Avoiding the Dump: Exploring Motivations and Barriers to Freecycling in the UK

Alison Hulme, University of Northampton

Award Amount: $500


The UK is reaching a critical point in its landfill capacity, with any further increases in the levels of municipal waste having potentially dire consequences for the environment. Government policy has focused on attempting to encourage responsible usage of municipal waste sites (‘dumps’). Yet levels of waste being brought to the dump and thus entering landfill have remained more or less consistent, making this issue an urgent one that requires alterative thinking and strategies. Policy remains stoically focused on ‘responsible’ consumption and disposal (i.e. consumption of new products that is therefore part of the mainstream economy and disposal of those products in a way that removes them completely from the economy) as opposed to more pro-environmental consumption alternatives such as sites like Freecycle. By analysing Freecycle activity levels and members' attitudes, alongside municipal dump usage, this project seeks to explain patterns of behaviour in disposing of belongings in three very different geographical settings. These patterns in turn can inform local authorities and national government of where/what type of area, and how, strategies that made use of Freecycle and similar sites could be employed to reduce the reliance on dump sites and therefore landfill.

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