Have you heard of the Buy Nothing Project yet? If you haven’t, you should hurry over to their website and see if there’s a group in your area. It’s an awesome way to save money, as well as to get involved in your community and to go green by repurposing all kinds of items. Buy Nothing has been a great resource for both my piano studio and my family!
The Buy Nothing Project is an international social movement based on a gift-giving economy. As the name implies, it’s purpose is to help people avoid buying more things. The groups are run on facebook and are hyperlocal, so if you’re in a larger city, you’d participate in a group for your part of town.
There are several things that make a Buy Nothing group unique. Unlike most Facebook groups, the use of abbreviations is discouraged. People communicate with complete, polite sentences. It’s really refreshing to encounter such pleasant interactions online! Members are encouraged to share personal tidbits about why they would like to be considered for a gift or how they would use an item. Once you receive an item, posting pictures of how you’re using the item and expressing gratitude to the giver is common. All interactions take place publicly on the group for complete transparency (except for exchanging pick-up details for an item.)
In the group you can offer something as a “give”. You do not attach a price or a value to it and you are not obligated to give it to the first person who expresses interest in it. You can creatively select the recipient of your gift such as choosing someone at random, someone you know, someone you don’t know, or someone with an intriguing story about why they would like the gift.
You can also “ask” to have or borrow things, and again it’s encouraged that you share a little bit about why you are asking for something or how you plan to use it. Asks are fun because it can be small practical things, or big “wishful thinking” items. You never know what someone is ready to give!
I joined a little more than a year ago. Initially, it appealed to me as a way to pass along things we weren’t using around the house any more and to acquire things for my kids that they might need temporarily. I had no idea that I was joining an amazing and generous community and that it would benefit my piano studio so much as well!
My area of town has a very active and well run group. It’s super handy to be able to put out an “ask” before heading to the store to buy something. Over the past year my studio has received so many generous gifts and it’s been a nice way to repurpose things and save some money.
We’ve received office supplies like mechanical pencils and printable labels. A couple of months ago, I needed a few more drums for our drum circle in Preschool Music Class, and I was able to get another drum through Buy Nothing. A lot of great prizes have come along that I’ve been able to use to motivate my students, including a Twenty One Pilots t-shirt for my biggest Twenty One Pilots fan.
From time to time, I pull piano books out of my personal library that don’t get much use, and it’s nice to be able to offer them to the group. I’ve also found a home for a lot of left over materials from studio events like recitals and camps.
As for non-studio gifts, my family has been the recipient of some really generous “gives”! We’ve received Fiesta dishes, a dresser, a bike trailer, my daughter’s bike, baby gear, toys and games for the kids, children’s clothing and shoes, books, Christmas lights, kitchen gadgets and much more. Some things we keep, somethings we borrow and occasionally we receive a gift, use it for a bit then re-offer it to the group.
I try to do a few big purges of things around our house throughout the year. Buy Nothing is a great way to re-home our unused items because we know the recipient will love and use what we give them.
I especially love when someone asks for something in the group, and I can fulfill their ask with something I hadn’t thought to give previously.
I highly encourage you to check out your local group! In addition to the satisfaction of giving and receiving, it’s also been a fantastic way to connect with others in my community!