We can’t seem to live without it. Over the decades, Americans have mastered the art of owning stuff. We even have stuff for our stuff. Heck, we even have stuff that stores the stuff for our stuff, all stuffed into a storage unit. It’s ridiculous.
Now, I’m not trying to bash the use of stuff. Stuff can be useful. It entertains, assists, satisfies our aesthetic needs and can even solve problems. Stuff is pretty great. But for some reason, we can’t seem to find a good way to deal with it once it has outlived its usefulness. We either try to sell it, throw it away, or store it FOREVER. All pretty lame solutions.*
Luckily, the internet (once again) has provided an avenue to help us get out of the endless cycle of buying more crap just to store it for 30 years.
Enter: The Buy Nothing Project
The title is pretty self-explanatory. The Buy Nothing Project is part of the “gift economy”, and exists to connect local neighborhoods and cities with each other to give away your things. Here’s a quick description from the Buy Nothing Project About Page:
The Buy Nothing Project began as an experimental hyper-local gift economy on Bainbridge Island, WA; in just 8 months, it has become a social movement, growing to over 25,000 members in 150 groups, in 4 countries. Our local groups form gift economies that are complementary and parallel to local cash economies; whether people join because they’d like to quickly get rid of things that are cluttering their lives, or simply to save money by getting things for free, they quickly discover that our groups are not just another free recycling platform…
The Buy Nothing Project started here in the beautiful state of Washington, but is quickly spreading worldwide, and for good reason. It’s simple to use, it creates community with your local city, and allows people to pick up things for free that you would otherwise spend thousands and thousands on over the years.
How It Works
The Buy Nothing Projects connects with people using simple Facebook groups. People can join the group if they are within the locale (say, in the city of Mill Creek), and start requesting items they are in search of, or posting items they wish to pass on. There is ABSOLUTELY NO MONEY or payment allowed for an item, it’s all free.
ISO: People who are looking for a certain item can post an “ISO” or “In Search Of” request on the Facebook page. Others then can jump in a comment if they believe they have the item they are looking for.
Item(s) To Pass On: Others who want to pass on an item will take a picture (or several) of the item and post it on the Facebook group page. Then they allow some time for others to jump in and request the item. If there are several takers, they do a random drawing (usually picking a number from Random.org) and select the commenter to gift the item to.
How To Pick Up The Items
Since we’re all crazy busy, and taking time out of two people’s schedule may be cumbersome, these groups have started using the PPU (or Porch Pick Up) method of distribution. When a winner is awarded the free item, they person giving sends a private message (PM) to the winner and gives them their address. They then set the items outside with a name tag on it for the winner to pick up at a later time.
More Than Money
But it’s not all about saving money. We have witnessed our city become a close knit community through this group. People who are hurting are getting helped. People who have abundance are blessing others. And people are getting to know their neighbors, become friends and sharing life together. It’s honestly weird to get to know people, as smart phones and other electronics rule our attention, society as a whole seems less connected. But the Buy Nothing Project is taking that same technology and breaking people out of their shell, as well as helping keep a bunch of stuff out of the landfills. How awesome it that?!
How We Use It
We joined our local Buy Nothing group almost a year ago. My wife thought the group sounded pretty awesome and we’re always down for some free stuff instead of draining our wallets. We got a few items (baby PJ’s and a baby sling), and we were pretty stoked. Then we saw someone give away a CAR! WOW!
I think that’s when we realized that this group was kind of a big deal. People who no longer needed an item could bless others with it instead of trashing it. Items now have a WAY longer lifecycle and could last through multiple families. There is an ABUNDANCE of stuff in the world, why waste it?
We even had a kid in our neighborhood who didn’t have a bike. He was so friendly with our son and loved playing with all the neighborhood kids, we wanted to give back in some way. He was moving soon, so we posted on the Buy Nothing group that we wanted to get a bike for our neighbor very soon. That’s when our group sprung into action.
On person said they had a bike, but it needed some work. Then a gentleman jumped in a said he repaired bikes and would be able to fix it. The group admin then jumped in a few seconds later and said she could swing by, pick it up and drop it off at his house. A few house later, the bike was dropped off at our house, in almost brand new condition. All within 6 hours! We gifted the bike “from the neighborhood” and he was ecstatic. That’s just a snippet of the kind of community that has formed.
We have been blessed to save a TON of money on many items we would have paid hundreds out of pocket for. And we have been able to pass on and bless others as well. We no longer feel a sense of ownership of our stuff, but rather we “borrow” items until they have outlived their usefulness in our family, and pass it on. We no longer have the burned of trying to sell small items (and some big ones) because it’s much better passed on to those who may need it (plus they pick it up themselves)! We don’t carry the burden of having to keep something because “we paid a ton of money for it”, and instead we give and receive openly, knowing that we can probably find what we’re looking for, and help others do the same. It’s really a whole new way of looking at “stuff.”
For those interested, see some of the stuff we’ve picked up and given below…
Some Of Our Received Items
- 2 Dining Room Chairs
- TONS of baby clothes
- Kid’s motorcycle for Nolan
- Hutch to refinish for our room
- Picture frames
- Adult clothing too!
Some Of Our Given Items
- Tons of clothes (after Naked Lady Party)
- Household items
- Outdoor toys
How To Join
Ok, so now that you know the Buy Nothing Project is THE best free recycling group out there and you also realize you don’t want to spend money on stuff anymore, how do you join today? Well, it’s simple. Just head on over to www.buynothingproject.org/ and look for their “Find A Group” tab. And if you don’t find one near you, why not start one?! Just click on the “Start A Group” tab and follow the instructions!
Stop wasting money and buying more stuff just to end of tossing it in the landfill a few years later. Enjoy the “gift economy” of Buy Nothing, and start saving and giving today!
I am in no way affiliated with The Buy Nothing Project, and just think what they are doing is awesome. I don’t receive any compensation for promoting them.
*Note: Selling is useful when you can get $25 or more for something, as a rule of thumb. But most everything we don’t need anymore probably won’t pull in much cash and isn’t worth your time. Focus on selling furniture, vehicles, artwork, and collectibles. Most everything else is a waste of time.