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What Is a Gift Economy and Where Can You Share Items Online in the UK?

What Is a Gift Economy and Where Can You Share Items Online in the UK?

It feels great to give - and that's what the gift economy is all about.

Sometimes, for whatever reason, you can't sell or donate an item. Maybe it's too old or worn, or maybe it's a bit of a random object like old computer equipment. But that doesn't mean it has to go in the bin!

Another way of moving on your unwanted bits and bobs is by giving them to those who can make use of them. There are plenty of websites and online communities where you can do this - keep reading! 

What Is a Gift Economy

A gift economy is where local communities to share what they have, keeping clothes, books, electronics etc., moving without having to send them across the country in the post (ideally!). By definition, it means that you give away something expecting nothing in return, and that means no items are sold or even swapped. 

Wait, Hang On... Why Should I Give Away My Unwanted Item for Free?

Gifting or giving away stuff for free is a choice and not one we can always make. And, as we mentioned above, there are reasons why you might not be able to sell or donate your item.

Even if you do have something you could sell, the 'gift economy' provides other ways and means to ensure you give a new life to your old clothes, electronics, books and whatever else you've got kicking around!  

So, what's the fuss about gifting? What do you get out of giving away your unwanted items?



Part of the reason it feels so good to give is that you're performing a small act of kindness. You could keep someone else warm by gifting an unwanted jumper that has sat in the bottom of your wardrobe. When you choose to gift something, you might not get anything in return. So there is every opportunity to give more than you take to give others a helping hand.

Reduce waste to landfill 

When you find someone to give your old used furniture, CDs or kitchen utensils to, you're cutting out the middle man and ensuring that your item reaches a new home.

Even if you can't donate or sell something, it still might be of value to someone else. And that includes worn-out clothing, scraps of material or other 'waste' items.

There are a whole range of impressive upcyclers (learn about some of Tyne and Wear's upcycling heroes here) who can take scraps and transform them into something amazing. 

Keeping it circular and returning the favour

Instead of buying new, we can help each other out just by sharing what we have. Maybe that's in the form of 'gifting' tools, lifts to work, swapping books or borrowing a beautiful dress. It may also be in the form of gifting time, skills or services, like cutting your neighbour's hedge.

Where to ‘Gift’ Items Online

Buy Nothing Project

The Buy Nothing Project claims to be "the world's biggest gift economy" where neighbours can share items with each other. 

'Gifts', 'Asks', 'Gratitudes' - that's the three things you can post in a Buy Nothing Group on Facebook or via their app. Their idea is that people give (rather than sell) items to people in their local area. We noticed there isn't one yet for Newcastle, Gateshead, or the North East more broadly on FB.

Facebook Marketplace and Facebook Groups

This is already a popular platform, and we often use it to move on furniture, antiques and vintage collectables. Be warned, some of the "FREE" listings are placeholders for sellers who are waiting for you to make offers rather than actually giving items away. 

You can also find Facebook Groups where you could put up listings to give away items to more local groups. 


Freecycle is a grassroots, nonprofit website where you can gift to users near you. Just a quick search takes you to your local town. We found a range of free stuff from French flags to toasters.


Don't throw it away, give it away! We love the simple message from this online freebie site, formed by breakaway moderators from Freecycle. Again the idea here is to find your community by searching which town is closest to you. Then you can give and take items to your desire.


You may well already be familiar with Preloved - another online platform for selling items. But you can also gift items using their free ad listings. 


Olio started as a solution for food waste, allowing users to give away surplus food. You can still gift and make use of food items near you, but you can now also list non-food products. We couldn't see many local non-food posts when we visited, though. But it's still a great option for giving away food that might otherwise go in the bin. 

A Good Thing

A Good Thing is a great way for business to donate any unwanted items to local charities. They are essentially a matchmaking service that can move on things like office furniture, IT equipment or any excess stock to charities. We love the idea and it's available across the UK. 


Have you thought about joining in with a second-hand gift swap? We recently stumbled upon Swapbox after a customer popped in and told us all about it. It sounded really up our street in terms of giving a preloved gift and so we got in touch with the founder and asked them a few questions. Click here to read it. 

 Have you used any of the platforms listed above? If so we'd love to hear what you think about them. Or maybe you'd like to recommend another platform...sharing is caring!

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