Buy Nothing Groups = Random Acts of Kindness All Day Long

What Does A Buy Nothing Group Look Like?

IMG_5781 Given© Liesl Clark

© Liesl Clark

When people ask us what a Buy Nothing group really looks like, we tell them it’s a Facebook group that’ll give you a hands-on chance to take part in a social movement spreading across the globe, enabling people and communities to commit episodic acts of daily good together. We provide the freeware for you to set up local gift economies, using social media to bring to the fore myriad random acts of kindness for neighbors to partake in day-in and day-out. The gift economies are sharing-groups, where members of a community get to know each other by giving, asking, and expressing their gratitude.

Gratitude apples.jpg

Interested in a sampling of what you might see offered or asked-for in a Buy Nothing group? We’re happy to help provide a look inside, so you can decide if you’d like to establish one in your community, too.

People give clothes, dinners, crock pots, plants, garden tools. We’ve seen used and clean Ziploc bags offered, laundry detergent, antiques, bicycles, canoes, kombucha, branches, flowers, cement blocks, eggs, beds, broccoli, custard, and crickets. There’s no limit to what you can give or receive.

I offer fresh organic eggs to our BN members every week. © Liesl Clark

I offer fresh organic eggs to our BN members every week. © Liesl Clark

It’s the services offered and offbeat requests that are perhaps the most touching, enabling people to give in the most precious ways. Members use their words, rather than abbreviated “ISO,” for example, which can feel alienating to those who don’t typically join buy/sell/trade groups. No trades or swaps are allowed, as all gifts are freely given. Here’s a list of a few things that happened in our local group last month to help you get started on your own Buy Nothing creative giving.

Examples of Buy Nothing Gives and Asks:

– A Nurse offers her time to care for an elderly person or give childcare.

– A father asks for doll clothes for his child.

– An arborist offers her services to check the health of a landowner’s trees.

IMG_7843 © Liesl Clark

Gifting her services, arborist, Katy Bigelow, gets ready to climb one of our island’s largest trees. © Liesl Clark

– A woman needs over-the-counter medicines late at night to help treat a UTI, and neighbors respond quickly and compassionately.

– A man asks for blackberries for wine he’s making and then shares the wine with the whole community.

IMG_8472 © Liesl Clark

Community Blackberry Wine © Liesl Clark

– An experienced guitarist offers 4 free guitar lessons for a child getting started.

– A family whose son just had an appendectomy on vacation in HI receives gift baskets upon their return home.

– A Buy Nothing group outfits a 10 year-old girl whose family just had a house fire.

— A Buy Nothing admin doubles her recipe for dinner, which means she has enough to give a meal to a family nearby.

gift of self

– Several college students moving into apartments are given furniture and kitchen stuff.

– Flowers contributed from members’ gardens become large bouquets for a BN member’s friend who just passed away.


A community bouquet. Contributors picked flowers from their own gardens. © Betsy Daniels


– A new first grade teacher’s room is outfitted with books, rug, and stuffed animals.

— Neighbors get together at a community spot to split plants and share the bounties of their gardens.

— A woman breaks her leg and the community comes together to take turns walking her dog.

Mill Creek Students.jpg

– A ‘clothing boutique’ takes place, free clothing offered to all who attend. And the extra clothes make a round through the Buy Nothing group over the next few weeks in a “Round Robin” where members who couldn’t attend the clothing boutique event can try clothes on for themselves, take what they want, and add to the box any clothing they want to get rid of, and pass it on to the next person.

IMG_8007 © Liesl Clark

© Liesl Clark

— A chef teaches a cooking class for interested members.

— A couple who own a food truck requests ripped or stained towels to clean their deep fryers.

A BN cooking class led by a gourmet cook is a great community-building event. © Liesl Clark

A Buy Nothing cooking class led by a gourmet cook is a great community-building event. © Liesl Clark

— A crochet club is started.

