Free Your Stuff – Because Life in Berlin is all about ‘Give and Take’
By Brendan Power . August 27, 2014
There’s an old saying that one man’s meat is another man’s poison, but that proverb also works both ways. There’s also a quiet revolution happening on Facebook in Berlin lately, although the basic concept is anything but new. People have been giving and receiving stuff for free online almost since the dawn of the internet, on websites such as Craigslist, Ebay, Freecycle, and many many more, but as far as I am aware Free Your Stuff Berlin is the first one to use the massively popular medium of Facebook to do so, at least in this part of the world. Because it harnesses such a popular platform for the purpose of the common good, this is where the magic happens, as postings can easily be shared between friends and across social networks, meaning more stuff is being offered and seen and picked up by more people every day. When I joined the group a month or so back there were only a few thousand members, that number is now almost 20,000 and growing everyday.
There are full list of rules and regulations on the page itself, but the golden rule is there are no commercial offers whatsoever, so don’t post “I am selling my iPhone for 100 euro”even if you feel like at that price you are basically giving it away. Also at the beginning of the post, posters need to write GIVE: or NEED: depending on if they are looking to acquire something, or give it away. It also really helps if you give your location in your post. Normally you’ll find posts either looking for or giving away stuff like mattresses, clothes, German language-learning books, desks, toasters, you name it and it’s probably been posted. Also you cannot give away animals on this page either, I once tried to give away all the fruit flies that were hanging out in my kitchen this summer, and despite good natured feedback and some humourous responses, such as offers to train them for a circus act, the post was later taken down by moderators. I promise I only did it because it was Sunday and I was a little bored. Genuinely, I have already benefitted, or at least my dog has, from this great service, since less than an hour after she chewed through her last doggie collar, I was already on my way to meet a nice US-Czech lady in Friedrichshain for a cool fresh lemonade and two replacement collars. Proof the system works, and that you get to meet some really nice folks at the same time.
As I mentioned at the start of this post, giving and receiving free, usually second-hand, stuff online is nothing new, but using the medium of Facebook to do so is, and the speed at which items are posted and re-homed is amazing. Also, as most Berliners sadly know, the average wages round these here parts leave a lot to be desired, so anything that can help you get what you need without depleting your Pueblo/Sternburg fund is welcomed. Another important role this forum plays is supporting the newcomer to Berlin, or new home-owner (renter) which generally happens at the end of the month. Free Your Stuff can really help you feather your new nest without affecting your precious bank balance, or on the flip side, it will provide you with free movers to whisk away that sofa that you’ve fallen out of love with so long ago. So, if you’ve just moved here, know someone who has, or need an easy way to get rid of your clutter – go to Free Your Stuff!