freecycle Network. Retrieved 2016-03-23.
  11. ^ "The Freecycle Network - History & Background Information". The Freecycle Network. Archived from the original on 2015-03-19. Retrieved 2015-03-18.
  12. ^ "United States". The Freecycle Network. Retrieved 2016-03-23.
  13. ^ "Guidelines and Disclaime". The Freecycle Network. Retrieved 2016-03-23.
  14. ^ "The Freecycle Network". Archived from the original on 2015-03-19. Retrieved 2015-03-18.
  15. ^ The Freecycle Network Tops Two Million Member Mark Today!, Press release
  16. ^ Jeffery, Yvonne; Barclay, Liz; Grosvenor, Michael (2008). Green Living For Dummies. For Dummies. p. 329. ISBN 978-0-470-22742-8.
  17. ^ "The Freecycle Network". Retrieved 2016-05-04.
  18. ^ "The Freecycle Network". Retrieved 2023-12-19.
  19. ^ FreecycleSunnyvale (18 January 2006). "Notice of Opposition" (PDF). Trademark Trial and Appeal Board, USPTO: Trademark Trial and Appeal Board, USPTO. ESTTA62464. Retrieved 29 December 2007.
  20. ^ FreecycleSunnyvale v. The Freecycle Network, C06-00324CW (United States District Court for the Northern District of California 2006).
  21. ^ The Freecycle Network, Inc. v. Oey, CV 06-173 (CV-06-00173-RCC), 5 (United States District Court for the District of Arizona May 11, 2006).
  22. ^ "Archived copy" (PDF). Archived from the original (PDF) on 2008-07-04. Retrieved 2007-11-06.((cite web)): CS1 maint: archived copy as title (link)
  23. ^ Close. "Good-Doer Attacks a Yahoo Group :: Notices :: Lumen". Retrieved 2016-05-04.
  24. ^[bare URL PDF]
  25. ^[bare URL PDF]
  26. ^ "The Freecycle Network v Oey" (PDF). UNITED STATES COURT OF APPEALS FOR THE NINTH CIRCUIT. Retrieved 2023-02-06.
  27. ^ "With Naked Trademark Licensing, the Freecycle Network is Left Bare - Wiley Rein LLP". Archived from the original on July 26, 2011. Retrieved November 30, 2010.
  28. ^ "FreecycleSunnyvale v. Freecycle Network, 626 F.3d 509 –". Archived from the original on 2010-12-10. Retrieved 2016-05-04.
  29. ^ "TESS -- Error".
  30. ^ "TESS -- Error".
  31. ^ "Arizona Corporation Commission eCorp". Retrieved 2016-05-04.
  32. ^ UK Freecycle moderators break away from US network The Guardian, September 10, 2009
  33. ^ "Moderator Manual:Mod dos - FreecycleFAQ". 2016-03-23. Retrieved 2016-05-04.
  34. ^ Freegle History
  35. ^ Ian Johnston (19 Sep 2009). "Freecycle in bitter split between the majority of UK moderators who remained with Freecycle and those who left to Freegle; Freecycle, the giveaway movement that helps internet users swap things they no longer want, has split with hundreds of thousands of UK members who have joined a rival group". The Telegraph.
  36. ^ Jones, Sam (12 October 2009). "Accusations of very tight control split UK recycling network from US parent: 'Overbearing input' from the States stops British groups making their own decisions, say volunteers". The Observer.
  37. ^ From Freegle and Freecycle websites, posted figures without independent checking or distinction between active and inactive members; for example 23 April 2012, Freegle Camden South (in London NW1), 4,951 members; Freegle Kentish Town (in London NW1), 6,734 members; Freecycle Camden South, 8,663 members; Freecycle Kentish Town, 12,805 members. There is no information on people belonging to both organisations, or long-standing but inactive members of the older organisation.
  38. ^ " UK". Retrieved 2016-05-04.