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Blurring the boundaries: Prosumption, circularity and online sustainable consumption through Freecycle

Journal of Consumer Culture

Published online on


This article explores the digital exchange and moral ordering of sustainable and ethical consumption in online Freecycle groups. Through interactive exchanges in digital (online posts) and material (consumer items) modes, Freecycling blurs three common binaries in analyses of consumption: (1) consumption/production, (2) digital/material and (3) mainstream/alternative. Drawing on Ritzer’s notion of ‘implosions’ as well as practice theory, I show that Freecycling practices reimagine and reproduce both products and consumers, practising prosumption through mixed digital and material practices in a performative economy, and how mainstream and alternative ways of consuming are entangled in pursuit of more sustainable, ethical consumption. This challenges us to think beyond these traditional binaries and to conceptualise a more blurred, less analytically clean and more circular approach to studying consumption.