[OPINION] Advice For The Holidays: Buy Nothing

Alert — and astute — “06880” reader Paul Rossi writes:

Reading a recent article in the Wall Street Journal titled An Antidote to Inflation? ‘Buy Nothing’ Groups Gain Popularity” reminded me why this works so well in Westport — and why I offered to help administer our local Buy Nothing Project group years ago, with co-admins Meg Lepsisto and Danielle Alexander.

As we enter this season of giving, I want to share a resource that may not be well known.

As many can relate, our family of 5 had amassed a great deal of “stuff” since moving here to Westport in 1996. Most is no longer needed or wanted. Kids grow up, trends come and go, new products offer preferred conveniences, the nest begins to empty … you know.

Paul Rossi (far left) and his family at this year’s Memorial Day ceremony. Paul’s father Nick was the grand marshal. (Photo/Dan Woog)

Like most Westporters, we are genuinely concerned with protecting the environment and not dumping on our future generations. If you have ever been to our transfer station, you have seen the shocking amount of perfectly usable items deposited there that will end up in a landfill or incinerator.

On the other side, what really hooked me on Buy Nothing Westport was an experience a few years ago. I needed an extra propane tank for a BBQ grill. I posted a “wish” on the Buy Nothing Facebook Group Page.

Sure enough, 3 people offered to give me one. I considered how it might look asking for a freebie, but I swallowed my pride and proceeded.

I picked up the tank and had a lovely encounter with the giver, who was happy to pass along a perfectly good item she no longer needed.

That’s the reason why, since its founding in 2013, the Buy Nothing Project is expected to grow to over 5 million members worldwide next year.

You can give on the Buy Nothing Facebook page …

The formula works: A hyperlocal Facebook group (you must legitimately live in Westport) fueled by people’s desire to reduce waste and connect with neighbors.

As COVID hit, we saw a spike in membership. Being cooped up made us all more aware of how much “stuff “we no longer needed. The urge to purge kicked in.

Over the last few weeks, I was curious about another surge in Westporters wanting to join our Buy Nothing group. Reading the WSJ article suggests that “with inflation hitting a 31-year high and supply-chain issues making it difficult for people to get the goods they want on time, some have found an answer in online groups where members give things away free.”

… or get. People are encouraged to do both.

Re-enter the Buy Nothing Project. It is not a trash-to-treasure online thrift store.  Most of the “gives” offer new or gently used items, surpluses, vintage finds, etc.  The “wishes” run the gamut from lamps for college dorms, children’s books, tools needed tomorrow for one-time use, wheelchairs and supplies for elderly homecare, to surplus herbs and veggies for cooking and the like.

Our family loves meeting the people we give to and receive from. The community-building aspect differentiates this movement from others. It is very much a “feel good” experience all around. And in the process, we do our part to remain good stewards of the planet.

Click here to learn more about the Buy Nothing Project. Click here to join the Westport Facebook Group. You can also download the BuyNothing app.

2 responses to “[OPINION] Advice For The Holidays: Buy Nothing

  1. An alternative option to recycle and exchange things is Freecycle.com – an online platform that allows you to post offers of unwanted items or “needed” requests to exchange with others in your area. It’s useful if you prefer not to use Facebook.

  2. Thanks, Lisa, for your note about the the non-Facebook option.

    However, it is at https://www.freecycle.org (i.e., “.org”, not “.com”).

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