Around 40 per cent of Freecycle UKs membership has moved to newly established reuse network Freegle.
According to Freegle, Freecycles unreasonable attitude has pushed nearly 900,000 of its members towards the new reuse network which means Free Giving, Locally, Easily.
Set up by frustrated former members, it claims to offer greater freedom to organise the way we work to suit local needs, without the rigid management hierarchy imposed by The Freecycle Network.
Both Freecycle and Freegle are networks made of local groups where people can get rid of unwanted items or ask for wanted items by posting alerts online. All items are given away for free to those who want them.
Former UK director of Freecycle Neil Morris said: The creation of Freegle was inevitable when dedicated Freecycle volunteers who simply asked for greater autonomy in the UK were asked to leave. This left us with no choice but to set up an alternative for our members in the UK. In the end it has been the best possible outcome. The renewed enthusiasm our volunteers have will really boost the reuse of items, saving significant amounts from going to landfill.
Former Freecycle volunteer - now with an Edinburgh Freegle group - Edward Hibbert believes that there had been tension for a while. He explained that Freecycle UK was not consulted on rules made by the central organisation, which is controlled by the US and there was a lot of anger over how they were enforced and many good ideas about improving Freecycle UK were ignored.
He said: As a last ditch people decided to publicly resign but even with this fairly dramatic gesture, still no action was taken to reform the way things are implemented, and people calling for such reform were being removed from Freecycle. As a result we decided to go our own way.
Newly appointed Freecycle UK Director Janice Hickman disputed that 40 per cent of Freecycle members had moved to Freegle saying the number is much lower. She said: Despite the actions of a small group of individuals, the vast majority of moderators and groups remain with Freecycle, or have had to rejoin the replacement groups.
The group of people who left claimed that the UK leadership was unwilling to negotiate. And yet, the day I was appointed as the new Freecycle UK Director they took the local groups from Freecycle without polling their members. Why? Precisely because they knew a UK director willing to negotiate would maybe take the wind out of their sails.
Hickman pointed out that she is currently creating a new complaints and appeals process, is developing new community guidelines and is seeking global representation for the UK on the global Freecycle leadership team.