Way back when (in the early 2000s,) I loved Freecycle. It was fun and I felt so good not adding to waste. Then, we moved to Germany and I lost touch with it. Like Craig’s List, Freecycle forum doesn’t seem as popular anymore.
The “Buy Nothing Project” began in 2013 and local groups have gained popularity recently around the globe. People struggling financially or for lack of community have flocked to assist others in a gift economy. Not everything has to be a transactional relationship.
If we all bought less and shared more, we would save money and reduce the amount of waste going to landfills or washing up on our shores. Reduce, Reuse, Recycle…and Refuse.Liesl Clark, Buy Nothing Project
Since the original creators of the Buy Nothing movement recently have created an app with lots of paywalls and tricks to find a local group, my geographic group has split from them and renamed our Facebook group. Because the truth is, most of us are on Facebook and it’s just easier for us to comment, tag, and send messages through that program than to fight with an app that is less than user-friendly. And of course they wrote a book and have a podcast. But I get it. Everything grows and sometimes gets out of hand, too big for two people to maintain. The app is surely progress, but we have chosen to be unaffiliated.
The founders created some rules:
- No buying or selling.
- No trading or bartering.
- No strings attached.
- No hate speech.
- Nothing illegal. So no firearms, drugs, prescription medications, or expired goods, including car seats or cribs not up to current standards.
- No judgment. Every gift has equal value. Every giver and asker have equal value.
- No penalties. If you loan something, you have to be OK with the possibility that it might get damaged.
- No double-dipping. You can only join one group. To be admitted, you have to live in that community.
I love to see it. It’s beautiful. It’s not even a barter system. It’s just donating, lending, and sharing with neighbors. Gratitude in action.
I love how different the Buy Nothing concept is than Buy/Sell/Trade pages and groups.
I feel fortunate to be able to donate generously than having to sell items to make ends meet. Because I have certainly been there and it was stressful.
I respect anyone who needs to sell items, but we also can specify if items we are gifting can be resold or not. I do get irritated by resellers who jack up prices on secondhand items as their job or hobby. I don’t care much for Marketplace and all the scammers who prey on people selling and seeking.
Subgroups are awesome too! We also have a Community Chat group for our greater area that encompasses a much larger geographic area. This ensures we can reach a larger audience if we have attempted a gift or ask with no response or if we have a question or concern for the larger community. Sometimes, members post challenges to help us declutter or do something fun for each other. It’s endearing to see how the community comes together to help people whose homes are devastated by fire or offering to outfit a new mother whose partner suddenly left her. It’s so lovely to see people helping others.
What can you expect to find in a gift economy group?
I have seen incredible items gifted and asked for. I am constantly amazed and surprised by what people so generously gift. And I never thought to ask for things that I know I might use once and never look at again.
Baking pans to borrow for a single occasion.
Kids hand-me-downs. These are so expensive and I love to see them used and reused and loved!
Vitamins and supplements tried and disliked.
Foods opened and used for a single recipe. It’s lovely to offer to someone instead of throwing out or letting it sit in the fridge or pantry for months until it is indeed thrown away.
Lawn equipment to borrow or keep.
Winter gear to borrow or keep.
Regifting gifts received that didn’t work or were received from holidays.
Incorrect orders of really nice brand new items that are a hassle to return.
Broken electronics or lawn equipment for fixing up or taking apart and learning about. This was so neat to see!
Leftover alcohol from a party or a flavor they didn’t like. For safety and legal reasons, these are always handed to a person who shows ID.
Coupons and gift cards!
Last minute supplies for a school project.
Gardening items – even live plants! I have scored a ton of houseplants and hostas and lilies this way.
Our group does Round Robins for puzzles, books, purses, seeds, and more!
Gifting with Gratitude
Take a clear photo of an item and post it.
Facebook algorithms cannot handle multiple photos in a post, so additional photos can be placed as comments to the original post.
Honest descriptions are important. I try to post the true description and how old an item is. I post that we have cats in case someone has an allergy. Posting sizes for clothing or an item beside a common thing like a water bottle is nice.
