52 Weeks of Positivity- Buy Nothing Groups and Why You Need One

by - Wednesday, November 09, 2016

Well, that just happened.

I know some Americans are overjoyed, some are ambivalent, and many are ready to just stop talking about it already. Right now, if we are being totally honest here, I feel pretty negative about everything. I came from small town America. I love my small town, and lots of people in it, but it is hard not to feel like fear and negativity won out. At the very least, the nasty antagonism and divisiveness that characterized the campaign has continued.

Ok, enough ranting. I am committing to spending this person's presidency absolutely fighting this negativity with honesty and positivity. I am not going to politely say nothing when someone is being unkind and selfish, I am not going to stand by as this president strips so many of their rights, and you all know I have a lot of fight in me about the environment. My goal right now is to do something positive, community-building (or preserving), and intentional everyday. Maybe I can't change the world everyday, but I am talking about more than opening doors or smiling more.

Who wants to join me? Share your ideas about how we as individuals and groups can make this country better, rather than hoping the government will do it for us,

buy nothing group chocolate chip cookies cooling

This week, I am all about my Buy Nothing Group.

One of the things we can all agree on, conservative to super progressive, is that the economy isn't working and there has to be a change. This is our common ground, and it is somewhere to start. A lot of that change may come from regulation and government leadership, but a lot of that change could come from us as consumers. We are in an economy that treats as much more valuable as consumers than producers. If we change our values and habits around how we get what we need, we could start to positively effect our local and national economies on our own.

It is now clear just how much families are panicking about jobs and getting by, and I think this solution could make a huge difference in individual lives and in communities that have been abandoned by the companies they once supported (like my hometown).

Loyal readers know how obsessed I am with the Buy Nothing Project. This project is only a few years old, but it works as a vast network of Facebook groups; each one encompasses a town or neighborhood. Members of each group can offer gifts to one another or ask for things when they need them. Everything is freely given, the group is lead by a local volunteer, and no one is making any money off of this.

At first glance, you might think this sounds a lot like any other place where you donate, but these groups are really special:

-They create opportunities to meet your neighbors. I have met so many moms with babies because of this group. I know at least 4 more families within 2 blocks of our house because of it. This group is completely apolitical, so you can just chat about the minutiae of daily life and other common ground. When we moved here, we were totally alone, now I wave to neighbors as we go for walks. It's not all due to Buy Nothing, but it helps a lot.

I love my group because I always have generosity and gratitude throughout my newsfeed. Every day I wake up and people are being kind to each other. It feeds my optimism for the universe.

- They minimize waste. We have a baby swing, which we love madly for about 3 months. Then it's done. In the year and a half between my two children, three other babies used that swing, so three fewer swings will be littering our beautiful landscape with barely used trash.

It can also keep things you can't donate from going to waste, We have gifted weed killer. I have seen others gift their milk before going on vacation.  Nail polish gets passed around. It's amazing what you might have that is exactly what someone else needs,

free dining room table
beautiful dining room table. it cost us 15 dollars to rent the van to come get it. 

-Lastly, and so important for our common ground right now, it saves you money. So. Much. Money.
In two years, we have received 2 major pieces of furniture (a table and a crib) from group members. We have been gifted toys, shoes, clothes, books, and other things. If I had to guess, we have saved at least two thousand dollars in 2 years.

Why is this important? So many of us feel like we are barely surviving or getting by. By just helping each other, we can save money, and then when it is time to shop, we can stop giving our money to the lowest price and instead by quality items that support American labor. Bemoaning the lack of American jobs? Opportunities in your area? Buy Made in America products and buy them from local businesses. Yes, it's more expensive, but if you are mixing in Buy Nothing items, it can come out the same. No more cheap crap from Walmart, because it is hurting your community and pushing out the businesses we need to survive.

In other words, if we want change, we have to make changes ourselves, and Buy Nothing creates an opportunity to reconsider what we buy, where we buy it from, and why. Those questions are important, and they are shaping our local economies constantly whether we are aware of it or not. Buy Nothing creates a space to step out of the constant cycle of acquisition. The big bonus is that it also strengthens community bonds and prevents so much garbage and waste. If you have never thought about this project, or it seems like too much work, let me tell you, it isn't.

We aren't alone in this, and if you need the proof, ask me and I will let you browse my Buy Nothing from my account.

So, Buy Nothing is awesome. What does this have to do with your new aggressively cheery mission?

I have two missions around Buy Nothing- 

1. Encourage the people in my own Buy Nothing. Without mention of the election, this morning I offered all the leftover cookies from our stress binging. Not only am I saving us from oodles of calories, I am sending comfort food out to my neighbors. I want to keep at this and use this resource to inject positivity into my immediate world.

2. Get YOU to join a group (or start one)- Get on their site and look for your neighborhood. Request to join with your address, and you will be addictively checking what's going on in no time.

Don't have one yet? Start it. I'm looking at you, Franklin readers. If it feels intimidating, send me a message and I will help you figure it out. It's not as tough as it sounds, just make sure to ask a friend to do it with you to split the excitement early on.

If you are in one that is just starting, ask your friends to join. Do it if you live in a city, suburb, small town, or troll mountain.

Is this a small step? Maybe, but I think it could make a world of difference, especially in small towns that may not need to meet people, but could use clear avenues of support. Nobody has to be alone when they need a little help for food or outfitting a new space. That little bit of wiggle room creates the opportunity to redistribute how we spend our money, so we can invest in our communities and each other instead of settling to get by.

Companies will do what makes them money; if you don't send the message that doing the right thing is profitable or popular, they will always slip around reform to make more money. Buy Nothing Groups create the opportunity to send companies a message and to make your communities stronger. 

Interested in what this blog is all about? It is a (mostly, sort of) apolitical blog that encourages American of every walk of life to make some little changes (many of which will save you money) to make our lives, our country and our Earth a better place. If you want to know more about it, or about me, check here. If you want oodles of eco-friedly shopping ideas, check out my Mega List of Shopping Lists.

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