Buy Nothing. Get A Community In Return.

Alert — and gratified — “06880” reader Mary Luvera writes:

I don’t remember when I joined the Buy Nothing Westport group, or how I heard about it.

However, Facebook tells me I first posted to the group on September 20, 2017.  It was a “wish” post, asking to borrow a helium balloon holder that I needed for a party.

Another member of the group granted my wish later that day.

On Easter Sunday, a :Buy Nothing” group member offered this.

While I soon became conversant in the language of the Buy Nothing group (“Wish,” “Wish Granted,” “Interested,” “Give,” “Gifted,” etc.), I was a bit of a reluctant group member. I felt guilty accepting gifts from others, or offering gifts that might better serve someone in a less affluent community.

That was before I understood what was actually happening on the Buy Nothing group.  While many of the “gives” and “wishes” were for material items, some were humbling.

One group member gifted key lime pies. Another gifted a pizza making lesson. A third wished for hand-written get well cards to deliver to a local resident injured in a recent storm.

Beyond that, I noticed the support that group members and admins offered each other in the posts.

For example, a post by a first time grandmother asking for a crib received a number of congratulations.

One of my own stranger “gives” was offering soy pulp left over from making tofu. I added “Is this too weird?” to the post.

The admin quickly liked my post and replied, “Not too weird at all!” It was a weird offer, but I appreciated the no judgment attitude.

No one wanted the soy pulp, but I did have a nice exchange with another group member interested in my recipe for tofu.

Want bikinis? The giver says they were worn “maybe once each.”

Then I started seeing “gratitude” posts. One thanked a group member for the gift of a shower cap. It reminds her of Paris where she had fallen in love with a similar one.

Another thanked a local couple for offering their home and washing machine during a power outage. One more thanked a group member for dropping off cookies when picking up a gifted item.

Countless group members have also expressed gratitude to the admins for the friendships and connections the group has given them.

Clearly, a community was developing. Although I’ve gifted and received a number of material items, and like others have expressed gratitude to the admins, the best outcome for me has been the local connections.

A request on “Buy Nothing.” Several members quickly responded.

Earlier this year Parul Kamboj, a Buy Nothing member, offered Indian cooking lessons at her home. A lover of all food, and especially new cultural experiences, I quickly added my name to the more than 40 other replies.

Luckily, I was selected to join one of her classes. On a cold winter day, Parul generously opened her home to 4 members of the Buy Nothing community. She taught us how to make sabudana khichdi, a vegetarian dish with tapioca balls, carrots, peanuts and spices.

A few weeks after our lesson I met Parul again. I couldn’t get her passion for her culture and cuisine out of my mind. I had to write a piece about her for my blog, where I explore culture through food stories.

Mary Luvera

I spent over an hour at her home, chatting and sipping ginger tea. I really got to know Parul that day. I felt very fortunate to have had this view into her life, culture and food. It was all thanks to the Buy Nothing Westport group.

It’s true that members of the Buy Nothing Westport group exchange material items, which could possibly better serve someone somewhere else.

Scratch below the surface though, and you’ll find that real connections are happening behind many of these exchanges. People are meeting, learning about each other, becoming friends, and supporting one another.

Of course if you’re looking for a trampoline, shoes, soccer cleats, softball pants, an American Girl doll, a storage bench, a bookcase or blender, you can find those through the group too!

8 responses to “Buy Nothing. Get A Community In Return.

  1. Janette Kinnally

    I absolutely love this group. And have met and become quite friendly with several of them on this site. It has been amazing how this has group Hans grown and supported each other. Today is Mother’s Day, and being a mother to two boys, I am grateful to have met a community of others that know what we go through as mothers. The other day, I asked for a baseball mitt, and within an hour, someone in the group said they had one. Another person is a teacher at the Westport school district and we started talking when she was picking up an item and I asked her if she did tutoring and she does, I told her I would like to hire her for tutoring my son over the summer. That would not have happened if we had not connected through this site. I am very grateful.

  2. Mark Yurkiw

    I don’t remember how I was introduced to “Buy Nothing” but the idea resonated with me instantly. Living In a community like Westport where there is so much excess I would be amazed each time I needed to visit the Transfer Station (the Dump) to see what people were throwing out. I was curious but skeptical how it worked but I was amazed at what I saw happen. It created an instant community of people who were thoughtful, kind, grateful and appreciated …..each other! I saw WISH posts and GIVE posts, for everything you could imagine, but most importantly I saw GRATITUDE posts along with stories of how you met neighbors you were not likely to get to know any other way. One day there was a post to GIVE a woodworkers dust collector so I decided to test the waters and say i’m INTERESTED and immediately was embarrassed because there were a few people who wanted it. The problem was solved by playing a game to answer a question related to woodworking…the best answer won. It was FUN. Then I saw a WISH post for a kyack from someone who had moved here recently. I had two I wasn’t using and offered it up out of my gratitude for getting a dust collector for my woodworking. Then an amazing thing happened. When the woman picked up the kyack we had a friendly chit-chat to break the awkwardness when meeting a perfect stranger. I mentioned that I enjoy Indian cuisine when she mentioned she was originally from Delhi. A week later I received an instant message asking if she could bring over some homemade Indian treats for me and my wife to enjoy. I was delighted both in the sincerity and thoughtfulness. We need this kind of community to blossom not for what we can gain from it materially but in the sense of community. This is the best of what our digital world can accomplish for humanity, connecting us to one another while providing what we need and showing gratitude and appreciation. Isn’t it amazing? BUY NOTHING because it makes the world a better place.

  3. Tracy Yost

    Nothing has made me feel as part of this community as this group. I grew up on base…and this was how it was done…everyone helping out everyone!

  4. John Karrel

    Hats off to the comments above, but this Luddite enjoys nothing more than ignoring his screen (AND Mr Zuckerberg), heading out for a walk, & speaking with a neighbor —a face-to-face conversation — I’ve never met before. (Happy Mothers’ Day!)

  5. Mark Mathias

    Also try the Westport Freecycle group that has more than 4,000 members. You can see it at: https://groups.freecycle.org/group/Westport_CT/posts/all.

  6. Vanessa Weinbach

    Thank you so much for this piece about wonderful group!

  7. Charlene Zeiberg

    Love this group…it is truly better to give than receive…I am glad the things I no longer need or can use found great homes and I have definitely received some great things as well!

  8. Bonnie Dubson

    Well said! Buy Nothing is a wonderful group — and Mary and other “Buy Nothing” members really do make it into a community.