Monday, February 17, 2020

Buy Nothing Project by MCR Tara P.

As an MCR, I am always interested in ways to reduce my footprint. This meant frequenting second hand shops, browsing and posting on buy/sell/swap sites, and often reluctantly venturing to Kijiji. While I felt good about not adding to the landfill, it often felt impersonal. When I donated an item to a second hand store, I didn’t know if someone would end up needing it. When I looked to Kijiji, the item was sometimes across the city and I never knew if the deal would fall through by the time I got there. There had to be a better way...

Then by happy accident, I discovered the Buy Nothing Project. Someone in a Facebook group was starting a Buy Nothing group for our area, and was looking for someone to help with administrating the group. I looked it up, and was excited to see that the Buy Nothing Project was exactly the forum I had in mind. It was something that would help people in our neighborhood not only share items and skills, but also help forge personal connections and friendships.

The Buy Nothing Project is an international organization focused on creating a “hyperlocal gift economy.” It provides resources and tools for local volunteers to start up their own Buy Nothing groups on Facebook. Here are the basics: 
  • Membership is limited to those who live within the defined boundaries. This means that all members are your neighbours, not some random Internet strangers.
  • Only posts with gifts, asks, or gratitude are allowed. The group is a positive space for sharing items and friendship, not a place for promoting a business or ranting.
  •  Everything is given or received freely. No trading or selling.
  • You can give your gifts to whomever you choose, for whatever reason. You might pick the person who you feel will get the most use out of it, or the person who posted the cutest pet photo, or the fourth person who requested it. You could pick a person who has given you something in the past, or a stranger so you can make a new connection.
  • Community members' needs are met from within the community. There is no need to refer people to businesses or resources outside the community.
Our group is located in the Aspen Gardens, Greenfield and Duggan area. In one month we have accepted over 120 members! The group is active and growing, and we have already had some blossoming new friendships come out of shared items and experiences.
There are only six Buy Nothing groups in Edmonton. I think we need more, and MCRs are some of the best people to start them. 

What about it, fellow MCRs? Can we have a Buy Nothing Group in every Edmonton neighbourhood?

Check out for more information. This site has all the information you need about the organization, how to find a group, or how to start one for your own community.

Tara P. is an environmental microbiologist and a gardener, and am currently looking for ways to give back to my community. I like both learning and sharing my knowledge with others. Tara became an MCR in 2018. 

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