Going green and treating people better in our communities – these are two things I think our world needs more of these days, and have both been my mind a lot this past year. I deeply want to live an eco-friendly life and to inspire others to as well… we are getting to a point where the planet cannot take the abuse anymore and it is going to take a collective awakening to make a change, hopefully before it is too late.
I think about it a lot as I do things for my family. Having a kid is wonderful, but it also feels very wasteful. All the plastic packages baby stuff comes in, the parties with one-use decorations, the toys that are fun for a week but forgotten shortly after… it is very materialistic and creates a lot of short-term use of things that are quickly disposed into landfills. I have donated bags upon bags of this ‘stuff’, but never got the feeling it was really ending up somewhere good; it seemed a better solution must be out there. Items I felt were special or valuable would often end up on “Offer Up”, but many times meeting up to exchange the item ended up becoming more of a hassle than it was worth, especially for me as a working mom.
Through some Facebook ‘mom group’ buzz, I had heard of this thing called the “Buy Nothing Project” and eventually decided to dive in a little deeper and see what it was all about. I googled the project and found their website, outlining this wonderful concept of a community giving group. There are a few key ideas behind the group… think random acts of kindness meets “one man’s junk is another man’s treasure” meets loving your neighbor.
The idea is simple. A hyper-local Facebook group where you can post a “Give” (an item you want to get rid of for free), or an “Ask” (something you need that the community might have). People reply and ask if they can receive your free item/service, or they can respond to your ask and gift you what you are looking for at no cost.
One thing that initially surprised me about the “Buy Nothing Project” was that it was WORLDWIDE! It is not in every country, but many are represented such as the entire United States, Canada, Mexico, the U.K., India and France. To simply find your group, you can click HERE on the ‘find a group’ portion of the Buy Nothing website and there is a massive directory. If your area is not represented you can email them to request a territory be added!
The next thing that surprised me about the Buy Nothing group I joined was the true sense of community and selfless giving that instantly came through. I think my first day in the group I saw a woman’s post who needed some help with plumbing and didn’t have the finances to cover paying a professional – she posted an ‘ask’ for help, a few replies popped up offering a hand, and the same day with a little neighborly help her kitchen was back up and running. Some of the gifts seemed so weird to me at first… you will see anything from someone giving away half a batch of cookies they just made because they don’t want to eat them all, to people gifting extra gravel stones from a project, and even shrubs in their yard they don’t want anymore! There are of course more practical ‘gives’ such as furniture, children’s clothing and electronics.
Getting back to my original mention of going green – one of the best parts of the whole thing is that all items are free and re-purposed! You are taking something that someone would otherwise toss in the trash and giving it a new home. It has been so great to find toys and clothing for my daughter that don’t have all of that garbage packaging attached, and when she is done with the items I will just recycle them as a gift in this giving group for the next family to use. It also feels great when someone posts an “ask” and I know that I have the exact item they are looking for sitting in my closet collecting dust, and can now brush it off and pass it along for someone to actually use.
The whole experience has been wonderful so far. I was cautious when first joining, but now love that I am slowly getting to know my neighbors and also positively contribute to my community. I think my most surprising interaction so far was a night my husband and I had a special dinner planned – I was going to make creme brulee for dessert only to not be able to find a torch to properly finish my dish at local stores. I posted a last-minute completely ridiculous ask… “does anyone have a culinary brulee torch I could borrow tonight??”… within an hour my neighbor around the corner responded with a yes and packaged all her supplies up for me to borrow for the evening. I couldn’t believe it! The next day we returned the supplies to her along with an extra ramekin of my homemade creme brulee to say thank you for her troubles. Within the next few weeks I plan to purge some of my daughter’s forgotten toys, and split up some herb plant starters to share as I have a few bushes that are growing too large. I look forward to the de-cluttering of my house and yard, and also to giving back to my neighbors!
I have linked the “Buy Nothing Project” several times in this post, but for quick access here is where you can find them online!
I hope this post inspires you to find a local group and do some giving too 🙂
X.O. – Abbey Co.