— A single mother requests (and receives) a place for her small family to stay when her lease is set to run out before her offer is accepted on her new house.

— A free Halloween costume event takes place in a member’s home.

The best way to jump into a Buy Nothing group is to just start giving! It’s a great way to introduce yourself and generate some good will.

Posting in a Buy Nothing Group:

We are local gift economies, so everything is free and people don’t need to ask where to buy things. There’s no need to make referrals or links to businesses, because we try to meet every request in our groups, without having to go outside of the group to meet a want or need. Trades and cash are not allowed.

You can give your gifts to whomever you choose, for whatever reason. You may choose someone randomly, or in some more creative way, like based on the silliest pet photos posted, funniest joke, best limerick, solving a riddle, someone you have never met before, someone who has not been offered a gift before, etc.

Creative Way To Choose

It is nice to leave your offers open for a period of time, to let them simmer, so that everyone gets a chance to see them and express interest.

Simply saying “next” or “interested” as a response to the offer of a gift can feel anonymous to the giver, so the more information you provide about why you’re interested in the gift, the better. These are not ‘first come first serve’ groups, unless the giver chooses to do it that way.





Please don’t privately message people asking for them to give you a certain item. Buy Nothing groups operate on transparent communication. Private messages should only be used to exchange pick-up information.

Don’t be discouraged if you are not picked to receive an item you really want. You are always free to post your own requests at any time. You’ll get best results if you introduce yourself and explain how the item you are seeking will enhance your life. Please try to avoid impersonal abbreviations (like ISO, IDNO etc.)

Gratitude 4There’s no need to delete your posts because the community history is always nice to keep on record.

We love posts of gratitude! It makes everyone feel good to see that people appreciate the gifts they receive.


Gratitude Post in a Buy Nothing group in the Philippines.

Gratitude Pigs


Gratitude Cake Icing

We encourage BN selfies when members meet up to give to each other. The selfies are fun, sharing them in our groups boosts everyone’s feel-good hormones, and friendships are made. Person-to-person giving is where it’s at.



Keeping It Civil

Our groups are places for civil discourse and admins work hard to keep the groups focused on giving, asking, and gratitude, rather than on discussions about community issues, politics or community bulletin board-type announcements.

The Buy Nothing Project is not an echo chamber. Researchers are finding that online activities are generally allowing each of us to find our own like-minded communities and to stay within those, where we’re unlikely to share online space with people whose ideas and philosophies differ much from our own. The Buy Nothing Project bucks this trend. We don’t require any of our members to subscribe to any particular philosophy, politics, or world view. We welcome everyone and we also require everyone to respect our Keep It Civil rule in order to facilitate human connections within each group’s diverse mix. So long as we are civil in our communication, all offers and requests allowed by Buy Nothing Project rules and Facebook’s Terms of Service are welcome in our groups. This means we guarantee that eventually you’ll see things here that offend and anger you, as well as things that gladden your heart and give you hope. This is true for each of us, co-founders, admins, and members alike, no matter our personal politics, philosophies, and values.

Participating in our diverse groups brings many challenges and incredible opportunities for learning about ourselves and others. Being part of this project means you’ll be connecting with the people who live in your neighborhood, even the ones who differ from you in ways that may push your buttons (and you theirs) in powerful ways. The lessons that come along with this are not always easy, but we offer them as one more freely-given gift you’ll receive from your participation in your local Buy Nothing Project group.

Small Hyper-Local Groups

We try to initially create Buy Nothing groups in small areas, and as they grow bigger, they sprout into even smaller areas or neighborhoods, hence the “hyper-local” focus in the mission. When the founders of the Buy Nothing Project created this global movement in their hometown, the idea was to focus on smaller, hyper local neighborhoods.

We know that when a Facebook group reaches about 1000 members, the intimacy of the group changes in character, members feel more anonymous and the groups move quickly, with a lot of the focus being on “stuff” rather than people. We encourage our large groups to “sprout.”

