The Evolution of the Buy Nothing Project

The Buy Nothing Project is a network of hyper-local gift economies with the founding principle of “Give Where You Live.” Buy Nothing Bainbridge was co-founded by Liesl Clark and Rebecca Rockefeller in July 2013 as the inaugural Buy Nothing Project group. By the end of 2013, there were 80 Buy Nothing groups in the United States and Canada. Throughout 2014, over 350 more groups had been added to the project. By the end of 2015, that number had nearly doubled, with groups in 18 countries worldwide. The project continues to grow by leaps and bounds.

The only way we can truly fulfill our hyper-local focus, and realize our goal of helping one another get to know our real-life neighbors and share our bounty is to get back to our roots and ask why we started the project in the first place. Ultimately, we’d like to be such a success that our groups would no longer be needed, we’d know our nearby neighbors, their needs and habits, and help each other without this social media platform. However, we’re still a long way from this true gift-economy model.

In a large group of people, 1000 and beyond, you will never get to know everyone. Groups that grow beyond 1,500 members could easily be 3,000 members a year later, and the person-to-person connection would be diminished by size even more. How great would it be if you knew most of your neighbors nearby where you live? And you weren’t creating extra carbon emissions by driving around to do pickups because you can just walk down the street or bike to your giving/borrowing/receiving destinations? Someday, this will be a reality.

From the outset, the plan has always been to have local, neighborhood groups. And so when each group reaches these milestone membership numbers, we recommend a large group is replaced by several smaller groups. During this process we call sprouting, each group has new boundaries and all of the members of the original group are asked to join only one new group. The larger group is then archived so that the giving can continue, once again on a hyper-local scale.

If you have any questions about the Mission and Principles of the Buy Nothing Project, or about the sprouting process, please feel free to contact a member of your local admins or Regional Team for your group. We also have FAQs that may help answer your questions. Thank you so much for joining us in this amazing experiment, and for making this community, and this Project the amazing place that it is!

Do you have questions about how your group is run or need clarification about specific rules? Please review our Member Resources page: Member Resources.