The Freecycle Network

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The Freecycle Network
Typeset, surrounded by two arrows
The Freecycle Network logo
Abbreviation TFN
Motto Changing the world one gift at a time
Formation 1 May 2003 (2003-05-01)[1]
Legal status 501(c)3
Purpose Recycling
Region served
121 countries[2]
Founder, executive director
Deron Beal[4]

The Freecycle Network (TFN, or Freecycle) is a nonprofit organization registered in Arizona and as a charity in the United Kingdom.[5] 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 (and receive) free items for reuse or recycling and to promote a gift economy.[6]


TFN originated as a project of RISE, a nonprofit corporation, to promote waste reduction in Tucson, Arizona. RISE then transferred the project to a newly founded nonprofit organization, the Freecycle Network, whose executive director (Deron Beal) was the initial project leader.[7][8] Beal originated the first Freecycle email group for Tucson residents. The concept has spread to over 110 countries,[9] with thousands of local groups and millions of members.[10]

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.[11] 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.[12] 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


TFN has a global organization of over 4,000 local chapters, and passed the two-million-member mark in February 2006.[13][14] In February 2014, its membership was 6,880,991 in 5,120 groups worldwide.[15]


Corporate support[edit]

In February 2005, TFN accepted corporate support for the first time: $130,000 from Waste Management.[16]

Trademark issues[edit]

A notice of opposition[17] was filed in federal court by FreecycleSunnyvale against the Freecycle Network[18] in January 2006. An injunction was granted against Tim Oey in May 2006 for allegedly disparaging the TFN trademark.[19] The injunction was stayed in July 2006 and dissolved by the United States Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit in September 2007.[20] To defend its trademark in 2006, TFN pursued other free recycling groups who used the word "freecycle" or allegedly had "confusingly similar derivations thereof".[21]

Free-speech advocates, including the Electronic Frontier Foundation and 38 law professors, filed an amicus brief[22] 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[23] in support of Oey. On November 24, 2010, TFN lost its trademark claim to "Freecycle" and its logo in the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals.[24] 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."[25]

On September 25, 2012, TFN regained a registered trademark in the United States for (registration number 4215094) from the United States Patent and Trademark Office.[26] TFN also received a registered-collective-membership trademark on that date (registration number 4215095).[27] TFN maintains additional registered trademarks in the European Union, New Zealand, Australia and Canada.[citation needed]

Payments to founder[edit]

Although TFN is primarily run by volunteers, Beal received a salary of $70,000 and "other compensation" of $12,811 in 2014.[28] To determine Beal's salary, the TFN board "sees what is a reasonable pay level comparable to similar other local nonprofits and then we see how close we can get to achieving that amount, then the board votes on it; Deron Beal abstains."[citation needed] The board consists of three people; one is Beal's wife, Jennifer Columbus.[28]

UK breakaway[edit]

During 2009, there was repeated conflict between the UK's independent association of TFN moderators and the organization's founders[29] over the UK-based TFN groups' lack of freedom to develop local initiatives and features and their treatment of volunteer group owners and moderators.[30] This resulted in the dismissal of at least 20 local group owners and moderators, who were replaced with new local TFN volunteers.[31] Many owners of UK-based TFN groups formed a new independent association, Freegle.[32][33][34] TFN continued in the UK, with both groups present in many areas.[35] In February 2015, TFN UK claimed 592 groups with 4,345,095 members.[36]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ "Background - FreecycleFAQ". Retrieved 2016-05-04. 
  2. ^
  3. ^ "The Freecycle Network". Retrieved 2016-05-04. 
  4. ^ "Leadership - FreecycleFAQ". 2016-02-04. Retrieved 2016-05-04. 
  5. ^ "Freecycle UK" is registered under charity number 1118148 and its registration refers to as its official website address.
  6. ^ Shah, Dhavan V; Nelson, Michelle R; Friedland, L.; Nelson, M. R. (2007). The politics of consumption/the consumption of politics. The ANNALS of the American Academy of Political and Social Science. American Academy of Political and Social Science. 611. Sage, cop. p. 6. doi:10.1177/0002716207299647. ISBN 1-4129-5934-9. 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. 
  7. ^ "The Freecycle Network - Initial Incorporation Record". Arizona Corporation Commission. Retrieved 2016-03-23. 
  8. ^ "The Freecycle Network - Initial Trade Name Registration Record". Arizona Secretary of State. Retrieved 2016-03-23. 
  9. ^ "The Freecycle Network - Notation of Total Countries of Activity". The Freecycle Network. Retrieved 2016-03-23. 
  10. ^ "The Freecycle Network - History & Background Information". The Freecycle Network. Retrieved 2015-03-18. 
  11. ^ "United States". The Freecycle Network. Retrieved 2016-03-23. 
  12. ^ "Guidelines and Disclaime". The Freecycle Network. Retrieved 2016-03-23. 
  13. ^ The Freecycle Network Tops Two Million Member Mark Today!, Press release
  14. ^ Jeffery, Yvonne; Barclay, Liz; Grosvenor, Michael (2008). Green Living For Dummies. For Dummies. p. 329. ISBN 978-0-470-22742-8. 
  15. ^ "The Freecycle Network". Retrieved 2016-05-04. 
  16. ^ Angel, Wendy (1 March 2005). "Free and Fabulous". WasteAge. Retrieved 29 December 2007. 
  17. ^ 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. 
  18. ^ FreecycleSunnyvale v. The Freecycle Network, No. C06-00324CW (N.D. Cal. 2006).
  19. ^ The Freecycle Network, Inc. v. Oey, No. CV 06-173 (CV-06-00173-RCC), 5 (D. Ariz. May 11, 2006).
  20. ^
  21. ^ Close. "Good-Doer Attacks a Yahoo Group :: Notices :: Lumen". Retrieved 2016-05-04. 
  22. ^
  23. ^
  24. ^ "Archived copy". Archived from the original on July 26, 2011. Retrieved November 30, 2010. 
  25. ^ "FreecycleSunnyvale v. Freecycle Network, 626 F.3d 509 –". Retrieved 2016-05-04. 
  26. ^
  27. ^
  28. ^ a b
  29. ^ "Arizona Corporation Commission eCorp". Retrieved 2016-05-04. 
  30. ^ UK Freecycle moderators break away from US network The Guardian, September 10, 2009
  31. ^ "Moderator Manual:Mod dos - FreecycleFAQ". 2016-03-23. Retrieved 2016-05-04. 
  32. ^ Freegle History
  33. ^ 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. 
  34. ^ 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. 
  35. ^ 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), 4951 members; Freegle Kentish Town (in London NW1), 6734 members; Freecycle Camden South, 8663 members; Freecycle Kentish Town, 12805 members. There is no information on people belonging to both organisations, or long-standing but inactive members of the older organisation.
  36. ^ " UK". Retrieved 2016-05-04. 

External links[edit]