There are many benefits to SPROUTING:

— Neighborliness – the vision for the Buy Nothing Project is for neighbors to get to know one another through the group, and to form bonds and connections, weaving a web among all of the neighbors. As the group gets bigger, it becomes harder to know one another and to interact with all people. In encouraging personal and face to face communication, rather than anonymous giving, it becomes increasingly harder to get to know everyone in the group the larger we become.

— Warmth – in a smaller group where we can all get to know one another, the atmosphere is warmer, and more intimate. We know the people posting. We will know that a family is having their first trip to Disney World, or that someone is caring for their elderly parents, that someone is getting married, or that someone was diagnosed with cancer. We can shed tears of joy that Talia is expecting after years of trying, and gather baby clothes. We can more easily reach out when we know each other and interact to help one another, rather than say, “Her name started with an T …. trying to remember …”

— Less Competition – in a smaller group, there will be less competition for gifts, and we will get to know each other better. Instead of a line of 10+ people all clamoring for the same gift, you may see 2-3 people chatting and interacting on a post. Rather than just picking a random person out of a line, with a smaller sampling you can pause and think about what they might do with the gift, why they would need it, and your interactions with this person in the past. When it is your time to ask for that dresser that you really, really, really want, your chances of receiving will increase exponentially!

— Calmness- The page may be less active, and that may be a good thing. Calmer, slower browsing is something that we could all use in our often hectic, chaotic, go-go-go lives these days. Taking a moment to really pause on a post and appreciate the kindness that is here could be a welcome change.

— More personal – With a smaller membership, it is more manageable for the admin team, and makes it easier for them to focus on YOU as a *person* rather than data. We have many responsibilities as volunteer admins. We are all volunteers, hoping to bring the best, safest and most enjoyable experience to all members. With a smaller group, we are better able to tend to conflicts, listen to concerns, educate members and work with them in achieving our mission.

— Care for our environment – the Buy Nothing Project has opportunity to bring about a positive environmental impact by reducing our consumption levels, saving items from landfills, and driving less. The vision that we have in the project is one in which we can walk or bike to give and receive gifts more often. We hope to reduce our distances in driving, and lessen our carbon footprint in the only planet that we have.

— Accountability – in a smaller group, behaviors are more noticeable. If someone is promoting their business in a sneaky way, when the neighbors know each other it is more noticeable. If there are people who are rude, inconsiderate, or a No Show, it is a much easier to hide these behaviors in a bigger, active group.

— Safety – In smaller, less anonymous spaces, regarding issues of risk and safety, it is much easier to spot suspicious behavior.

— Ease of pick ups – it can be much less of a hassle to pick up when the gift is right around the corner, rather than a 12 minute drive. More than that, participating with people who are so close to you can give you opportunity to meet the people right in your area. In one town that sprouted, in the first week, a neighbor connected with a member of the group who, as it turned out, lived five houses down! They became fast friends, and had never interacted before despite being in the bigger group for years together.

— Outreach – Sprouting can help make new members and quiet members feel more comfortable in a smaller, safer environment.

Still looking for more info on just what makes a Buy Nothing group unique? Check out our Fine Print (our rules and guidelines.) And, if that just feels like too much reading, Jamie Carbaugh has created a nifty video version of it that’s easy and fun to watch. Thanks Jamie!

Buy Nothing groups are less about stuff and more about community. If there isn’t one in your community and you’d like to work with us to start one, contact us and we’ll get you started!

And if you feel that our description of a Buy Nothing group doesn’t look and feel anything like the Buy Nothing group in your community, let us know! Check our our Member Resources page that gives you tools for helping your community bring your group into alignment with the Buy Nothing vision. There’s a form at the end of the page that you can fill out and we’ll get back to you!



