About

Buy Nothing. Give Freely. Share Creatively.

The Buy Nothing Project began when two friends, Rebecca Rockefeller and Liesl Clark, created an experimental hyper-local gift economy on Bainbridge Island, WA, in July, 2013. Since then, it has become a worldwide social movement, with groups in 30 nations. Local groups form gift economies that are complementary and parallel to local cash economies; whether people join because they’d like to quickly get rid of things that are cluttering their lives, or simply to save money by getting things for free, they quickly discover that our groups are not just another free recycling platform. A gift economy’s real wealth is the people involved and the web of connections that forms to support them. Time and again, members of our groups find themselves spending more and more time interacting in our groups, finding new ways to give back to the community that has brought humor, entertainment, and yes, free stuff into their lives. The Buy Nothing Project is about setting the scarcity model of our cash economy aside in favor of creatively and collaboratively sharing the abundance around us.

The gift of flowers. © Liesl Clark
The gift of flowers. © Liesl Clark

How does the Buy Nothing Project work? Using the free platform provided by Facebook Groups and our open source documents, people set up their own Buy Nothing Project groups for their own neighborhoods. members can easily participate with their local group. 

Many people ask, “Why use Facebook?” When this project started, Facebook was the primary free social media platform with group architecture. Our shift to an open source model opens up new possibilities. You can use our tools to set up a non-commercial, non-monetized Buy Nothing Project group wherever you would like. We have a volunteer support network well established for Buy Nothing Project Facebook groups, but nothing like that yet for other platforms.

Our co-founders, Liesl and Rebecca, are excited to see this experiment grow well beyond and away from Facebook, and are doing their part by building a crowd-funded and maintained social media platform with a purpose, soop.

In April, 2020, Simon & Schuster will be publishing Liesl and Rebecca’s first book, The Buy Nothing, Get Everything Plan. This book will be available at your local public library, bookstores everywhere, and online; you can preorder a copy if you’d like via Simon & Schuster today. The book offers a blue print for every person to build their own gift economy mindset, no social media required.

Buy Nothing Project rules are simple: 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. No hate speech. No buying or selling, no trades or bartering, we’re strictly a gift economy.

The Buy Nothing Project Connects Us With Our Neighbors. © Liesl Clark
The Buy Nothing Project Connects Us With Our Neighbors. © Liesl Clark

Why the Buy Nothing Project? The Buy Nothing Project is brought to you by two friends who have worked hard to address the first of the three infamous “Rs,” Reducing, Reusing, and Recycling. Rebecca and Liesl want to address the “Reduce” part of the equation, as well as the lesser-known Rs, “Refuse” and “Rethink.”

Participating in a local Buy Nothing Project group allows individuals and communities to reduce their own dependence on single-use and virgin materials by extending the life of existing items through gifting and sharing between group members. Rethinking consumption and refusing to buy new in favor of asking for an item from a neighbor may make an impact on the amount of goods manufactured in the first place, which in turn may put a dent in the overproduction of unnecessary goods that end up in our landfills, watersheds, and our seas. It most certainly creates connections between people who see each other in real life, not just online, leading to more robust communities that are better prepared to tackle both hard times and good by giving freely.

Sharing builds trust between members, and this trust allows groups to grow quickly and encourages people to both give freely and ask for what they need; everything from toilet paper roll springs to rides home from the doctor; burial sites for beloved pets to freshly-baked bread and casseroles have been given freely. Participants share things mundane and meaningful in equal measure, and throughout it all connect with each other by means of the shared personal stories and chatting.

Buy Nothing Project groups are diverting more materials from our landfills and oceans than we can possibly quantify, as hundreds of items are re-homed each day. Along with this positive environmental impact, neighbors are getting to know and trust each other, building relationships that see them through all of life’s challenges and celebrations.

Bounty.RebeccaRockefeller
Gifts Take Many Forms © Rebecca Rockefeller

Our Statistics:

As of January, 2020 the Buy Nothing Project has at least 1.2 million participants in at least 25 countries, led by at least 6,000 volunteers.

Structure:

We are a completely grass-roots, all-volunteer project with no funding to run this movement. The reach of this movement is all thanks to individuals who set up groups and serve their communities as leaders, the people who volunteer their time as mentors and guides for other group leaders, and everyone who contributes their time, expertise, and talents. We follow a true gift economy model. We thank all of you for making this collaborative project what it is.

Want to know more?

Read about our Mission and Principles, join an existing group for your neighborhood, or join the movement by starting a group in your neighborhood today!

138 thoughts

  1. I would love to start this group in my little town of Tooele Utah! Let me know what I need to do too get started. Thanks!

