Still looking for a New Year’s resolution? Join a Buy Nothing group! The Buy Nothing Project has really taken off with thousands of local groups popping up in over 30 countries. The project started as a social experiment on an island off the coast of Seattle and has grown widely in recent years. The idea is simple, community members post items they would like to get rid of and people can repurpose those items absolutely free.
I joined one in my hometown a while back and really appreciate this group as a sustainable way to reuse local items. I have enjoyed connecting with neighbors in this meaningful way. There are many heart-warming posts of people helping others in need by gifting items that they could not otherwise afford. The site helps to normalize re-gifting, alternative gift-giving, and making holidays more about buying “new junk” (aka things that are manufactured just to eventually end up in a landfill). It also encourages people to ask for help when needed with ISO (in search of) posts and helps to remove the stigma of doing so. It has brought me a great deal of joy to share items that my kids have outgrown, knowing that other children will enjoy them. I have also gained some valuable treasures for myself and my kids a long the way! Gratitude Posts also help foster appreciation and paying it forward whenever possible. Contact-free porch pick-ups have helped make this practice safe during the pandemic. All in all the group just feels soooooo darn good in so many ways!!
However, like all things in life these groups are not free of controversy. The one “rule” is to keep the groups among neighbors who live in the same geographic area. But “many modern neighborhood boundaries were originally mapped to establish and maintain a variety of injustices, including racism and socio-economic stratification“. As Buy Nothing Groups align with these boundaries they have amplified these injustices.
2020 was a year where many truths seemed to be exposed, or re-exposed to the public eye like never before. On our quest to improve equality, I am hopeful that groups like these can actually be used to counteract systemic racism and social injustice.
With all the craziness that went down in 2020, I’m not the only one who feels like Buy Nothing Groups are what humanity needs right now. Let’s turn a new page to 2021. Happy New Year!!