Want free furniture, a place to stay, or even a bike? Thanks to the Internet, it's fairly easy to find a wide variety of free products and services.
Dozens of websites are dedicated to helping you locate stuff your neighbors want to unload, opportunities to swap what you no longer need, ways to find giveaways from businesses, and more.
Obviously, seeking out free stuff is great for your budget, but it can also be good for the planet. Reusing things, for example, keeps valuable items out of the landfill and saves the resources needed to make a new product from scratch.
Here are some of the best ways to find free stuff:
- Log onto Freecycle and other reuse groups to search listings of items being given away by people in your town.
- Craigslist has a whole category dedicated to "free stuff" for each of its participating cities. Find everything from cardboard boxes to electric sewing machines to computer games.
- Search for free reusable items with the Local Reuse application on your iPhone.
- CouchSurfing connects travelers with hosts around the globe. The result: You get both a free place to stay and locals to hang out with for an inside glimpse of other cultures.
- Want free accommodations while travelling, but aren't up for sleeping on a couch? Use Digsville, Home Base Holidays, HomeExchange.com, and HomeLink to find traditional home-exchange opportunities.
- Favorpals is all about helping you trading skills and favors. Clean someone's house in exchange for dog walking when you're at work or for tutoring your kid in math. Or offer painting services and get help with designing a website.
- You can trade anything from babysitting and calligraphy lessons to pianos and foosball tables to cars and boats at U-Exchange.
- Swap books, music, DVDs, or video games via mail through Swaptree. Print a postage label right from your computer for easy mailing.
- You can trade clothes, accessories, shoes, and even cosmetics at Swapstyle.
- Trade kids' stuff you no longer need at Tots Swap Shop or Kizoodle.
- Get free new jewelry at Silver Jewelry Club. What's the catch? This jewelry manufacturing company is looking to get the word out about its designs. Be prepared to pay modest shipping costs.
- MyOpenBar.com helps people find free (or cheap) drinks in New York, Los Angeles, San Francisco, Chicago, Honolulu, and Miami.
- ThefreeSite.com, StartSampling, and Free Stuff Channel are just some of the websites dedicated to helping users find giveaways, samples, trials, and other promotional items.
Environmental journalist Lori Bongiorno shares green-living tips and product reviews with Yahoo! Green's users. Send Lori a question or suggestion for potential use in a future column. Her book, Green Greener Greenest: A Practical Guide to Making Eco-smart Choices a Part of Your Life is available on Yahoo! Shopping and Amazon.com.