Buy Nothing – A critical group for a greener future

As I walk down the grocery aisle, I select baby food in glass jars for my daughter’s breakfasts. I select them not for their high recyclability, but because a neighbor in my Buy Nothing group has requested glass baby food jars for Christmas crafts.

With the uncertainty of today’s recycling market, I feel better when single use packaging has an exit plan before I buy it. Buy Nothing gave me that opportunity, but that’s not all it does.

Buy Nothing are hyper local groups with the goal of creating a gifting economy. On Buy Nothing, you offer up items and services to other people in your community for free–no strings attached. You can choose anyone you like to come and pick it up, and they can do what ever they like with it once they get it.

You can also ask for specific items if you need it, such as the baby food jars the lady asked for. If you happen to have the item and want to share it, you can let them know in the comments.

Groups like this are a boon for the environment. Instead of tossing your children’s outgrown clothing into the trash, you can offer it to someone with smaller children who would view it as a treasure. Did you upgrade your fridge and the current one still works? Offer it on Buy Nothing and save someone both the cost of purchasing a new fridge and the waste of it hitting the dump.

During a recent clean out, we decided to get rid of everything in our home that we hadn’t used in two years, even if we’d been making excuses for the item before. We put everything that was still in usable condition on Buy Nothing, and all of the items were picked up with amazement and delight.

It’s amazing to me that someone else would even want my son’s old coat, but for those who have a lot of kids that coat can be a boon. Your mismatched towels? Someone owns a dog grooming shop, volunteers at a dog shelter, or gathers them up for a veterinary office, all of which desperately need those towels.

It also helps you source needed items second hand, helping you lower your carbon footprint. Anything we can do to help lower our carbon footprint is critical to help saving our planet, and Buy Nothing is a great tool to get that done.

Ready to start? Here’s what you need to know

Buy Nothing is a hyper local group you can find on Facebook. To find your chapter, type in your city as well as “buy nothing” for example, “Buy Nothing Seattle.” In large areas, you can expect to be referred to your specific sub section. Most sections are just a few miles apart, with the idea that the sharing is between neighbors.

Buy Nothing has a set of guidelines for gifting. When you are giving away an item, you have to do so no strings attached. That means you can’t ungift it later, ask that it be returned to you, or add any of your own rules. Once they have it, they can do what ever they want with it.

You can choose who ever you want a gift to go to. You do not have to pick the first person. People will comment asking for you to consider them if they’re interested in the item.

When asking, remember that you can’t force someone to pick you, offer them money for the item, or beg for things. If you don’t get an item and wanted it, you might consider putting up an “In Search Of” post of your own and ask if someone else has a similar item they’d be willing to give.

There’s nothing to lose when you sign up for Buy Nothing. If you’ve been looking for a nice way to meet your neighbors, and make sure your items last as long as possible before they have to be thrown away, this is a great community to use.

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