Lesson 6.2 – Common Practices For A More Equitable & Accessible Sharing Experience
Safety & Physical Accessibility
We want to share with you some important and powerful tips that you can put into practice in your own Buy Nothing giving/asking/gratitude, tips you can share with your neighbors, to bring more racial justice, equity, safety, inclusion, and fuller participation for your entire community. First we want to show an example, by Laurel Lea
, of how a member asked her community how they could make their gift economy a safe and more equitable and inclusive place for all. (Our gratitude to the Buy Nothing Brighton/Dunlap, Seattle, WA group and Laurel Lea for writing this list up and allowing us to make it public, to her friend, Mark, who helped educate her, and to everyone who has added their own labor to the comments section of Laurel Lea’s original Facebook post.)
Laurel’s post focuses primarily on issues surrounding making people feel safe during pickups. Other situations that can affect pickups are physical accessibility issues. Is the place that you are giving from physically accessible for someone with a walker, with a cane, or in a wheelchair? Sharing information in your post about the physical accessibility of your home could change whether someone is able to comment requesting your item or not. And if your home is not physically accessible for all perhaps you could offer to drop off if that was a concern. Making sure your home numbers are clearly marked and/or you’ve sent a photo of your home may help those with visual disabilities as well as everyone else who hasn’t been to your place before.
Equitable & Accessible Language
But what about accessibility concerns in your posts? Language can make people feel included or excluded. Using the terms feminine and mascline when describing clothing instead of male/boy and female/girl is more inclusive of our trans and non-binary neighbors. And using color and other details in descriptions of other items can help too. For example writing, “Would anyone like this children’s bike? It’s got a pink seat, pink streamers coming from the handlebars, and there are pictures of My Little Ponies on the body of the bike.” These descriptions can also allow a person with a visual disability to gain information about your picture that they would not be able to get from the picture alone.
Another consideration for some people is allergens and what they might be exposed to when bringing items in from other people’s homes. If someone in your house smokes, if you have pets such as a cat or a dog, or you use products such as air freshener, scented detergents or soaps, that is helpful information for people with sensitivities. For some of us a scented detergent may just be annoying, but for others it may cause an allergic reaction. It’s true that the recipient could ask about any situations that could affect them as well. Doing so might draw out the process for you as the gifter and if you’d like to pick someone quickly, this information will help everyone make an informed decision about whether they would like to ask for your items or not.
Expand Your Awareness
What other accessibility concerns have you considered when gifting in your group? The things that are easy for us each individually to do are often things we don’t think about being hard for others. In looking at our own privileges we can help to make a more accessible and inclusive gifting community. Changing the way that you post in your gifting community may take a bit of time on your end. Doing the work can connect you to your neighbors in a positive way and open up space for conversations.
Here are some accessibility & awareness
posts to use in opening up these topics in your Buy Nothing community to support all your neighbors.
(Thanks to Juana Tango, Rebecca St. Martin, and any others who have spoken up to the Buy Nothing Project about accessibility concerns in Buy Nothing communities.)