The Buy Nothing Project Begins

Buy Nothing is hyper-local and hyper-logical. © Liesl Clark

July 31st, 2013
In just 3 weeks, an experiment we launched on Facebook has taken off faster than any venture we’ve ever tried. It’s taken us years to find the right combination of technology and community to create a sustainable sharing and caring economy. The new project is a gift economy based on the simple acts of giving and receiving, no cash involved.

IMG_5808 Received© Liesl Clark

© Liesl Clark

My giving basket. Produce shared with neighbors in our Buy Nothing group.

And the gifts themselves are goods of all kinds and services.

Face painting is a gift, not just a talent. © Melisa Lunt
Face painting is a gift, not just a talent. © Melisa Lunt

When I first moved to the Puget Sound Island where we live, I started a Yahoo group called Island Garden Share. Once a month, our members would meet to share our perennial plants we had divided from our gardens, including veggies and fruits we could replant. We were avid gardeners or newbies wanting to avoid spending a lot of money at the local nurseries to put in new perennial beds. It was the perfect way for me to make island friends. As time passed, after 2 years of meeting, the group fizzled out, mostly due to busy schedules.

Gifting. © Liesl Clark
Gifting. © Liesl Clark

3 years later, my friend Rebecca and I started Bainbridge Barter, a chance for gardeners to share their bounty once a week at a public park. We treated it like a pot luck where members brought their own produce, laid it out on a table, and took from the table what they needed from other gardener’s offerings. I fed my family most of the year from the fresh fruits and veggies from this group. The Saturday a.m. meeting time became too difficult for many of us, so after 2 years the group petered out.

Neighbors Share Garden Bounty with Each Other in a Public Park, photo by Rebecca Rockefeller

Neighbors Share Garden Bounty with Each Other in a Public Park, photo by Rebecca Rockefeller

3 Weeks ago, the experiment in a local sharing economy took a new turn: Rebecca set us up as the administrators of a Facebook group we named Buy Nothing Bainbridge. She had asked her local Facebook friends whether they would be interested in joining such a group. Over 60 people responded positively. This was the critical mass that told us the group could be formed, a social media-driven alternative to Freecycle, with an instant membership. We would use Facebook as our free app, our friends and neighbors as our evangelists, and our own stuff to seed the flames of a smoldering community fire aching for connection and a means of sharing our communal bounty.

A Buy Nothing Bainbridge member swooning over fresh baked bread she received from a neighbor. © Melisa Lunt
A Buy Nothing Bainbridge member swooning over fresh baked bread she received from a neighbor. © Melisa Lunt

Here’s a description from our group page about the Buy Nothing Project:

“Buy Nothing: Give Freely. Share the bounty. Post anything you’d like to give away, lend, or share amongst neighbors. Ask for anything you’d like to receive for free or borrow. Keep it legal. Keep it civil. ”

There's something just plain funny about our stuff, especially when our pets are involved. © Karen Dueck Richter
There’s something just plain funny about our stuff, especially when our pets are involved. © Karen Dueck Richter

We all have stuff, whether too much or not enough, and in this modern world where we’re increasingly tied ever more tightly to our internet devices, we have opportunity at this moment in history to use social media at its best to share the bountiful material culture around us with our neighbors. At its core, The Buy Nothing Project is an experiment in gifting what we have, to prevent the overproduction of unnecessary goods. It’s also an opportunity to seamlessly move goods as gifts from the haves to the have nots with zero cash in the transaction.

This wedding dress was offered to the Buy Nothing group. © Julia Benziger
This wedding dress was offered to the Buy Nothing group. © Julia Benziger

Having seen first-hand the amount of plastic washing up on our ocean shores, trickling down our watersheds, Rebecca and I want to tackle the problem of manufacturers outproducing our ability to dispose of our waste. But this time we’re looking at the problem from a new angle, the Reduce angle, the very first of the 3 Rs. But rather than approach the problem from the end-of-life perspective, i.e., the waste end, we’ve taken a dramatic shift forward, tackling the obvious usefulness of things before they become true “trash.” Giving stuff a new life, through gifting and reuse, means a potential new purchase of a brand spanking new item can be averted and a connection with a neighbor can be made.

