Saturday Sep 06, 2008

Freecycle Economics

It took all of 24 hours for me to become a fan of freecycle. I have been moving a four by five foot plate glass mirror around my basement, cautiously leaning, bracing and sliding it so that it doesn't give me personal experience in massive sharding. Now that the bathroom originally intended to house the mirror has been re-sheetrocked and re-trimmed, I think I like my framed, replacement mirror better. As soon as decided I didn't want the remaindered construction material, I wanted to find it a home other than the bulk trash pick up. I joined the local freecycle community on Thursday night, posted an offer for the mirror on Friday and today, someone came and picked it up to hopefully put it to good use.

The bottom line is that if you make something easy and fast enough, people will do it without weighing opportunity cost versus other financial returns: While I could have sold the mirror via craigslist, it would have taken at least a week, and I would have ended up haggling over price until I could mentally justify selling it for a fraction of what it cost. Easier just to think that something of no immediate value (or worse, negative value if I moved it one too many times) is useful to someone else. Freecycling the bulk item is a good reflection on new consumer and I hope on my investment of a total of fifteen minutes. Now that I've done it once, I'm tempted to become a repeat freecycler. That's what makes barter economics work.

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Hal Stern's thoughts on software, services, cloud computing, security, privacy, and data management

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