Some people make it fun and ask for a favorite recipe or funny story in the comments or what is the person going to use the item for?
Once choosing a recipient, only then may the chosen person private message about it. If the person doesn’t respond within 24 hours, then choosing another recipient is reasonable.
I’ve seen gifts of time or people offering to pickup items for neighbors, friends, and family members. I love the people who offer to take things off your hands if you want to gift it but don’t have time or energy to sort and post it.
It really is a community.
If I see an item I want up for a gift, I comment that I would like the item for me, or one of my kids, or my husband, sometimes why, and when I might be able to pick up the item.
There is no guarantee that commenting first or being able to pickup anytime will get me the item.
Some very popular and generous gifts are raffled off randomly either with a spinner app or names/numbers in a hat.
We do tend to see the same names come up a lot. We’re a fairly small group and I love to recognize people whom I may not really know in real life. Because we homeschool, my kids don’t participate in anything and we stay home a lot.
Certain people seem to get a reputation as being the plant lover or dog rehabber or foster parent. Some people are pickers and gather items off the roadside to regift so as to keep things out of the landfill.
Once chosen for an item, only then may a recipient private message about it, and in a timely manner, or it might go to another recipient.
I love how people ask for help or for an item to try or borrow, or something specific they realize they want or need. I’m not comfortable with doing that, but I love that others are! It truly shows how we are growing in community and helping each other when we can feel safe to ask and receive help.
Each week, one of the moderators of our group posts a tip to help us be kind or informed, based on the original rules or issues that have arisen in our group or community.
Each week, one of the moderators of our group posts an image for a thread of asks that we can look over and see if we can meet anyone’s requests. It’s lovely to see these needs being met every week!
Each week, one of the moderators of our group posts an image for a thread where we can express gratitude over a specific gift or situation that has helped us in any way. It’s just gorgeous to see all the blessings!
Archiving chats: in Facebook Messenger, instead of deleting chats after gifting or receiving, ARCHIVING is a great way to maintain the communication without clogging up my Messenger app. I can go back into the chat window history for addresses and gifts/receipts. Super helpful for when I find the charging cord that went with the thing or the 3rd book in the series I gifted last week.
Including the item in a message is helpful. Sometimes I gift or ask for several items in a week, so it helps for everyone to keep things straight. Something simple, like “Thanks for the blue shirt, I can come anytime tomorrow.”
Communication is great! Things happen. Let people know if you are running late or have some conflict with pickup. Letting people know you got the item is helpful too.
We are still in a pandemic, and lots of people are trying very hard to stay well, so please be kind and let people know if you or someone in your household is sick or has been exposed to someone is sick.
When gifting items, I usually leave them in grocery bags on my front porch. If there’s wind or precipitation, I place them inside a Rubbermaid bin. I attach sticky notes or cards to the bags with the recipient’s name. For larger items, it’s easier to set up a time window or even interact and help them load it into their car.
I love our local gift economy group.
I have enjoyed being generous in donating some of our items we no longer need, want, or use – clothes, books, décor, plant starts, craft supplies, our old TV and surround sound system, a water dispenser when we got a whole house system.
I have been gifted some amazing things! Homemade afghan and pot holders, vintage décor, holiday items, Indiana glass bowl, clothes, plants, furniture. I even scored a treadmill!
It’s such a great way to keep things out of landfills and into the hands of members of our community who really want or need it.
Linking up: Eclectic Red Barn, Pinch of Joy, House on Silverado, Suburbia, Random Musings, April Harris, Ridge Haven, Pam’s Party, Mostly Blogging, Create with Joy, Grammy’s Grid, Growing Garden, Jenerally Informed, InstaEncouragements, LouLou Girls, Fluster Buster, Life Abundant, Penny’s Passion, Try it Like it, Soaring with Him, Slices of Life, Artful Mom, Modern on Monticello, Pam’s Party, Answer is Chocolate, Momfessionals, Lisa Notes, CWJ, Imparting Grace,