  2. Hello!! I love this strategy. It rocks with all I am becoming, as well as many, many of my beautiful neighbors. Please let me know how to get started!!! Thank-you very much! KatieB

  3. I can’t wait to start my local buy nothing group! My little community is so ready for this!!

  4. Hey Angie, I’m in SLC (and from the Bainbridge area) and I think this is great. I’ll help support if there’s still interest. Lemme know: s_lamar[at]hotmail.com

  5. Hi Kim 🙂 thanks for your enthusiasm for the Buy Nothing Project! The mission of the BNP is to foster hyper-local gift economies, so a network of community groups is growing around the world. If you check this list, perhaps there already is a group in your community : https://buynothingproject.org/find-a-group/ If it isn’t listed, and you’re interested in starting a group for your neighborhood, let us know! We would be happy to review the details with you.

  6. Hi Leigha ! we’d love to see the Buy Nothing Project take root in Bloomington, IN too … We just need a local volunteer to join us as an admin (our entire network is run by volunteers). Let us know if you’re interested!
    ~ Shelley

  7. Would love to join a group in Salt Lake City! I have a lot of things to give away to someone who would really use and appreciate them.

  8. Hi Michelle ! Thank you for your interest in joining a local group in the Buy Nothing Project network. There isn’t a group yet for Salt Lake City, and we’d love to see one started in your community … We just need a local volunteer to join us as an admin (our entire network is run by volunteers). Let us know if you’re interested!
    ~ Shelley

  9. I learned about this project from a Fox News story that was ran this morning. Since then I reached out right away and have already spoken with Shelley about starting a group in my area. I am so excited by this. I have been going through my house all day thinking of things I can give away! I cannot wait to get started!— Tonya

  10. I’m downsizing and have a couple nice things to pass on. I already quit facebook almost two years ago and do not plan on going back. Am I out of luck?

  11. Hi Jordan, People often ask us why we chose Facebook as our platform for The Buy Nothing Project. 1) It’s free; 2) Most of our friends and neighbors are on Facebook; and 3) It’s transparent. Transparency is the key ingredient to keeping a gift economy sustainable over time. Though there are some limitations to Facebook, the BNP is a network of groups completely run by Volunteers, without a budget (or time) to put the effort required into developing and maintaining a stand-alone site at this time. Thanks for your interest in the Project!
    ~ Shelley

  12. I would be willing to be an Admin for a Buy Nothing FB for Whidbey Island South. I see there is a FB page for Whidbey Island North.

    What do I need to do to get started?

    Thank You

  13. This is one of the most fantastic ideas I have ever heard. I will be trying it starting today. I’m tired of the capitalistic society that we live in. I will use all of my social interaction and connection to the Nth degree to bring this movement closer for the greater good of everything with best intention, motivation and action.

  14. Hi Ericka, thanks for your enthusiastic response to the mission of the Buy Nothing Project. If you’re interested in starting a group for your community, do let us know. We just need a local volunteer to join us as admin (our entire network is run by volunteers). Send an email to thebuynothingproject@gmail.com with your city, suburb or township name, and we’ll get started!
    ~ Shelley

  15. Hi Munira 🙂 there isn’t a Buy Nothing group yet in Nutley or Monclair, and we’d love to see a gift economy started for your community … We just need a local volunteer to join us as admin (our entire network is run by volunteers). Let us know if you’re interested!
    ~ Shelley

  16. Is there already one in downtown Seattle? I’ve available to help and have things and talents to offer.

  17. Omg my family has lived in your town for years, I was shocked to see the town name! I feel like we are neighbors lol, I’m in NE Tacoma, WA. Take care

  18. Hi Belinda, did you find your hyper-local Buy Nothing community group? Below is the link for the Washington State groups, if you scroll down you will see there are at least 25 groups covering the greater Seattle area. 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://buynothingproject.org/find-a-group/#WA

  19. Hi Kathy, Thank you for your interest in joining a local group in the Buy Nothing Project network. Facebook Groups have different levels that can be set, and the BNProject uses the ‘closed’ setting for all groups, which means that member’s posts are only visible to those who are a member of the group. When you find the group for your community, all you have to do is click on ‘request to join’ and you should soon then be receiving a message from the local admin, who is confirming that you are a real person (not a spambot profile) and that you reside within the boundaries for the group. Let us know if you have any further questions!
    Warm regards,
    Shelley

  20. I am very blessed to live in the Houghton neighborhood and my back fence neighbors shared this with me
    They were I thought having a garage sale since they were sadly planning a move
    I stopped by to take a look and found a set of stunning gorgeous dishes that are pieces of art I asked what they were asking for one plate knowing there was no way I could afford even one
    She said everything was free with a big smile
    I’m happy to share that I’m on a very fixed income waiting for social security disability
    I can’t wait to pay it forward
    I love to give of my time and can watch people’s dogs at my house if anyone needs help
    Feel free to email me
    Thanks you for spreading this
    It has blessed me and many others
    I LOVE IT PAY IT FORWARD

  21. I love this group. We are part of The Key Peninsula group of Gig Harbor, WA. It really does help you get to know your neighbors. Never before have I felt more connected to an area than I do now, all because of this group. We also have weekly meet ups to gift items easier. This project has been a great blessing to us and has enabled us to be a blessing to others, as well . Thank you for that. 🙂

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