Give-away shop

give away shop

Are you looking for clothes, books, toys, pans or just something new to use? You could give it a try at a give-away shop, sometimes also simply called free shop. That's not a store in the traditional meaning, but a place to find free stuff.

All second hand stuff you can find there, clothing, books, toys, a computer or a ladle, it's all for free! There are quite some useful things at times, give-away shops aspire to be an alternative to the throw-away economy.

In the Netherlands you can find a long overview of give-away shops at

There's also a very incomplete list at


These freeshops are run by volunteers. Don't expect professional service. Be grateful they're doing this.

Don't be shy but don't take stuff you are not going to use.

Give-away shops can be a great place to find gifts for anniversaries and such. Presents are often discarded by the receiver, but if the present was already discarded before there is no real extra pollution in this case.

Starting your own give-away shop

It's easier than you think. You mainly need a space to put stuff and a somewhat regular presence.

  • It's useful to have regular hours but if it's a location where people are generally hanging out anyway, you can be open anytime someone you know and trust is around.
  • Once your store is full you have to put a limit on what you're accepting.
  • Only good books are taken. Put books that have been around for a long time with the paper trash.
  • Advertise your give-away shop in local and global places. Check the links on this page. Also feel free to let us know about it and we'll mention it on
  • Have some used plastic bags around for people who want to take more than they can carry in their hands.

If you don't have a lot of space available you could also set up a smaller scale gift box. This is great if you're involved in hospitality exchange networks such as BeWelcome.

Really really free markets

Temporary free markets are called Really really free markets. These are usually one evening or afternoon in a public space.


Dumpster diving can be quite cool. It's not just for free food, but also for stuff, especially clothes. Imagine the cool parties you can throw when you have piles of discarded clothes. This is what I was thinking a while ago. So we reserved a space in our home and baptised it Boutique Trash Chic, our own little semi-private in-house free shop. Here are some blasts from the past, when I actually started a website around this idea:

Great locations for a give-away shop, nook or box:

  • at home, if you have a lot of friends come over all the time, or you're hosting travellers
  • at the entrance of your building, if you live with many other people. Many buildings in Berlin are very suitable for this.
  • at bars
  • hostels
  • schools

Free/flea market in Brussels

Submitted by guaka on Sun, 07/18/2010 - 21:53

Today we went to the flea market in Brussels. It's best if you go there when it's over. We already found some nice clothes in the street before arriving there. We were a bit too early so we walked to the food market at the South Station (Midi) - where Seung Ho and I stayed a bit longer to dumpster dive some nice fruit, vegetables and potatoes. This time not as much as we used to dive, but the hot weather probably plays a role in that. Erga and Cansu walked back to the flea market where we found them smiling with the many many clothes and other stuff they had found.

Wedding Trash - and designated clothing trash

Submitted by guaka on Tue, 07/27/2010 - 00:44

Last Saturday we hitchhiked back from Zaventem after dropping a friend at the airport (with 51.7 kg check-in luggage). Naturally Erga couldn't > resist checking out the local trash of clothes next to the determined clothing trash box. Erga quickly found a bunch of clothes, but the best was a fancy black dress, just waiting for someone to fit.

Of course we arrived home to find out our room mate Filip was heading to a wedding with his sister Kristien.

I think it's good there are special containers for clothes, but I think it's nicer if we can take some of those and give them to friends instead of not being sure about what happens with these clothes. I've seen piles of similar clothes in Mali on the market. Please add links here to stories about what actually happens to clothes in these boxes.

Dumpster Diving Tips

tips for dumpster diving

There's enough food for everyone, but a lot of food is chucked. Stores, consumers and producers simply dump a lot of good food! You can find this food by checking the bins you find outside of stores. Dumpster diving can also be a lot of fun!