The Buy Nothing Project Is Building A Custom Sharing App

We’re excited to share some big news with the world. We’re finally actively building a custom platform for Buy Nothing sharing, a BuyNothing app where we can each Buy Nothing & Share Everything. We’re just in the beginning stages of development, but our plan is for it to be a free experience for everyone to Give, Ask, and share their Gratitude on any device. We’ll be able to add features that will address the pain points we experience with the Facebook Groups architecture as well as add some new features we think people will really love. Our app will not replace the Buy Nothing Project, it will be a platform built from scratch to host the Buy Nothing movement as it continues to grow.

FAQs:
Will the Buy Nothing Facebook groups remain as they are? PLEASE KNOW, THE FACEBOOK BUY NOTHING GROUPS WILL BE HERE AS LONG AS PEOPLE WOULD LIKE TO LEAD AND USE THEM. You will be able to continue in your Facebook groups as you have been, and you and your group participants will also be able to use our new platform as well. We believe it will provide a new way of sharing for all users, and it will evolve to meet our needs as Givers and Askers, in sharing and conserving our abundant resources, over time. Our open source movement allows groups to exist wherever people want to build them. We believe our app will be the best home for Buy Nothing groups, and we invite you to help us build it to meet your wants and needs. 

How do I sign up? We’d love for you and your fellow community members to sign up on our waitlist to be the first users of the app. You can find it here: https://www.buynothing.live/

Can I invite my friends? Yes! The only way our new BuyNothing app will work for you is if enough of your friends and neighbors join, too. Please go to our public Facebook page and share our announcement there with your group.

We hope to have several community clusters as part of our beta testing, so if you have a community of people you know would like to try sharing on BuyNothing, please urge your friends and neighbors to sign up for the waitlist. We’ll keep track of the clusters and be in touch to invite you to be our earliest adopters. We define a cluster as a group of at least 50 people. 

What is the timing for the BuyNothing app? We aim to roll BuyNothing out in May of 2021. In other words: Soon! 

Why are you building this BuyNothing app? We have heard, loudly and clearly, from Buy Nothing participants over the years. We are building our custom app to address existing issues and to expand the impact and scope of our original Buy Nothing Project experiment.  We’ve categorized the concerns that have been shared with us by tens of thousands of people into the following, and we are building the BuyNothing app from the ground up to address these issues: 

Facebook: Every day we hear from people who want to participate in the Buy Nothing Project but are not willing to use Facebook, or are in the process of de-activating their Facebook accounts. 

No Group In The Area: Thousands of people want to join our movement, but there are no Buy Nothing Facebook groups in their area and don’t have the time or inclination to set up a new group. 

Difficulty Joining a Group: Thousands of people contact us because they’ve requested to join existing Buy Nothing groups on Facebook but have been unable to contact group admins or have been somehow lost in the shuffle. 

Inactive groups: Out of the over 6000 Buy Nothing groups that are in existence today, some of the groups have admins who are inactive, so the membership queues to join the groups have thousands of people waiting to get in, to share. 

Boundaries: We recognize that Buy Nothing geographic group boundaries are a construct that can serve to exclude members of society, either consciously or unconsciously. In many places, group boundaries serve to divide communities along lines that reflect systemic injustice and segregation. 

Inclusion, Accessibility, Equity and Justice: These are goals we’ve been working towards, but too often our intent has not matched our impact. 

Custom Features: For 7.5 years, we’ve built a network of hyper-local gift economies using Facebook Groups. We’ve outgrown this architecture and are ready for a platform that wants to rush to meet this movement’s needs. With our BuyNothing app, we can serve the Buy Nothing movement, building a platform that will include features we know Buy Nothing community groups and participants need to thrive, based on everything we’ve learned so far as well as user surveys and interviews that are currently underway. We’re also dreaming of new custom features that will allow each of us to expand our Buy Nothing impact; make sharing gifts of stuff and self easier, more inclusive, and more equitable; and empower us to track our collective impact on society and our beautiful planet. We have a blank slate to work with, and many ideas we’d like to see come to fruition in the future.

How is this app being funded? We tried to do user subscription funding for our first go at this, with SOOP, and found that we weren’t able to raise enough to get it off the ground. We returned the funds to those of you who contributed (thank you!) and went back to the drawing board. We’ve joined forces with Tunji Williams and Lucas Rix to form ShareThing, a B-Corp funded by angel seed investors (our friends and family) who are willing to help fund our build of the MVP (Minimum Viable Product) BuyNothing app. Working on this app as ShareThing allows us to preserve the noncommercial social movement aspect of the Buy Nothing Project independent from the construction and maintenance of this new mobile and web app. This will be a solid v1.0 starting point with the important basic functions that allow each of us to Buy Nothing, Share Everything. We will not be paid for this labor of building the MVP because we want to target our resources directly into app development. If we attract and retain users, then we can look for larger angel investors so we can scale the app for hundreds of thousands, even millions, of users. At that point, we’d be able to work full-time maintaining the platform, supporting its communities and users, and adding features to bring a gift economy abundance mindset and lifestyle to the world. We won’t know how this app will be sustainably funded over time to keep it going beyond the build and the scaling phases until we get there, but we will be transparent about the processes involved and about those who join our team in bringing this platform forward.

Thank you so much for participating in the Buy Nothing Project social experiment. It is abundantly clear to us that gift economies work well for groups of people and we’re excited to launch into this next iteration of the project so we can more readily share wherever we are, equitably, and freely. We’re focusing our energy on building our BuyNothing app, so we’ll be answering all of your questions and soliciting your feedback via our forum at buynothing.live – Please join us there, as we won’t be able to answer comments here. 

Rebecca Rockefeller & Liesl Clark
Co-Founders & Co-Volunteers
The Buy Nothing Project

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