Don't buy shelves, ask your neighbors for them. © Ellen Wixted
Don’t buy shelves, ask your neighbors for them. © Ellen Wixted

Three weeks into the Buy Nothing Project we have over 1000 members in our local groups, 4 more groups in our state, 1 in California, and many groups pending worldwide. Methinks the gift economy is ready to come to fruition in willing pockets of the planet.

Housewares, items from your garage, kids' toys, even services can be gifted. © Rebecca Rockefeller
Housewares, items from your garage, kids’ toys, even services can be gifted. © Rebecca Rockefeller

If you’d like to start a Buy Nothing group in your home town, let us know in the comments below and we’ll do our best to get you started.

Your community will thank you if you start a Buy Nothing group there. © Jodie Garhardt
Your community will thank you if you start a Buy Nothing group there. © Jodie Garhardt

— Liesl, Rebecca, and the Buy Nothing Project


How To Set Up Your Own Buy Nothing Group

Welcome to the Buy Nothing Community!

© Christa Hinchcliffe

© Christa Hinchcliffe

Want a Buy Nothing group in your own neighborhood? Here’s how to make it happen:

  1. Let us know that you would like to set up a group by sending us an email here.  We’ll set up a Facebook Group for your neighborhood – Since you know your region better than we do, think about what makes sort of an area makes sense as a single group; you’ll want an area large enough to gather a critical mass of members, but not so large geographically that it will be difficult for members to connect in person to share things.
  2. Your group will need one or two volunteer administrators. Group admins are responsible for answering questions and helping to keep the Buy Nothing culture developing in a kind way. If you can’t volunteer as the local administrator of your new local Buy Nothing group, recruit a friend who can!  From here on out, the directions will assume that you are going to be one of these administrators.
  3. If you don’t already have a Facebook account, you’ll need to create one. Buy Nothing Project groups connect online through Facebook group pages, so each Buy Nothing member needs a Facebook account.
  4. We’ll notify you when we’ve set up your group and will invite you to join, then upgrade you to administrator status. We’ll co-admin with you to help things run smoothly, answer questions, and share tips from other groups around the world.
  5. Invite your local friends to the new group, and ask each of them to invite their friends, and so on and so forth.
  6. Start posting! Groups need to see examples of every sort of interaction that Buy Nothing fosters: Things being given freely, things being ask for freely, items up for loan and sharing. The more there is to scroll through, the easier it is for new members to see how things work, and the more inspired everyone will be to add their own things to the mix.
  7. It’s that simple!
© Liesl Clark
© Liesl Clark

Buy Nothing Project Research Initiative

By Alisa Pearlstone

Buy Nothing Project co-founders’ note: When we set up our first Buy Nothing Project group over 6 years ago, one of the first criticisms directed at us was that a hyperlocal gift economy would destroy local businesses and non-profits and thereby bring hardship to local families. Some feared that money saved thanks to gifts received would mean no more money spent locally. We hypothesized that the opposite would happen, that bringing neighbors together to share resources freely would strengthen our local community, and likely facilitate more mindful local spending. Because this criticism still arises when new Buy Nothing Project groups are launched in new places, we chose to use our first survey to pose a question that addresses this: are Buy Nothing Project participants saving money, and if they are, what are they doing with that extra cash?
— Liesl Clark and Rebecca Rockefeller



Being in a Buy Nothing group helps people improve their financial well-being. Monthly savings are helping members to better afford essentials as well as spending money more freely in local businesses.


Results from a survey of over 2000 Buy Nothing members show that participating in the gift economy through the Buy Nothing Project enables the vast majority of members to save money each month. Nine out of every ten members tell us they have extra money in the bank that is now primarily going further to meet their needs, being spent on essentials for their family and affording their bills more comfortably.

