The Benefits of Free

By Rachel Revelle

Receycle-300x225It must be a healthy sign about your current environment when you regularly stumble across new ideas or opportunities that intrigue you. I’m not sure there’s any better place for such run-ins than at a university. My current discovery: the Duke Free Store. A partnership between Students for Sustainable Living and Duke Recycles, DukeToday describes the free store as a “bimonthly swap-meet style event” where items are “freecycled.” You can drop things off, pick things up, or both, with almost no stipulations (just leave the “potentially dangerous, alive or illegal” items at home please!).

With environmental concerns weighing on us in ways that can seem daunting, I think we can get a real psychological boost from small, tangible efforts like a commitment to recycling. And don’t let the perfect be the enemy of the good – every small item that we throw into the trash thinking it is not going to make a difference adds up to a lot more trash! In the case of the Duke Free Store, not only do we benefit psychologically and societally from the effort at sustainability, but also from a positive sense of human connection. Kenan Senior Fellow and behavioral economist Dan Ariely has lots of interesting things to say about both the act of giving, and the alluring force of that thrilling little word, FREE!