Anyone who knows me at all recognizes that among the many things I am passionate about, a top contender is preserving our environment. And one important way to do that is through repurposing of items.
That’s why when one of my friends told me about a Facebook group called The Buy Nothing Project, I was more than intrigued. Now keep in mind, I hardly get on Facebook and rarely post anything so this was certainly not in my comfort zone. But the concept was definitely right up my alley.
So, I went exploring on the page. It was super easy to join the group by answering three simple questions to determine that I was in the right geographical group.
Buy Nothing has eight different neighborhood groups around Fort Wayne including the northside, downtown and all ‘round. Our Buy Nothing Waynedale/Foster Park/Indian Village group is for neighbors south of Home Ave, West of Fairfield, East of Ardmore, and North of Airport Expressway, Fort Wayne, IN. Check out this link to make sure where you fall so you can “Give where you live”. www.google.com/maps/d/u/0/edit?mid=1b4ysoEDSQ2B1iF5t_0SLy7uMznnxoNVT
Curtis Liberalis is responsible for bringing the Buy Nothing group to our neck of the woods in early 2019. He helps other groups get established and is currently working with individuals from Buy Nothing groups in the Huntington and Leo areas. He is an administrator along with two other individuals, Chelsea Hart-Shilling and Ashley Kick, who oversee the activity of the currently over 650 members and growing. They prompt people who have questions, are not following the guidelines, and occasionally deleting them if necessary for not abiding by the rules.
The rules are simple: Participate as yourself; Keep it legal; Keep it civil; Participate at your own risk; Respect your neighbors – their privacy, their property; Give freely; Give from your own abundance; Buy Nothing is a gift economy; and Ask, give, and share creatively. The full explanation of each rule is on the page.
When I spoke with Curtis, his genuine passion for Buy Nothing was obvious. One of the group members, Michelle Zeigler states “Curtis was the perfect person to get the ball rolling in our area. He is very personable and really cares about people.”
Curtis tells me “Buy Nothing helps foster community in an age where it is difficult to feel community. We are neighbors helping each other.” His example of when people used to go to the neighbor next door to borrow a cup of sugar really resonated with me. I feel blessed that I can do that in my neighborhood but not all people feel comfortable doing so. Curtis says, “Every day is full of really good feels, there is consistent kindness, people sharing with one another.”
In the Buy Nothing group, you must begin each post with a header:
GIFT – You are giving something away. As the “gifter”, you make the decision on who receives it. Members generally comment why they would like to be considered for the gift. That helps you make your decision. You may choose to let the item “simmer” for a few days to see what additional responses come in. Once you decide who gets the gift, most people typically arrange privately to pick up or leave the item on their front porch for immediate pick up. Remember you are all within a couple of miles of each other.
ASK – You are in need of something. You simply watch and keep your fingers crossed that another member has whatever item you seek sitting unused in their attic or garage and you might end up with it.
GRATITUDE – This is really fulfilling to watch as people post pictures of the received items in their new homes and in use. Truly a cheery feeling.
Bethann Matthews states “Our local Buy Nothing group seems to be unique. Many of us have become closely connected. I’ve seen deep friendships and incredible acts of service among the members of our group. It has been invaluable to me as a single mom of special needs kids in terms of clearing clutter and receiving things we have need of, but it is the relationships that have been built that are truly priceless.”
The concept of nothing going to waste is significant in a world where our landfills are full and people are in need. I find following the posts intriguing. Items vary, ranging from an ice maker to clothing, live plants to extra meals. Nothing is considered too insignificant to share.
Another longtime member of the group, Ann Petro agrees, “It feels good to be able to give someone an item they ask for and I especially love finding a home for things I no longer want but another person is excited to receive. I’ve seen the group rally around a mother with a special needs child, showering her with caring words, a hot meal, and thoughtful gifts in addition to the box of diapers she asked for! Dresses for special occasions have been borrowed and gifted instead of purchased. I asked for a sleeping bag for a friend going to camp and had one gifted to me in a couple hours. This is the way neighbors are supposed to be.”
I stepped out of my comfort zone and took the plunge. My first ASK, looking for shelving to use in the storage unit for Waynedale event supplies hasn’t had a nibble yet, but I may get lucky!