My Ten Favorite Buy Nothing Moments

by - Saturday, November 19, 2016

I love my Buy Nothing Group.

I know, I talk about it a lot, but I genuinely feel that being part of the Buy Nothing Project radically shifted my perception of stuff, my community, even myself. The project connects neighbors through hyper local facebook groups. The members can offer and ask for things freely. It keeps things you don't want out of landfills and keeps people from wasting money. In cities, it helps you get to know your neighbors and in small communities, it creates new bonds. It's all kinds of awesome.

Expect me to keep talking about it, because my goal is that by the end of 4 years the 280,000 members will have grown to at least 2 million. It is all about people empowering themselves, but I am just going to keep talking about it until someone in Franklin, PA starts a group already. Or you give up and ask to join yours. This could help everyone, freeing up money to make more ethical and environmentally-responsible choices, so the more of us who join, the better.

It also just makes daily life better. When I get on facebook, my news feed shows me people being kind to each other, not because of who they are, but because that is what you do. I have had so many positive interactions with my neighbors, which is way swell, and I just feel better about the universe. That is pretty big these days. I have been in this gift economy for a year and a half, and these are some of my favorite interactions:

Fresh Christmas Wreath Bells

10. Gifting our Christmas Wreath

 I bought a fresh wreath at an elementary school fundraiser mostly to make my house smell like a real Christmas tree, even though we continue to use our trusty artificial one (It will look like a used fake eyelash before we throw that bad boy away). We were headed back home for the holidays, and it felt like a shame to let the wreath go to waste, so I gifted it to a young mom looking for a few decorations for her apartment. She walked a couple miles to get it, so I honored the badassery with glass of water, and we ended up sitting and chatting for a few hours while our kids played near each other (toddlers never play together- why do people pretend?). It was an unexpected way to spend our last Christmasy afternoon in the city. Plus that gorgeous pine stink still stuck for a while.

9. Gifted Tablecloths

My brother is getting married in a few weeks, so when someone recently offered 40 wedding tablecloths, I jumped at it. Do you know just how many tablecloths that is? It was HEAVY. Hopefully the tablecloths can get washed and regifted, so they will see at least 3 couples through their wedding day.

Buy Nothing Project Toys

Buy Nothing Project Wooden Easel
8.Gifted Popping Push Toy/ Plastic Shopping Cart/ Plastic Tree House/ Plastic Wagon

I hate fresh plastic toys- so much waste for no reason! Luckily, my son still got one of those magnetic drawing boards, the shopping cart, even one of those popper toys. His plastic tree house is one of his favorites. We just got them all for free. And when we are done with them, some other kid will get them for free. At this age, they can't tell the difference between used and new, and my hope is that I am giving him a different value system. The newest, shiniest thing doesn't have intrinsically more value.  More toys does not equal more fun. We have gifted toys and been gifted toys over and over again, so at any given time his collection is at least 50% used. It saves us so much money, but more importantly, it sends him important messages about consumerism and giving (not hoarding) as a regular part of life.

7.Gifting Spruce Sap

One of the group members was looking for sap from a spruce tree. We have a spruce tree! An hour or two later, our tree was less sticky and we got to help someone with a school project. Also, I learned that spruce trees are sappy. The best kind of random.

6. Gifting Treadmill/ Gifted Crib

We kicked off healthy 2016 by giving away our treadmill (perfect sense, right?). A woman got it, and her husband and his friend loaded it in their van. In November, I was gifted a crib from the same family. My husband and his brother loaded it into our car. Just goes to show that these things come around pretty fast.
about to find more pavers. also got the bucket (originally for frosting) on BN

5. Gifting Pavers

 Our flipped yard is really just built on top of the previous yard, so every time we go to do something, we find a whole floor of pavers underneath. Lucky for us, we kicked off our summer giving away a bunch of those big rocks to people to put paths through their gardens. One mom came with her toddler and loaded so many that it made her car sit lower. One woman's super annoying rock pit is another woman's treasure.

Arcimboldo Art Project made with recycled magazines

4. Gifted Food Magazines

For one of my class projects, I need pictures of food. Lots of pictures of food. So many pictures of food. Usually, I would buy a pile of food magazines and old cookbooks to fill that need. This year, I asked my Buy Nothing, and I got so many I shouldn't have to ask again for a long time. Happy to be recycling for someone, especially when the recycling turns out this cute.

3. Gifting (and watching Gifting) for people who really need it

Our city is growing fast, but lots of people are still really struggling, and I have been awed by how many times people have stepped up to help. I have seen people rally around moms leaving domestic violence situations. I have seen 10-20 people step up when someone asks for a ride to the hospital. I have seen them drop off food to someone who can't shop. We have given our newborn clothes to a premie and our swing to an exhausted mother of twins. We have given hats and warm clothes to the homeless. We have helped the group outfit elementary school classrooms with supplies. I have watch so many people empty their cupboards to help their neighbor.

I know we have problems, but I genuinely believe, have to believe that we as Americans are fundamentally good. When faced with an individual who needs help, I have never seen the group go silent. Someone helps. Usually, at least a dozen people offer. Being a participant in this is great, but it does my soul so much good to be a witness. Because when I leave my house, even in this big city, I know how many kind people are around me.

2. Gifting a Wedding Dress

I foolishly impulse bought a wedding dress at Priscilla of Boston because they were closing and had a ridiculous clearance. In the end. I wore a different dress. This spring, a woman asked if anyone had a wedding dress to gift or lend, and I did! So it traveled with my Dad and his wife across the country for her to try on. And it looked perfect. Little did I know I bought her dress for her, but it was fate. She looks amazing.

They get married next year, so I won't post a picture, but I could not be more excited about this. So glad the dress is going to good use and honored to have helped with their day!

Buy Nothing Project Dining Room Table

1. Gifted the Dining Room Table

Last October, my husband was home for a sick day, and we ended up loading our sick butts into the car, renting a van, and going to a stranger's house to pick up the table. I had thrown my hat in for the table, but he was picked, then it didn't work in his space. Not only was it a kind of fun adventure, but I am super sentimental about this table. It was another growing family's first, and now our family will grow up eating their meals around this table.

It has been a lot of work (put on pause because we found out we were pregnant soon after), but the table only cost us 15 dollars for the van rental. Compare it to the same table at Pottery Barn, we saved over 2,000 dollars. We can put that money toward a trip or adventure for our family, and when it is done, we will still have a beautiful space. I love the table and I feel so grateful to live in the kind of neighborhood where things are given so freely and happily.

That's what this is all about to me. When we are willing to share with our neighbors, we can build new bonds and reprioritize our life. It doesn't have to all be about the next thing you are going to buy, and you spend most of the time considering what you have that you can give. If you aren't in a Buy Nothing group, check out their page and join. If there isn't one where you live, let's talk about starting one. This thing can change the world and change your life!

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