Buy nothing: the new way to give and recycle

By Page H. Gifford

Nowadays, communities are finding various ways to connect and bring people together. The “buy nothing” movement has been bringing friends and neighbors together since 2013. Not only have people saved money but they recycle by giving things away for free. Helping others in the community by offering services for free is another option of the Buy Nothing movement. It is an international project with more than 4 million people making up 6,800 Buy Nothing communities in 44 countries across the globe.

The idea behind it was the brainchild of friends Rebecca Rockefeller and Liesl Clark, from Bainbridge Island, Wash.  Their book, “The Buy Nothing, Get Everything Plan: Discover the Joy of Spending Less, Sharing More, and Living Generously,” explains the Buy Nothing philosophy as wanting a “healthy planet and pursuing every possible alternative before buying anything someone wants or needs.”

Buy Nothing Lake Monticello (BNLM) was started by moderators of other Charlottesville groups and local moderator Melissa Larrick.  Morgan Caruso and Jackie Geer work as moderators and complement each other in age.

“The main goal of the Buy Nothing Project is to build community where you live. Morgan and I see that happening in our local group. I look at the Buy Nothing Project as a great service to multi-generations. Older generations, which I am a part of, are cleaning out decades of treasures and younger generations, which Morgan is a part of, are just starting out and gathering items to fill in needed gaps in their households.” Geer added that she, like others, have received gifts that become special feature in their homes.

“We currently have 1,393 members.  In the past month 1,054  of those members have been active on our site. That is 76 percent of our members were actively gifting, receiving gifts, or offering support in some way to neighbors. That is pretty impressive,” said Geer. She added that in the future they will most likely be splitting into two groups,  hoping to extend their second group over to Rt. 15. There are a few Buy Nothing groups that cover Fluvanna, but they see a need to expand.

The main challenge for getting the movement off the ground was vetting those who were applying to become members, making sure they are within their boundaries.

“We check the master map and if they live within the boundaries of other groups, we refer them to the Troy, Buckingham, Louisa, Gordonsville, Orange, Crozet, Staunton, or many of the Charlottesville groups, Geer said. “The other challenge for new members was understanding there are no referrals to businesses or outside organizations. There is no bartering. The gifts given should have no strings attached.”

Anyone can be a member and there is no limit to the items given.

“Younger generations today are facing higher housing prices and sometimes do not have the income to buy needed household items. Most of us faced this dilemma when we were first starting out,” said Geer.  

There is no end to items people have given – from furniture and clothing, baby items including diapers and food to kitchen appliances, gardening equipment, TVs, computers, mulch and firewood, to even a kitchen sink. “I have seen families in need, due to many different circumstances. House fires, family illnesses, loss of job, a sick child, reduced hours because of COVID, and I continually see the BNLM community stepping up to help those families by offering household items, food, meals, toys, and clothing. Because we believe that BNLM helps build community. We watch as our community offers love and support.”  

During the last power outage, some were without power for five days.  BNLM members offered showers, meals, coffee a few hours to warm up in a house, and rides to work. Geer said seeing over 1,400 members caring for their neighbors was amazing.

“I have gotten rid of a lot of stuff and made a lot of friends. During the pandemic before the vaccine, many of us would have felt more isolated if it was not for the caring gestures of the BNLM members.”  At every moment BNLM members have served each other in kind and unexpected ways, renewing the meaning of community.

Members can also request a certain gift, usually on the Group Wish Wednesday Post, and that is when Geer “sees the magic begin.”

“Perhaps grandparents are expecting grandchildren to visit, and they ask for a car seat, pack and play or high chair to keep or borrow. Within hours their request is filled,” she said. “Whatever the request, I see the BNLM members searching their households and coming up with items to help out their neighbors who they may have never met.”

Another problem arises when an item is posted  and up to 30 people post responses. Who gets the item?

“The Buy Nothing Project has a motto, “It is not about the stuff. It is about the story.” We ask members to explain why they would like to be gifted an item, not just ask for it. Giving up a book or game that was a favorite of my grown son’s is so much easier if I know it is going to a child that will experience joy from the gift,” she said. “Giving up a desk or table that still has many years of life in it is so much easier if I know a neighbor can use it in their home and this giving and receiving is creating bonds with our neighbors. Those ties bind us together in a time when social media is dividing communities; we see the Buy Nothing Project building stronger communities.”

One of the main features of the Buy Nothing project is recycling. A retired Environmental Science teacher, Geer understands the benefits of reducing, reusing, and recycling.

“We are a throw-away society, but the Buy Nothing project keeps items out of the landfill. We reduce buying products if we can get them as a gift from a neighbor.” Being very creative, Geer is always looking for furniture and other items that not only can be recycled but can be turned into something special, Recently, Geer took a plain wooden  table with drop leaves and restyled it into a trendy display piece. “We encourage gratitude posts and many of these posts showcase items that have been upcycled or given places of honor in their new homes.” She adds that people cleaning their pantries will gift food. Sometimes it is a half of a cake, or cookies, or a fresh-baked loaf of bread being offered.

The BNLM group is what Geer calls a “No Drama” group. Kindness is in abundance, and members can feel safe to give a gift and ask for a gift.

“As my husband and I drive through the community, I recognize people’s homes that we have received gifts from or that we have delivered gifts to, and I feel more a part of a caring community where neighbors help neighbors every day of the year. I have friends that have written to me after moving out of the BNLM area and say their new Buy Nothing group can’t hold a candle to the BNLM group.”

For more information about the rules visit

Related Posts

dewi88 cuanslot dragon77 cuan138 enterslots rajacuan megahoki88 ajaib88 warung168 fit188 pusatwin pusatwin slot tambang88 mahkota88 slot99 emas138