Excitingly, local businesses were the second biggest beneficiary from our gifting communities’ improved finances, with local spending being the second most popular way for our members to allocate their healthier bank balance. This adds weight to our belief that, far from being a threat to the local market economy, local business can indeed benefit from being in an area that has a hyperlocal gift economy within.

While 90% of respondents had saved at least some money each month, over a third had saved more than $20 and 15% had saved over $50, with some people routinely saving money in the $100s.

There is so much more to learn about how participating in the gift economy is changing communities. This survey has scratched the surface but we will be following this preliminary work with a series of research pieces in the coming year. This process will help us to really tell the story of Buying Nothing to the rest of the world so that we can transform even more communities that we have yet to reach. Importantly, it will also help us to improve what we are doing with our existing communities by giving us vital insights.

Thanks to all who participated and for your ongoing support and a big thank you in advance for helping us with the surveys yet to come.

Person 2 Person 4 Relief

Person2Person4Relief is a team of volunteers around the world, all working to get supplies to those affected by local natural disasters. Please join us! In the past we’ve provided much-needed relief to the blank spots on the media map, the forgotten corners of North Carolina during Hurricane Florence, Texas during Hurricane Harvey, to Puerto Rico during Maria and to Nepal where millions of people, due to the earthquake there were rendered homeless. We’re a close-knit team of professionals, members of The Buy Nothing Project, relief workers, and everyday citizens who want to help those in need affected by disasters, so we’re doing what we can as efficiently as possible through our collective contacts, person-to-person, in gift economy style and also through the local groups of The Buy Nothing Project, to bring relief where relief is needed.

The group can be found here: https://www.facebook.com/groups/1075687045792546/

Buy Nothing Travelers’ Network

The Buy Nothing Travelers’ Network is a world-wide gift economy for Buy Nothing members, focusing on helping travelers away from home, providing advice about free local things to do, lending and giving items that might be needed, rides required, all with no monetary compensation. This is a global lending library and travelers’ network where members participate with a gift economy mindset and at their own risk.

The group, available to all Buy Nothing Project members, can be found here: https://www.facebook.com/groups/1083874938340481/

BuyNothing7 Challenge

Join the official BuyNothing7 support group for those trying the life-changing experiment of buying nothing for 7 days. You can buy your usual groceries (food, cleaning supplies, toiletries) and the fuel you may need (including travel of all kinds), pay your regular household bills, purchase your prescriptions, critical health items (for you and your pets), and spend on shipping costs (not including shipping supplies.) This is a social experiment pushing people to rely more on our neighbors to receive from or borrow what we need, make do, DIY what’s wanted, fix what might be broken, use up what we already have, and mindfully understand the triggers beneath our needs vs wants before actively taking part in a consumer-targeted, profit-driven economy.

You can find the group here! https://www.facebook.com/groups/255733331534890/


Just Start The Giving

By Liesl Clark

A Fairy Bed, Made From Leaves, a Pod, Feathers and a Flower. Photo © Liesl Clark

Giving is complicated. There’s a growing perception among many of us that only the “haves” can give, only those who have excess or more than enough can contribute. No one would want what the “have nots” could offer.


At The Buy Nothing Project, we’re a collection of local gift economies that have popped up all over the United Sates. We have groups  from Galveston, TX to Amherst, MA and Upper Kittitas, WA to the Upper Keys, FL. And there’s one fundamental truth that underscores each gift economy: Giving begets more giving. Think of it as a cup of yogurt. For that yogurt to exist, you need a tiny bit of starter yogurt to make the next batch. Like yogurt, giving economies need a tablespoonful of starter giving to sustain more giving.

