Tag Archives: Buy Nothing Westport

[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.

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!