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Case Study: Giving and Receiving on Freecycle.org Essay

Freecycle. org or as nicknamed by users, “Freebay” is a great way for individuals to give away items that they no longer want. It is very apparent that this website has achieved such high levels of success and growth in such a short period of time, due to the fact that they are different from all other sites. Everyone has become accustomed to a world where nothing is free. Human beings are used to to having to pay for anything they receive. Most people are even leery of the fact of receiving something for free.

The common question behind something being given away for free is “what’s the catch? The same is true for websites. As consumers, we are programmed to believe that when signing up for a website, that there must be some fee involved. Even if there is no membership fee, consumers use the various websites to make purchases. Freecycle. org is successful because it breaks the mold of what consumers are used to. It is very similar to an online Goodwill. Many people tend to take time at various times throughout the year to clean out closets, garages, etc. to get rid of items that are no longer useful to them. But in this case, people really have no idea who is actually receiving the items they are giving away.

Freecyle. org actually provides the warm feeling of providing someone with something they actually want or need. Upon reviewing the website, the homepage shows their slogan, “changing the world one gift at a time”. The fact of thinking of something as a gift automatically draws people in. From there, the website asks for your location, to find a group near you, which in turn takes users to a site that shows all the items that are either wanted or being offered. The locations vary across the country, providing an opportunity for just about everyone to be able to give and receive.

Items include old cell phones, Christmas trees, clothes and books, to name a few. These are common household items that one person may think of as junk, but someone else may see it as the best gift they could possibly receive; especially for free. For these reasons, it is no surprise that Freecycle. org has seen such great successes. It provides an easy means for users to not only get rid of items they don’t want, but also provide something to someone else that wants the item; letting that person know that the item is being put to use as opposed to being thrown away.

Freecycle. org can affect the purchase habits of consumers in many ways. Instead of consumers going out buying items brand new, they now have the option to receive something they want for free. This site offers many of the same benefits as eBay, which also impacts many consumers shopping and purchasing habits. First of all, many people prefer the luxury of shopping on their computers vs. actually going out dealing with the hustle and bustle of shopping in stores. Secondly, such websites provide consumers with opportunity to see many variations of a certain product.

While one person may be trying to get rid of a basic cell phone, someone else may be offering a high-tech cell phone with all preloaded features. Each of these particular products will meet a different consumers’ need. Further, such websites as Freecycle. org removes the feeling of consumer dissatisfaction with a product. When someone knows they have gotten something for free, it is very difficult to become overly concerned about whether it is completely functional or not. For some, as long as something works and does what they want it to do, they are completely satisfied.

Lastly, Freecycle. org can affect purchase habits by helping consumers save money, while still reaping the benefits of getting what they want or to satisfy certain needs. According to Personal-Development. com, about 28 million Americans are addicted to shopping. People overextend themselves, and overspend to satisfy a certain “rush” that shopping gives them. This is either due to advertisements seen on television, internet shopping availability or people use shopping as a form of recreation.

This particular website actually refers people to various free sites, including Freecycle. rg. This site provides shoppers another means for purchasing items, without spending money. Therefore, by providing another means for people to receive products, their purchasing habits may change. Other businesses and websites such as eBay, could possibly benefit from the freecycling business. Many Americans are actually in full support of “going green”, but not everyone does it; presumably because they either don’t think about it or because there aren’t enough businesses supporting it. This is especially true when it comes to making purchases.

As previously stated, consumers are accustomed to having to spend money to receive items in return. So, the concept of giving things away and receiving things for free do not necessarily resonate easily, without reminders. Furthermore, consumers may not realize just how wasteful they really are and how they could actually help save the society by giving things away, instead of throwing them in the trash. In 2010, AOL News provided an article called, “Many Americans Believe in Going Green; Fewer Actually Do It”.

The article discusses how a survey was conducted at Yale University and George Mason University, showing that Americans feel it’s important to conserve energy and help the environment, but they just aren’t doing it. This demonstrates not only the lack of action of those supposedly in support of “going green” and recycling, but also the fact that businesses need to help motivate consumers to give more things away. Many companies may be afraid that they may not make a profit.

However, sites such as eBay can create separate sections on their websites for buying and selling, and for recycled products for free. This would not only help eBay and those consumers selling products to continue making profits, but they would also be motivating consumers to participate in helping to save the environment, and eliminate waste. Consumers need more reminders of how they can help conserve energy and waste, because in most cases, they simply don’t realize the impact throwing things in the garbage has on the environment.


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