Local Fresh Goatsmilk Yogurt in Kolapani. © Liesl Clark

What strikes me is the similarities I see in the growth of each Buy Nothing gift economy. First people sign up quickly, wooed by the idea of joining a local giving circle where items and talents are offered for free and anyone is welcome to ask for what they need. It’s a utopic alternative to the market economy. There’s no judgment involved, just a celebration of the bounty around us, and it’s all free. But then, at the early stages of a startup gift economy, there’s a lull in the giving. At first it doesn’t even happen at all. People are, indeed, afraid to give, thinking they couldn’t possibly have anything that anyone would want. This is the crux of the problem of a stalled-out gift economy.

Stalled out? Why? People often think they have nothing to offer their community, perhaps they are struggling to make ends meet. Some members of the group might start things off by asking for items they need in an “ISO baby clothes”- type post. There’s no information about who you are or a story or picture of your baby, and the ask feels anonymous and, well, inhuman. People retreat into skepticism of whether a giving economy could truly work. It’s too good to be true. There’s too little out there and therefore not enough for me. This is the modern sickness of scarcity-thinking which is blind to the abundance in us all.

How do we kickstart a gift economy and overcome our fear of giving? We need to see ourselves as sources of bounty, whether it’s a story you can offer a group of elderly people or a cup of sugar to your next door neighbor, just start the giving. Even the poorest neighborhoods in our country have bounty to give. I’ve been stunned countless times by the generosity of people who are subsistence farmers in Nepal, who invite my family into their homes and offer us endless cups of tea, sweets, cookies, the best of what they have in their kitchens as a gift of pure generosity, celebrating our connection as humans. In a gift economy we can do the same, offer the members of our village a little of what we can spare, to spread the good will of our connectedness which spurs our neighbors to do the same.

© Liesl Clark

Everyone Has Bounty To Give

“I’d be happy to receive a wheelbarrow-load of dandelions,” my friend Rebecca declared. That was when it struck me: People are afraid to give because they believe they don’t have anything to offer, we lost our belief that we’re connected to each other and are needed by our neighbors. What if we started our Buy Nothing giving groups by asking for things that we know anyone can contribute? A bagful of dandelions would be gold for my chickens, but my neighbors don’t know this.

A tattered old book can be a DIY project for a craftsperson.

A box of old Christmas cards could be this year’s wreath for a creative spirit.

Mound of Christmas Cards © Jenny Lange

Shredded paper could be bedding in my henhouse.

Shredded Paper Bedding Photo © Liesl Clark

Broken ceramic dishes are coveted art materials for a ceramicist who makes mosaics:

Blue Daisy Stepping Stone:  From a broken serving platter and gems purchased at the Rotary Auction. Photo © Gillian Allard

A box of unwanted little plastic toys and stickers can be rewards for good reading in a teacher’s classroom.

The things you take for granted are what your neighbors would love. Those are the gifts that are the soul of a gift economy, the items you see everyday that someone on the other side of your town can put to use in new ways.

The bay leaves on the tree in your back yard, the corks from your bottles of wine:

photo © Earth911

Your clean odd socks can be treat bags for another person’s kids in the bulk department:

Clean old socks and tights make great small bags for treats from bulk bins. Photo by Rebecca Rockefeller

The flannel from a torn or stained  set of sheets are material for a seamstress’s creation:

Cotton Pads are Easy to Make and Reusable © Emily Groff

Your old wedding dress could become a young girl’s dream dress:


Your old fishing lures and the stories that go with them could make a boy’s dreams of fishing come true.

The ability you have to paint faces can make a group of children happy:


A gift economy requires a shift in consciousness where we see ourselves not as individuals but as connected selves where we understand that together we have our things, our talents, even our ideas to give to our community. Each week we all can contribute in ways that make a difference to everyone else and therefore ourselves because gifts create bonds between people, and when the whole community witnesses the gift-giving in their Buy Nothing groups the community is strengthened. I believe, no matter what your socio-economic situation, the bounty is there, hiding in plain sight. But we can’t benefit from it if we don’t ask for it or see the beauty in each gift we can offer to start rebuilding our connectedness to each other — And this great shift in consciousness, the search for the sweetness in our communities, the utopic ideal of a giving economy, can’t happen until we just start the giving.

