28 Comments

Buy Nothing Groups = Random Acts of Kindness All Day Long

By Liesl Clark

IMG_5781 Given© Liesl Clark

© Liesl Clark

When people ask me what a Buy Nothing group really looks like, I 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 country, enabling people and communities to commit episodic acts of daily good together. It’s rather an improvement on Freecycle, using social media to bring to the fore myriad random acts of kindness for neighbors to partake in day-in and day-out.

Interested in a sampling of what you might see offered or asked-for in a Buy Nothing group? We’ve seen it all. Really.

People give clothes, dinners, crock pots, plants, rabbits, snakes, rabbit-eating snakes. We’ve seen used and clean Ziploc bags offered, laundry detergent, antiques, bicycles, antique 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 off-beat requests that are perhaps the most touching, enabling people to give in the most precious ways. 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:

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

– A woman needs some land, a final resting place for her beloved dying dog.

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

Gifting her services, arborist, Katy Bigelow, gets ready to climb one of our island's largest trees. © 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 librarian offers a recommended “book of the week” with a brief review.

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

Community Blackberry Wine © Liesl Clark

Community Blackberry Wine © Liesl Clark

– A music store 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.

– Several college students moving into apartments are gifted 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 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.

– A family that has been camping, awaiting an apartment to open up for them, is offered a home for a few weeks.

– A BN member asks homeless people in Seattle what they need (a guitar, winter coats, food), he messages the BN Community and they deliver the items to him which he takes to Seattle the next morning to hand out.

– A woman assembles a gift basket for a newborn.

– A ‘clothing boutique’ takes place, free clothing offered to all who attend.

A Buy Nothing Clothing Swap is Easy to Do! © Liesl Clark

A Buy Nothing Clothing Boutique is Easy to Do! © Liesl Clark

– A woman teaches a cooking class for interested members.

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

Outfit your children for Halloween at a BN costume swap. © Liesl Clark

Outfit your children for Halloween at a Buy Nothing costume boutique. © Liesl Clark

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!

More than enough costumes for everyone at a BN Halloween costume swap. © Liesl Clark

More than enough costumes for everyone at a Buy Nothing Halloween costume event. © Liesl Clark

About Pioneering The Simple Life

Filmmaker, Writer, Catalyst for Social Change

28 comments on “Buy Nothing Groups = Random Acts of Kindness All Day Long

  1. […] monumental. There are reusable alternatives, like these DIY washable menstrual pads that one of our Buy Nothing Project members makes. Introducing Emily Groff, a do-it-yourselfer who has found a great option for […]

  2. […] Can any of your remaining unwanted stuff be reused? Join your local Buy Nothing group, a gift economy where people share what they have with their neighbors. See if there’s a […]

  3. […] Read more: Random Acts of Kindness All Day Long […]

  4. People who are interested should also check in on “Freecycle”, which has operated successfully for a good while. I’m from Massachusetts but assume that people are freecycling in the Seattle area, too.

    • Hi Barbara! Freecycle is all over the greater Seattle region as well as in most of the regions where we have Buy Nothing groups. We’re quite different from Freecycle, however, and even started our groups as a direct result of having Freecycled for years. We prefer more transparent, community-minded groups where people aren’t giving and receiving anonymously as in Freecycle. In our groups, everyone witnesses the giving and receiving and people are allowed to comment on each give, express their gratitude to each other and generally connect in a collective way.

  5. […] and are still helping out whenever asked, it truly is an amazing community!!  THAT is what the Buy Nothing Project is about.  I highly recommend you see if they have one in your area and get involved in the pay it […]

  6. Is there one started in Orleans, Ontario Canada?

  7. I want to join the Graham group

  8. Love this !

  9. Am excited to find this kind of exchange in my own neighborhood!

  10. I love the philosophy of the “buy nothing” community. Volunteerism and sharing with others are foundational to my personal beliefs. I would love to see this movement grow in my area — Northern Kentucky/Greater Cincinnati.

  11. I am not a big computor person, I use a big slow windows nt, but first saw this site over a friend in southphilly, and I loved it!

  12. […] TWO: Can any of your unwanted stuff be reused? Join your local Buy Nothing group, a gift economy where people share what they have with their neighbors. Keeping our stuff in our […]

  13. Is there one in Ontario, California or Escondido, California?

    • Hi, Esther! Did you find the hyper-local Buy Nothing community group for your area? Below is the link for Buy Nothing Escondido. Just copy/paste the link for your neighborhood into your browser, which will then give you an option to ‘request to join.’ Thanks for your interest in our social experiment!

      https://www.facebook.com/groups/183140695216819/

  14. I moved to ellensburg wa in april of this year I have little boys close size 5 excellent condition pleas let me join

    • Hi, Debra! Did you find your hyper-local Buy Nothing community group? We have three groups in the Ellensburg area. Please have a look at the list, find the one where you live, and copy/paste the link for your neighborhood into your browser, which will then give you an option to ‘request to join.’ https://buynothingproject.org/find-a-group/ Thanks for your interest in our social experiment!

  15. Is there one in Albuquerque

    • Hi, Robin! Did you find your hyper-local Buy Nothing community group? Please have a look at the list, and copy/paste the link for your neighborhood into your browser, which will then give you an option to ‘request to join.’ We are adding new groups all the time or looking for someone who might be willing to start one if there isn’t one in their area!

      https://buynothingproject.org/find-a-group/ Thanks for your interest in our social experiment!

  16. So glad I found this site, I can see how it fosters, encourages community. Its, awesome. !!

  17. I had 5 full pizzas left over from my son’s b-day party and I had hungry folks stopping by within 20 minutes to help me eat them up while they were still hot! Much better than having them slowly going stale in my fridge.

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