Free stuff is the spice of life, and we want as much of it as we can get. The Buy Nothing Project is a bit more ambitious than free stickers and key chains, though. The idea is that we have everything we need in our community, so what if we started sharing instead of selling?
The Buy Nothing Project explains itself on its website: “Our local groups form gift economies that are complementary and parallel to local cash economies; whether people join because they’d like to quickly get rid of things that are cluttering their lives, or simply to save money by getting things for free, they quickly discover that our groups are not just another free recycling platform. A gift economy’s real wealth is the people involved and the web of connections that forms to support them. The Buy Nothing Project is about setting the scarcity model of our cash economy aside in favor of creatively and collaboratively sharing the abundance around us.”
The local chapter of the gift economy is connected largely through Facebook. If you’d like to join, you have to meet two requirements.
First of all, one must be over 21 to join. This is because alcohol can be gifted and that makes it too easy for minors to slip through the cracks.
Second, one must be within the hyper-local region of the group. Buy Nothing strives to pull communities together, and so one must be a part of the community.
Cheryl Baker is the current admin of the local group, but is searching for another admin to take over.
“I’ve recently taken on the role of Regional Admin for all of Oregon, so my responsibilities have changed. I still help to keep an eye on my own local group, but I also get to help other Oregon groups, too,” she said. “Some of the things I now do include: adding/removing admins to groups, getting new groups mapped out and started, helping any Local Admins who may have questions, and helping orphaned groups that may have lost their Local Admin for some reason. In fact, that’s why I’m helping out with the Buy Nothing Corvallis group right now. I’m trying to keep the group going while searching for some local volunteers to help out.”
When asked about what can be gifted, Baker quickly shut down any hopes of pot brownies or bazookas. “Everything offered or asked for must be legal at the federal level. There can be no restricted items like firearms or prescription drugs,” said Baker.