Buy Nothing: The Sequel

In May, “06880” posted a story on “Buy Nothing.” That’s a world-wide Facebook group, with a simple premise: You can offer anything to your neighbors — and ask for anything. The sky — and your imagination — is the limit.

The Westport page was hopping.

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.

The “asks” went beyond simple requests. A post by a first time grandmother requesting a crib received a number of congratulations.

Want bikinis? They were on the Buy Nothing site. (The giver says they were worn.)

A true community developed. Friendships formed; gratitude flowed. One person thanked a group member for the gift of a shower cap. It reminds her of Paris, where she fell in love with a similar one.

Another thanked a local couple for offering their home and washing machine during a power outage.

It sounded too good to last.

It was.

In June, the international organization behind the “Buy Nothing” movement decided that the all-Westport Facebook group had gotten too big for its hyper-local britches.

Plans were announced to break Westport into 3 sections. Members were allowed access only to the neighborhood in which they live.

People responded — well, not with gratitude.

After seeing the negative reactions, most of the admin team — all local residents — vowed to find a way to keep the community united, and take back the townwide group.

They researched other Facebook gift economies, and incorporated the best aspects of the prior group.

Last week they launched the result: Westport Gift Economy—Neighbors Sharing with Neighbors.

“Our goal is to facilitate a united Westport group to give and share free of monetary exchange, so we can reestablish the townwide love, gratitude and generosity we helped foster in our last group,” says Vanessa Weinbach, an original — and new — group founder.

By the end of the first day, there were over 600 members. Just a week later, members have given and received items like a hot tub, moving boxes and personalized flower arrangements.

They also take care of their own. The daughter of a former group administrator was recently in a bad car accident. A “wish” went out for adaptive equipment to help with rehab. Members quickly found an array of medical devices.

If you live in Westport, or within half a mile of its borders, and are at least 18, you can join Westport Gift Economy — Neighbors Sharing with Neighbors (click here!).

You might find something organic blossoming dill. You might ask if someone is making an Ikea run, and can pick an item up for you.

The caring and sharing has begun — again.

Want organic dill? You can find it on the Westport Gift Economy page.

3 responses to “Buy Nothing: The Sequel

  1. Mark Mathias

    Or try Freecycle.org’s Westport group that has been in existence for more than 10 years and has more than 4,300 members. You can see it at: https://groups.freecycle.org/group/Westport_CT/posts/all.

  2. Thank you. I was a member of the larger group until it got downsized.

  3. Danielle Alexander

    The Buy Nothing Project very much continues to be an integral part of the fabric of Westport. We didn’t downsize, we sprouted!

    The goal is to keep the group hyperlocal, intimate even, so that you know the person who is showing up at your doorstep and feel comfortable wishing for a quick jumpstart of your car or a pair of black shoes *stat* because the concert is starting in 10 minutes and Johnny outgrew his. With the smaller groups, you might even actually receive an item you express interest in! Rather than being one out of seventy people expressing interest in something, in these smaller groups, you might see two or three neighbors chatting about an item. The mission of the group is to develop connections, relationships even, between *real life* neighbors.

    When we sprouted, we retained over 75% of our amazing members in three, separate, hyperlocal groups. The volunteers that “admin” these groups are actual neighbors in the community. This map shows the designated areas:

    https://www.google.com/maps/d/viewer?mid=1lcginojtS54WWUTliSnPsqAV-XzIl3Pi&ll=41.12330019712924%2C-73.33397793115233&z=12

    Team Green: https://www.facebook.com/groups/226900584589480/

    Team Purple: https://www.facebook.com/groups/1410006292417924/

    Team Orange: https://www.facebook.com/groups/201902797128608/

    Please remember to answer the questions so that we can confirm that you are in the correct group.