The Buy Nothing Project & the Gifting Economy

Buy Nothing. Give Freely. Share Creatively.

Buy Nothing Project

On February 22nd I hosted my second ever “gifting event” for clothes and accessories as part of my local Buy Nothing group. The event was sort of like a swap meet but without the requirement to bring anything. Guests simply showed up and picked out whatever they liked for free.

What is the Buy Nothing Project?

From the Buy Nothing Project About page: “The Buy Nothing Project is about setting the scarcity model of our cash economy aside in favor of creatively and collaboratively sharing the abundance around us.” Essentially, you join your closest local group via Facebook Groups, you create a post in which you either ask for a gift (gift of time, talent, item, etc.) or offer a gift, and then make arrangements with the gifting or receiving party to make good on the offer. As my group admins always say:

“There is no ask too big or too small.”

The interest for this event was great. Who doesn’t like free stuff?! However, we ended up with sooooo much left over. Everything that was left was sent to a few different donation centers by members who volunteered. One member, V.T., dropped most of the items off at Bella’s Voice, which has a thrift store and “is a nonprofit focused on animal welfare.” I had an extra cat carrier that we donated as well. One to two bags went to a different member who wasn’t able to attend and said she’d sort through for items to keep, then donate the rest to Goodwill.

Benefits of a Buy Nothing group

If you’re looking for a way to make new connections, meet your neighbors, share your bounty, save money, minimize your waste, declutter & create space, then a Buy Nothing group is what you’re looking for.

Several months ago, I posted this ask in my group:

Well, I did end up losing about 25-30 lbs (yay!), mainly because of health issues that cropped up (boo!), but I also found a walking buddy thanks to that post. Aimee and I have been meeting up regularly and it’s been great for getting Ivy and me out of the house and staying active. Aimee has been one of my greatest connections thus far from this group. On our walks we chat and vent about our lives, the good and the bad. We explore and discover many different parks and places near us. We’ve also been able to help each other in other ways–I dogsat for her; she accompanied me to a doctor’s appointment to help keep an eye on Ivy. Lately, we’ve been connecting with other moms with toddlers close in age with Ivy for playdates.

Since losing all that weight, one of my main reasons for hosting this gifting event was both to give away clothing that no longer fit me and to find new pieces, therefore saving some money. And since we no longer have to wear the company polo, I can enjoy dressing up for work again! It’s a win-win for me. Another reason was to help out my group members and help divert their excess stuff from the landfill, which helps to reduce the waste that might end up in the trash. One of the main items I see being gifted or asked for is clothing, so I thought this would help those who wanted to gift or receive a large number of items in one trip.

Over the past few years, I’ve tried to be conscious of my spending habits. Joining my local Buy Nothing group helps me save money by not spending it if I don’t have to. It’s so easy to simply purchase a new item in person or online. However, there are already so many things out there that get very little use and take up space in our homes. Many of us end up donating what we no longer need. So if we’re already giving it away for free to be re-sold to strangers, why not give it away to someone in need that you can form a connection with? A neighbor? When I was younger, I would purchase around $100-$200 worth of clothes almost monthly. It was trendy, inexpensive clothing that didn’t last very long or I got bored with it quickly and then passed on to my sisters. What a waste of money!

Nowadays, I hardly shop at all. In fact, I really hate shopping–even online. It’s just not appealing to me. My old-fashioned self likes to see and feel items before I buy them. Clutter also makes me feel stressed, so I tend to stop and really think about whether I need an item or just feel a want for an item. Will it be used and useful? The best way to avoid clutter is to not bring it into your home or space in the first place.

Growing your clutter is quick and easy, while decluttering can take a long time and be stressful.

Thanks to my Buy Nothing group I’ve benefited greatly in many ways. From receiving items I’ve needed, or decluttering and giving things away, to making new friends and feeling motivated to stay active. Hosting and planning the gifting event felt like a good way to give back, to show gratitude, and perhaps inspire other members to try and host their own events.

I hope this post motivates you to join the movement and enjoy all its benefits. <3