How the Buy Nothing Project Changed My Way of Living

Buy new, buy now retail shopping is available to us every day, both online and in-store at massive shopping centres. A trip to the shops is familiar and convenient when we think we need something and we need it now. However, this accustomed way of shopping can lead to owning too much stuff and can be a big chunk of our finances.

Switching from a financial-based system such as retail shopping to a moneyless economy helps save our cash, increase our preference for choosing second-hand first and tap into the habits of being more thoughtful with what we need. This is much easier with the money-free sharing economy concept of the Buy Nothing Project – a global network that advocates the gift economy.

How the Buy Nothing Project Changed My Way of Living

Volunteering as a co-admin of my local Buy Nothing Project group helped our family delve deeper into living sustainably every day. We now rely on the generosity, gratitude and kindness of openly giving and receiving within our community.

Community connections are the most valuable part of being in the group

Initially, I joined for environmental reasons and discovered that community connections are the most valuable part of being in the group. These two reasons – environmental purposes and community connections – are why I’m passionate about being a part of my local Buy Nothing project.

Environmental Reasons

From a waste perspective, the most eco-conscious way to handle waste in the household is to refuse, reduce and reuse. Groups like the Buy Nothing Project strengthen how we can do that more effectively.

Buy Nothing Helps to Refuse

Since the 1950s, we’ve learned to become reliant on buying new. Viable alternatives, such as the Buy Nothing group, help disrupt the purchasing cycle and put Refuse to the fore when thinking sustainably.

Two of my laundry items needed replacing – the rusting portable clothes airer and the 15-year-old plastic washing basket that lost its handles and weakened from plastic disintegration. Even though these things bothered me, I could persist in using them until something more suitable cropped up in the group.

As a result, I now proudly own a new (never been used by the previous owner) portable clothes airer, a cane washing basket and a new copy of Stephanie Alexander’s Cook’s Companion Recipe book!

Taking note of what we need and waiting, where possible, is the best way to refuse buying new. 

Buy Nothing Helps to Reduce

Reducing goes two ways – to reduce the stuff we already own and what’s coming into our house. Intentionally clearing out and allow what comes in is a critical element for living sustainably. The book Outer Order Order Inner Calm suggests four key questions – Do I need it? Do I love it? Will I use it? Where does it belong? 

Gifting (Intentional Clean Out)

I’ve given away lots of little things – stuff that doesn’t take up lots of space but adds to clutter. Things like the 23-year-old wedding present Krosno wine bottle cooler we never used or the jigsaw puzzle I loved doing once, has a missing piece, and I know I won’t need to do it again. 

Gifting in the group is heartwarming to know it’s going to someone who’s keen and will appreciate it. In turn, this helps reduce the number of items going to landfill and the already-inundated op shops – which are more ruthless about whether they keep or toss a donated item. To clear out by gifting also frees up space in the home and our minds.

Receiving (Intentional Coming In)

Needing something deemed as a little obscure or you wouldn’t find easily in a shop? One way of receiving things in the group is asking for them, whether for keeps or to borrow.  

In our Buy Nothing group, borrowed items include glassware, crockery for a party, and a book that travels amongst the group. I’ve received things just because I asked. eg a specific novel for school, black trestle tablecloths for a one-off market, and stained or holey clothes to practise mending.

Giving, receiving, kindness, understanding, and appreciation are the foundational virtues for building a strong community spirit.

Connecting with our Hyperlocal Community

Sharing the community spirit has been the biggest changemaker in helping our local community become a stronger, more meaningful group. 

The five delightful benefits of being in your local Buy Nothing group are:

  • No need to travel far to give and receive, as your neighbourhood is central to the group
  • Open, honest and trustworthy communication, flowing from the written word to simple in-person conversations
  • Evolving things-in-common relationships may happen, meeting other like-minded people in your neighbourhood.
  • Inclusivity of everyone, regardless of financial circumstances. The group ideals challenge the concept that giving things away for free is only for people who are in struggling circumstances.
  • Giving and sharing creatively

Listen to my interview with ABC Newcastle, chatting about the benefits of belonging to your local Buy Nothing group.

Giving & receiving within our hyperlocal community has so much value that it’s priceless! Compared to freebies on platforms like Facebook marketplace, the importance of patience, acceptance, understanding, gratitude, and kindness shines more meaningfully in the group.

The Buy Nothing group helps us establish a positive step in becoming a more mindful consumer, which helps us live with less and reduces reliance on monetary value and cost.

Milkwood Permaculture sums this value of community up so well “the fabric of your community interweaves, everyone gets to know each other a little more, and life gets a little better, each time you engage.”

Let Buy Nothing Become a Habit

Belonging to your local Buy Nothing group helps support your environmental purposes and establish great community connections. 

Rather than being a replacement model for a money-based economy, we can use the gifting economy as a balanced approach to help us live more sustainably.

We’ll learn to understand our tangible-stuff wants & needs and share in the spirit of community through kindness and patience. So let’s make buying nothing our habit of thinking every day of the year.

Some links in this post are affiliate links, meaning I may receive a commission if you choose to make a purchase. I only recommend products and services I know are valuable to living sustainably.

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