DSC_0242.2, Photo © Liesl Clark


An Introduction to The Buy Nothing Project

BNP generic 2015

Our Buy Nothing Project Mission:

We offer people a way to give and receive, share, lend, and express gratitude through a worldwide network of hyper-local gift economies in which the true wealth is the web of connections formed between people who are real-life neighbors.


  • We believe our hyper-local groups strengthen the social fabric of their communities, and ensure the health and vitality of each member.
  • We come from a place of abundance ~ not scarcity.
  • We believe in abundance, we give, we ask, we share, we lend and we express gratitude.
  • We are a gift economy, not a charity. We see no difference between want and need, waste and treasure.
  • We measure wealth by the personal connections made and trust between people.
  • We value people and their stories and narratives above the ‘stuff.’
  • We are inclusive and civil at our core.
  • We value transparency and honesty in all our interactions.
  • We view all gifts as equal; the human connection is the value.
  • We believe every community has the same wealth of generosity and abundance.

Join Us:
Buy Nothing: Give Freely. Share creatively. Post anything you’d like to give away, lend, or share among neighbors. Ask for anything you’d like to receive for free or borrow. Keep it legal. Keep it civil. No buying or selling, no trades or bartering, no soliciting for cash. We’re an adult-only, hyper-local gift economy. We are not a charity or community bulletin board.

By joining a Buy Nothing Project group, you agree to abide by our Mission and Rules.

You can join one group only, the group where you live so you can literally “give where you live.” This is what builds community.

Brought to you by The Buy Nothing Project. Looking for a group near you? Visit our Find a Group page. Want to join the Buy Nothing Project network and there’s no group in your area? Visit our Start a Group page to learn about how we set groups up.

© 2015 Liesl Clark and Rebecca Rockefeller

All Rights Reserved


Letter From a BN Admin

By Lissa Jagodnik

© Lissa Jagodnik

© Lissa Jagodnik

As promised, I’d like to share this little story about how the Buy Nothing Project has impacted my life. This is Hans Olo. Hans is a foster dog, living with me while the Woof Project finds him a permanent home. Originally, he was picked up as a stray dog in California somewhere. Then he was adopted. He was then returned, because he played too rough. He was then shipped up here to WA and entrusted to us. I have 3 other dogs, and of course they have a million toys, but I really wanted Hans to feel welcome in our house. I wanted him to have his *own* toys and a bed and I wanted him to feel safe.

© Lissa Jagodnik

© Lissa Jagodnik

Being that it was January, not long after Christmas, and my partner and I run a small remodeling company, all I can say is – things were pretty tight. It’s like this every year, and I’m used to it. Nobody wants you remodeling their houses during the holiday season. Basically, I didn’t have a lot of extra money to spend on dog toys. So, I thought I’d give this Buy Nothing thing a shot.

© Lissa Jagodnik

© Lissa Jagodnik

In that picture, you can see Hans playing with the Kong Frisbee that was gifted to us by a Buy Nothing member. Somewhere behind him is a plush toy that came along with it. Each night he eats and drinks out of dog dishes that came from the same person.

© Lissa Jagodnik

© Lissa Jagodnik

At bedtime, he sleeps on a futon soon to be covered with a futon cover that I received from a different Buy Nothing member, and when we take him upstairs to meet the other dogs in our house, we all get to relax and get to know each other, thanks to some baby gates that I also received through Buy Nothing.

© Lissa Jagodnik

© Lissa Jagodnik

These may all seem like very small things, but they have made ALL the difference to us, and to this dog. He is warm. He is comfortable. He is safe. He has toys and dog dishes and he is loved, and this is all 100 times more than he had a month ago. Thank you all for being a part of something so simple that can make such a huge difference. And Thank You for letting me be of service to such a wonderful community.

© Lissa Jagodnik

© Lissa Jagodnik