Buy Nothing Project COVID-19 Statement


We know there are concerns about people sharing items, and possibly transmitting the virus to each other this way. We must all take this seriously. It is absolutely critical that everyone follow all public health directions and recommendations regarding how to treat objects. It appears that this novel coronavirus can live for hours or days on all sorts of surfaces, from our car keys and cell phones to groceries and gifts. It seems a matter of common sense that we should each focus now on being mindful about what we bring into our homes, and on treating all objects that enter our homes with informed care. 

A growing number of people around the world are under local, state/provincial, or national orders to STAY HOME, and are only allowed to leave for essential reasons. Each such order MUST be followed. ALL ACTIVITIES in Buy Nothing Project groups, as in every other group of any type, MUST BE LEGAL. Emergency orders are being issued and are changing quickly, and EVERYONE MUST ADJUST THEIR ACTIONS IN ACCORDANCE WITH THESE ORDERS. 

If you are unhappy with anything happening in your local Buy Nothing Project group, you must bring your concerns directly to the only people who can take action: the volunteer admins of your local group. 

The Buy Nothing Project is a movement of locally-managed gift economy groups; each local group is an independent Facebook group, managed by local volunteers. Only a group’s local volunteers have the power to make decisions or take action to guide their group. The Buy Nothing Project founders have no control over what happens in each local group around the world, but we continue to implore everyone to follow all laws and public health orders, to adhere to all public health suggestions and directions, to take responsibility for giving, receiving, and sharing safely (when sharing is legal and allowed at all), and to remember that we each participate at our own risk.

We must each take responsibility to seek out the most current information from reliable sources such as the World Health Organization, national experts such as the CDC and Dr Anthony Fauci of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases in the US, and all local public health officials. We must each put this information into practice to protect others as well as ourselves.

This pandemic is growing and changing rapidly, and none of us know yet how long we will be advised to follow social distancing, social isolation, or quarantine orders. It is likely that most of us will need supplies from outside our homes at some point. All objects that come from outside our homes, whether they’re arriving in packages, are picked up from grocery stores or pharmacies, or are given as gifts between neighbors, need to be treated with the same care and diligence.

We are in a situation in which we can pose a danger to each other and also be each others’ saving grace. We ask everyone to combine respect for the law and public health orders, the best scientific knowledge available to stop transmission of this virus, and compassionate action to help each other safely. 

We know how important it is for us to stay connected to each other, to look out for each other, in as many safe ways as possible. Even when it is unwise or illegal to give items to each other, there are many other ways we can help each other that do not involve the movement of items from one person to another. For instance, there are many gifts of self that we can offer to each other that require no disinfectant: the gift of checking in each day via social media/text/phone/video chat; the gifts of communication and company, education and entertainment delivered along these same paths. We encourage local Buy Nothing Project groups to explore this sort of safe sharing during these troubled times.

In short: FOLLOW THE LAW AND ALL PUBLIC HEALTH ORDERS. BE SAFE. BE CAREFUL. BE COMPASSIONATE. BE INFORMED. We are in this together and must find a way to help each other through this safely.

– Liesl Clark & Rebecca Rockefeller, co-founders and co-volunteers at the Buy Nothing Project

updated 22 March 2020

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