Buy Nothing Project
About a year ago, amid the pandemic, I did what many people found themselves doing – decluttering our home. As I worked to remove the excess “treasures” from the house, I stumbled on a “Buy Nothing” group on Facebook that many friends had joined. At first, I thought this was just a good alternative to hauling a carload of items to Goodwill. Over time, I realized these groups are much more than a way to get rid of things – they truly build a communityaround a gift economy.
The Buy Nothing Project was started in 2013 by a couple of friends in Bainbridge Island, WA. The mission of the project is:
We offer people a way to give and receive, share, lend, and express gratitude through a worldwide network of hyper-local gift economies in which true wealth is the web of connections formed between people who are real-life neighbors.
Personally, I have loved the process of gifting items we can no longer use. The hyper-local aspect of Buy Nothing means that you are giving to and receiving from neighbors. Over time, you get to know the people in your group and can form connections beyond gifting.
For example, a couple of months ago as we were redecorating my daughter’s bedroom, I took the opportunity to gift a comforter. The lady who accepted the gift was thrilled. She just happened to also be in the middle of a similar project. My daughter’s comforter was perfect for her daughter’s room. Over the past two months as we’ve slowly replaced several items in my daughter’s room. I have been able to reach out and offer gifts knowing that they will be used and appreciated.
One important thing to note is that Buy Nothing is not a place to buy, sell, barter or exchange goods. One of their principles is: We believe in abundance, we give, we ask, we share, we lend, and we express gratitude.
For me, it is the most fulfilling way to improve my house. I still have a couple of charities for specific types of items (for example, clothes and shoes are typically donated to a local thrift shop benefitting foster kids). Gifts can be small or large – I’ve seen gifts that range from small items such as excess herbs from their garden, and in contrast, large items such as pieces of furniture. I’ve also seen gifts of service, such as offering transportation that was vitally needed.
Choosing a Group That Works for You
Over the past year, I shifted to another group, because my original group had become too large to fit the mission of “hyper-local.” Several new groups had sprouted with smaller footprints in our city and I chose to join one of those. In addition to the benefits of entering a new community, I found homes with different needs for items.
I’ve also found these groups to be very handy for the times when we’ve had a specific need. Our fancy coffee maker went out a few months ago. I was able to very quickly find and pick-up a perfectly functional replacement while our other one was being repaired. Once the fancy one was repaired, I was able to re-gift the other one within the group to pay it forward. There are over 6,000 Buy Nothing groups around the world, so chances are there is one in your neighborhood. If you’re interested in learning more, check out their mission and principles here.
As always, we are here for you. Please email or call if you want to set up a Zoom videoconference meeting or talk by phone.
Mary McCraw, CFP®
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