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Buy Nothing Groups Reduce Waste and Build Community

Naman Bajaj
September 20, 2023
neighbors-women-with-bags

A lot of us have a tendency to accumulate things over time, whether they are gifts, impulse purchases, or items we thought would be useful someday. However, as time passes, we often realize that these things are taking up valuable space in our homes.

For example, Halloween costumes worn only once, board games untouched for years, party decor that won't be used again, or patio furniture that no longer matches our outdoor decor.

Just because these items are no longer useful to us doesn't mean they have to end up in landfills. There might be people in our neighborhood who could use them. By passing items onto our neighbors (to keep or borrow), we build community, prevent the production of new goods, and keep perfectly functional items from being discarded in landfills.

That's where the Buy Nothing Project comes in.

What is the Buy Nothing project?

The Buy Nothing movement was started in 2013 by Rebecca Rockefeller and Liesl Clark in Bainbridge Island, Washington. It initially began as a network of Facebook groups but has now expanded to include a mobile app. 

Its purpose is to create a platform where people can give away anything for free, including furniture, clothes, food, toys, garden tools, shoes, artwork, and cleaning products. In addition, members can offer various services, such as haircuts, yoga lessons, or lawn mowing, to their neighbors.

How does a Buy Nothing group work?

Once you join Buy Nothing, you can start posting items that you would like to give away or you can ask for something that you’re in need of.

You can also browse through other posts to find something interesting. It's like a 24/7 thrift store where everything is free. However, that doesn't mean we should go on an overconsumption spree.

If you are interested in a product or service that someone has posted, you can comment on the post and continue the conversation there. Selling, buying, or swapping stuff is not allowed in the group.

If the poster has selected you to receive the product or service, you can arrange to meet at a common place or at someone's home. Buy Nothing's role is to connect people and facilitate the exchange of goods and services.

You can also ask to borrow things. Check out this list of things that you can borrow instead of buying.

How can I find a Buy Nothing group near me?

To find your local Buy Nothing group on Facebook, search “Buy Nothing” and the name of your town or neighborhood. Choose the group that’s closest to your neighborhood. Alternatively, you can use the Find a Group page on their website.

As each group is geographically limited and members are allowed to join only one group, it provides a great way to meet and befriend your neighbors. This can make it easier for the group to exchange or borrow items in the future.

If you’re not on Facebook, you can join the Buy Nothing Project app. The app tracks your location and allows you to give, receive or borrow items for free from people in your neighborhood. Pro tip: The app is relatively new, so you may find more people in your area are active on the Facebook groups.

Naman Bajaj
September 20, 2023

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