By Jessica Wee

Let’s talk about saving money, reducing clutter and reducing waste!

The Buy Nothing Project is a global conglomeration of community-based groups, founded in Washington, United States in 2013 by 2 friends. The idea was that instead of bartering or offering gifts with strings attached, you would just give away stuff you don’t want to people in your community who might be able to use it. And what do you get in return? Hopefully a nice thank you. 

It encourages giving (or recycling) of consumer goods and services in preference to conventional commerce. Its objective is to “set the scarcity model of our cash economy aside in favor of creatively and collaboratively sharing the abundance around us”. Does that sound appealing to you?

Think of it like the ultimate spending diet: buying nothing. If you haven’t heard of the concept, it’s spreading with Buy Nothing groups popping up throughout the world. Thank the Buy Nothing Project, a nonprofit organization with chapters now in 44 countries with more than 6,500 communities and growing.

Within Buy Nothing groups, members offer up everything from baby gear to furniture, but it’s not always about “stuff.” Sometimes people give or receive expertise. For example, some members can offer to gift one hour of their time to advise someone on a specific skill set i.e. gardening/ cooking/ financial planning. These are all done without the intention of receiving monetary gain.

Some groups even offer their sourdough starter and suddenly, the whole community had the ability to bake their own bread weekly which led to savings!

Where Can I Find Buy Nothing Groups Near Me?

The Buy Nothing Project provides links to Facebook groups in states, cities and sometimes neighborhoods. Most Buy Nothing groups are on Facebook which you can search. 

How Buy Nothing Works

After you join a local group, you can ask for things you want or need or offer things you would like to give away – or a bit of both. You can also lend items to people in your community.

Saying “thanks” is the main payment for getting free stuff, so be sure to make it clear to the giver that you appreciate what you’re receiving.

The Buy Nothing Project encourages local communities to focus on improving the community in which they live and keep groups small and local to minimise distance travelled to pick up items. 

Here are some of the main reasons to join a group:

  1. Save money and live better 
  2. Save Mother Earth by reducing your carbon footprint
  3. Feel good about giving
  4. Declutter your home – Marie Kondo would approve!
  5. Get to know your community members
  6. Practice gratitude by being polite to community members and saying ‘thank you’

Have you checked out your local Buy Nothing Project on Facebook? If you can’t find a Buy Nothing group in your community, challenge yourself to build one. Get inspired here


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