Okay, okay. I know I’m late to the party. Many people have been in Buy Nothing groups for years. But I have an excuse!
We live in a really weird slice of our town that basically hovers right outside the boundaries of two different Buy Nothing groups. As a result, I’d long given up on ever joining one. Much to my delight and surprise, at the end of November, I got a notification that I was accepted.
And as someone who has dabbled (struggled?) with minimalism quite a bit in the past, I was really excited for what this might mean: a renewed chance to declutter and help my community, too! Now that I’ve spent almost three months in the group, I feel like I’m really starting to know the ropes.
Here’s a list of my initial takeaways, plus everything I’ve given…and taken. Because when I say I struggle with minimalism, I mean it!
Initial Takeaways from My Buy Nothing Group
I am positive that when it comes to Buy Nothing groups, YMMV. What you get probably depends heavily on where you live, how active your group is, and so on. While I can’t promise that my experience would be duplicated elsewhere, I figure it couldn’t hurt to share some of the things I’m thinking about after this initial introduction.
Participating Requires Patience
As with resale items, not everything you list is going to be met with the same gusto that you had when you scooped it up initially. Or maybe you weren’t that excited about it to begin with either. Even after someone commits to picking up an item, though, it doesn’t mean it’s gone quite yet.
While I will say that people in Buy Nothing groups seem to commit much more firmly than when I offer things for free on OfferUp or Facebook Marketplace, people do flake out. Or get busy. Or forget.
So participating in a Buy Nothing group definitely doesn’t afford you the same speed that decluttering and doing a Goodwill drop off does. But the trade off is knowing that your things are a lot less likely to get thrown out. And you don’t have to wonder if workers will be paid a living wage or not.
And a Heaping of Will Power
As with most things on this blog, this is written by me, for me. I wanted to join a Buy Nothing group for two main reasons: to continue rehoming things we don’t need and to minimize waste. Of course, I also realized that I may be able to request things from time to time or find things we need.
What I did not join for was to add more clutter to my home. And yet, it’s so tempting to say yes to anything cute or fun, regardless of need or practically. But I keep reminding myself that there is a cost to free.
RELATED POST: The High Price of Free
Not only does it still require a bit of time and effort to pick up items, but I have to find a place to put them. And if my ultimate goal is to have less–not more–it’s in my best interest to post items and then click away.
It’s a Great Way to Connect
The two administrators who run our Buy Nothing group are always talking about how hyperlocal groups can foster community. I have to admit that I needed to see it to truly understand it.
In the few short months that I’ve been part of the group, I’ve already connected with a few of the same people regarding items I’m giving away. You get a sense of who has kiddos that are just ahead of you and who has kiddos coming up behind you. I’m sure there are other connections people forge, too!
Plus, I’ve noticed that our group also spotlights different community fundraisers and virtual meetups. While my plate is currently overflowing, it seems like a lovely way to connect with more people in my neighborhood, especially once COVID ends.
What I’ve Given
With what a whirlwind of a school year this has been, I haven’t been able to truly devote the amount of time I’d like to decluttering. We’ve definitely decluttered all the low-hanging fruit, so at this stage in the game, I need to carve out bigger chunks of time to have real come-to-Marie-Kondo moments with our stuff. While that largely hasn’t happened, I have managed to declutter several rounds of items!
After a good spray down with some disinfectant, I actually felt fine about passing these along. I mean, they basically only get played with in soapy water, right? Out of everything I’ve posted, these were scooped up the fastest. Minutes after I clicked “post”, I had a request!
Normally, I weed out my classroom library on an ongoing basis, and I let my students (or any student in the school!) take whatever books they want. Our classroom libraries aren’t allowed to be in circulation this year, though, so I figured I’d try posting them.
I gave away a few dozen books from all different genres. I even parted with eight books in the Diary of a Wimpy Kid series. (My students would be seriously mad to know I did that…but they’re too easy for them. And I guess they won’t know anyway!)
In addition to sharing books from my classroom, I’ve also donated books that belonged to me and to HP. It’s pretty easy to find cheap and free books, so I don’t really hesitate to pay it forward.
We ended up with a box of stuff that we didn’t need from a big project that we did a while back (and I do mean A WHILE). I posted it, and everything was snatched up. A few different people wanted different things, and that’s fine by me. Better to go to places where it will be used rather than sitting under our basement stairs.
We received some hand-me-downs and new clothes, and HP is growing like a weed. I was more than happy to pass along some of the things we no longer needed!
What I’ve Received
While it was somewhat tempting to gloss over this part, it’s worth noting that we haven’t just given things away in our Buy Nothing group. We’ve also picked up three different postings from our community. We plan to enjoy them thoroughly now, and pass them along in the future.
Surprisingly, these sat and sat in our group. After a few days, I asked if they were available and the gifter was thrilled. We scooped them up, and they are the perfect addition to HP’s play space. His beloved children’s museum had a whole wooden block area, and it’s been a year since we’ve been able to attend. So this was a really nice treat.
We inherited some wooden train tracks and a few trains when HP was born. This Christmas, my mom and dad bought him a train depot. And I thought that was that. Until I saw this train table come up in our group. It’s not even a 3×3 square, so it fit really nicely in our basement. It holds all of his current train paraphernalia. And the best part is that there isn’t room for anything more! So no temptation for me to buy anything else.
And I’m loving that when I play with him, I don’t have to stoop to the ground anymore. (Is this middle age? This feels like middle age.)
We recently grabbed a bag of a dozen or so items. They were supposed to be the next size up, but it ended up being a really mixed lot. Rather than hang onto the items that are much bigger than what we need, I’m going to pass them along after I wash them!
Final Thoughts on Joining a Buy Nothing Group
The short version is that I’m thrilled to be part of this Buy Nothing group.
I feel really motivated to continue decluttering, especially since one of my biggest hesitations lately has been how much of what gets donated goes to waste. The feeling of being able to help out my community, especially when people post requests and I can help meet them, is awesome, too.
Plus, a little lesson in will power never hurts, right?
So Tell Me…Do you participate in your Buy Nothing group? Are you working on decluttering?