PeekUp: In Berlin, a Fleet of Cargo Bikes Wants to Help You Declutter Your Life

The Berlin startup PeekUp is here to pick up your clutter in a convenient and eco-friendly way - via a cargo bike service that travels right to your door.

Author Leonie Asendorpf:

Translation Leonie Asendorpf, 11.26.20

We all have stuff that we don’t need in anymore – piling up at the back of cupboards, storerooms and in our basements. Books, unworn clothes, broken furniture, toys, old kitchen equipment, or just boxes full of odds and ends. But as long as it all fits on a cargo bike, the co-founder of PeekUp, Martin Rammensee, and his colleague Dmitry Boguslavskyy, will take it off your hands for you. This new service solves the problem of what to do with all your unwanted stuff after a decluttering session – and it’s simple, smart and sustainable.

The PeekUp team do what they can to recycle the items they pick up whenever they can, i.e. by selling or donating them. If they’re not able to be reused again, Martin and Dmitry will take them to be disposed of in an environmentally friendly way. Old refrigerators are taken to the recycling centre, old clothes to the Red Cross clothing container and old documents to waste paper recycling. The whole service is organised on the digital PeekUp platform. Customers pay nine euros per collection and can choose which day they want the pick-up (or “PeekUp”) to happen. You can also choose for your things to be picked up on a day when you’re not at home, and leave the items in front of your door instead.

The two came up with the idea over a coffee in October 2020. Once they had set up the website and started advertising on Facebook, they received their first inquiries the very next day. Since then, they’ve been contacted by new people practically every day. Within the first five weeks Martin and Dmitry booked 26 “PeekUps”. “Nowadays you can order anything you can think of from anywhere in the world via Amazon and receive it in your home within hours or a few days. But if you have a box full of stuff that you want to get rid of in a convenient and environmentally friendly way, it’s not so easy“, Martin explained to RESET.

Many of PeekUp’s customers said that they were “too lazy” or that they didn’t have time to dispose of the stuff in the proper way. One customer simply said “I hate cars!” when their things were picked up by cargo bike. In Berlin, a city where you can get anywhere without a car, trips to the recycling centre or when buying lots of heavy items – like drinks for a party – are still the only excuses to use a car, at least according to Martin. But now with beverage delivery services and projects like PeekUp, it’s becoming increasingly easy to live (in the city) without owning your own car. It can also be liberating to get rid of old things, says Martin. “Everything you own is a form of commitment. That’s why I try to own as few things as possible.”

The team uses different cargo bikes depending on what is to be picked up. So far Martin and Dmitry are storing the items they pick up in a private basement space. Soon, however, they’ll start being able to store them in a small warehouse rented from the Deutsche Bahn until they are to be given away, sold or recycled.  

In the future, Martin and Dmitry would like to make the project even bigger. They’ll be hiring more people to be able to make even more trips. And while the service is currently only available in Berlin, they hope that in the long term, they’ll be able to bring it to other cities too.

The cargo bikes used for the PeekUps come from a company called Cargobike. If you want to test ride, rent or buy a cargo bike yourself and don’t know where the next rental or sales point is, you will quickly find it on their handy map.

This is a translation of an original article that first appeared on RESET’s German-language site.

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