Social · Environmental · Article

Reduce, Reuse, Relate: How the Buy Nothing Project Works

Morgan RobinsonMorgan Robinson
February 18, 2023
youB member since 2022
15 publications
Values this work is based on:
Purpose: The Buy Nothing Project shows how zero waste can build community. Giving and receiving with gratitude and finding wealth with neighbors, not money.
4m Read

I live in a very close-knit community. We embrace a zero-waste mindset. I have been a member of my local Buy Nothing group for several years. In fact, I am in the second spin-off group. There is so much enthusiasm, we have four groups in our two-square-mile town. It’s the first place I turn when I have something to give. Learning to ask takes more effort for me, but I have done both. And the results are more responsible consumption and pure community.

The Buy Nothing Project is a worldwide network of hyper-local gift economies that aims to build community, reduce waste, and promote sustainable living. It is a simple idea: people give what they have and ask for what they need, all without money changing hands. The project is based on the principle that every community has abundant resources, and that by sharing these resources with each other, we can strengthen our communities and create a more sustainable future.

Liesl Clark and Rebecca Rockefeller had the idea for The Buy Nothing Project after years of collecting plastics that washed up on their local beach on Bainbridge Island, Washington. Seeing that most of it was household waste, they wanted to do something to stave off the plastics that seep into our every ecosystem

What began as a small Facebook group in 2013 has since grown into a global movement with more than 128,000 groups in 44 countries. Each group is organized around a specific neighborhood or community, and members are encouraged to give and receive freely within that community.

The Buy Nothing Project embraces the following principles:

  • We believe our hyper-local groups strengthen the social fabric of their communities, and ensure the health and vitality of each member.
  • We come from a place of abundance ~ not scarcity.
  • We believe in abundance, we give, we ask, we share, we lend, and we express gratitude.
  • We are a gift economy, not a charity. We see no difference between want and need, waste and treasure.
  • We do not buy, sell, trade, barter, or otherwise exchange money for items or services.
  • We measure wealth by the personal connections made and trust between people.
  • We value people and their stories and narratives above the ‘stuff.’
  • We are inclusive at our core.
  • We value honesty and integrity in all our interactions.
  • We view all gifts as equal; the human connection is the value.
  • We believe every community has the same wealth of generosity and abundance.

One of the key benefits of the Buy Nothing Project is that it encourages people to think differently about their possessions. Instead of seeing their belongings as things to be accumulated and hoarded, members are encouraged to view them as resources to be shared and circulated within the community. This not only helps to reduce waste and consumption, but also strengthens social connections and builds a sense of community.

Another benefit of the Buy Nothing Project is that it provides a way for people to access resources they may not otherwise have. For example, someone may need a tool or a piece of furniture for a short period of time, and rather than buying it or renting it, they can borrow it from someone in their community. This reduces the need for people to own things they only use infrequently, which in turn reduces waste and consumption.

Overall, the Buy Nothing Project is a powerful example of how small, grassroots movements can have a big impact on the world. By encouraging people to share their resources and build connections with their neighbors, the project is helping to create a more sustainable and equitable future. If you\’re interested in getting involved, visit the Buy Nothing Project website to find a group in your area.

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The Buy Nothing Project shows us how zero waste can build community through giving from abundance, and receiving with gratitude. How we can find wealth with neighbors instead of money.
Reduce, Reuse, Relate: How the Buy Nothing Project Works