Have you heard of “The Buy Nothing project”? It’s a hyper-local gift-giving community that focuses on generosity, gratitude, and community through local facebook groups. I was bummed to learn that there was not a group in my Zionsville neighborhood, as I loved my local Buy Nothing group in Los Angeles. So I recently went through the admin training and started one for our community. Our group is a new group but it is already booming and I’m loving the sense of community I feel from it already. So what does it look like? What do you do in a Buy Nothing group?
In this group, you can give freely in any way you wish. You can give something you no longer have use for and would otherwise be trash like old fabric scraps, a bunch of old Sephora samples, or even leftover cake from your office birthday party. You can your give time, a talent, or maybe something you would’ve normally sold but you want to give back to your community. You can also request something you need or want-you’d be surprised how willing people are willing to help if they can. In my Los Angeles neighborhood, I was the recipient of many wonderful gifts like Halloween costumes, an activity table for my son, and even a juicer. The generosity sparked something in me and I loved gifting things from our home because it just felt good and I loved seeing neighbors get excited about something I could give.
Mari Kondo’s Netflix special garnered a lot of attention a few months ago as Americans realized how much stuff we have in our homes. Kondo’s most famous question is, “Does this item spark joy?” and if the answer is no, you thank the item and send it on its merry little way (most likely to goodwill which has seen a 30% increase in donations since the special aired). But what if those garden gnomes sparked joy for your neighbor? What if the family down the road could experience some joy with those old action figures your son no longer uses? Wouldn’t it be amazing to not only clean out your house but see your trash become someone else’s treasure? I have to say I love seeing that the items that no longer serve me can be of use to someone in my community.
And let’s talk about the environmental impact of these groups while we are at it! So many items we throw away can be reused or repurposed instead of sitting in a landfill. For example, there was once a “Happy Birthday” balloon banner that floated (pun intended) around my LA group at least 20 times! Think of all the food we waste when we overbuy for a party or when we have a Costco sized bag of dried apple doodles our kids loved last week but now they detest. When we share, loan, or give with each other we are making a direct impact on the environment and the amount of waste we are creating.
So yes, while it is awesome to get a bunch of cool stuff and also find a home for your unused items- the sense of community is really at the core of this experience. Americans, on the whole, have become increasingly isolated from our neighbors and community. I mean I know I’d rather drive 5 minutes down the road to buy some more sugar then go knock on my neighbor’s door. But I think we all want more connection with each other and we want to feel like we contribute to our community. These Buy Nothing groups will not transform your neighborhood overnight but I do believe they can create small seeds of change that can build abundant and grateful self-sustaining communities.
To find your local Buy Nothing Group: https://buynothingproject.org/find-a-group/
Start a group: https://buynothingproject.org/start-a-group/
More about the Buy Nothing Project: https://buynothingproject.org/about/