FreeUp facilitates the upcycling of free used goods between New Yorkers to make the process as streamlined as possible.
Our survey shows many New Yorkers are open to or already pick up free items off sidewalks when passing by. These individuals indicated upcycling goods would be a more common occurrence if it was convenient to do so.
FreeUp aims to enable this behaviour by streamlining: 1) the process of finding goods; 2) decisions surrounding a good’s condition; and 3) logistics to acquire goods. Individuals indicated this would help them save money for various reasons and tap into the resell markets more efficiently.
If these goods are otherwise left as is, they will end up contributing to the 12,000 tons of waste NYC produces every day, most of which will be dumped in a landfill or burned and recycled into a lower quality product.
By using FreeUp, New Yorkers will be able to upcycle goods to reduce landfill trash and slowly convince more individuals to make changes that will lead to positive environmental changes.
Our preliminary user survey to validate this problem of enabling New Yorkers to upcycle used goods found that individuals would be more inclined to take items from sidewalks if they have access to relevant information. T
his stems from a lack of advertising when goods are available with key information on the location and condition of goods. There was also a need for a means to ensure goods would be available for when users can make the time to pick them up.
After completing over 5 user interviews, we found that a website is a meaningful way for users to conveniently upcycle used goods.
In addition to addressing the pain points above, the website should allow users to access and explore all available goods and even add any items they would like to give away.
Based on our target users’ pain points as well as market research, we knew we wanted to work on the following features: location proximity, discoverability with filtering and categories, communication through a chat system, safety and urgency by visually highlighting the availability of an item.
After synthesising the usability testing results we found some common insights with users. We learned that the filtering option needed to be more detailed with the addition of having categories and pickup type enabled.
To meet those needs the filtering was updated as well as more functional with a reset button added. Users also cited that the review stars highlighted next to a poster's name didn’t give enough context on what that meant.
To keep in line with the issue of trust and safety member information highlighting their membership date was implemented while taking off the star rating icons.
FreeUp is a web application, built on the PERN stack. The backend is hosted on Heroku and the frontend is hosted on Netlify.
We utilised Node.js and Express as a backend server and PostgreSQL as our database. Additionally, we used Knex.js to simplify schema design and seed the database with data to test with. Our frontend is powered by React along with the Material UI library for components.
We were proud to have accomplished many features in our current iteration of the application. Currently, users can: create new accounts and log in, create a listing, view all listings, view specific listing details, comment on a listing, and message another user.
What was the hardest part of development?
We will be continuing the project to iterate upon our MVP and grow FreeUp into a more advanced product. We will continue to clean and polish the website while also implementing more user stories (i.e. user credibility, map features, creating a mobile app, etc.). We hope our product will be able to partner with thrift stores, non-profits, scrappers, and other organisations to further increase upcycling/resell movements in NYC.