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Social media for good: The generosity of Buy Nothing groups

Buy Nothing exchange

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Theresa Civantos Barber - published on 09/14/23

When you’re feeling disheartened, the generosity of people in Buy Nothing groups might be the spark of encouragement you need.

We all know social media can be a force for negativity and even for evil, so it’s a nice change of pace to hear about those times when it’s a force for good instead. 

When you’re feeling disheartened, the generosity of people in Buy Nothing groups might be the spark of encouragement you need.

What is a Buy Nothing group? 

It’s a group on social media (usually Facebook) specific to an area or neighborhood in which people will post items they don’t need any more but don’t want to sell. 

Giving away an item on a Buy Nothing group essentially is making a donation that goes directly to the person who wants it. Group members also can post asking if anyone has a specific item they need. 

What is so incredible about these groups is the open-handed kindness of the members, inspiring in many places a real camaraderie and sense of community.

I’m in a local Buy Nothing group but haven’t participated in it much yet. To learn more about them, I reached out to Caroline, who is active in her local Buy Nothing group. 

Caroline’s story

“I joined it after moving into a new house, in a new city, and having a baby a few weeks later,” she said. “We had so many things we needed, but our expenses were already through the roof!”

She received all kinds of gems from group members, including picture frames, baby toys, and kitchen items. “My favorite by far was a brand new breast pump that usually retails for $300,” she said.

At this point, she has not built friendships in the group, but knows others who have. “I have heard of some moms becoming friends and making playdates from people they’ve met through it.”

She “absolutely” recommends joining, even if you don’t need anything at the moment. The group is just as valuable for those giving as for those receiving. 

“It also is helpful to maintain simplicity in your own life,” she pointed out. “We’re called to not be attached to worldly goods. What better way to detach from things we don’t use anymore than by giving them away for free?”

Buy Nothing etiquette

She shared a few tips for joining and using a Buy Nothing group if you’re new to it, including the following:

  • No buying, selling, or bartering: Everything must be given freely. 
  • Promptness is highly valued: “If you claim something, you need to follow up with the poster quickly about how you will collect the item.”

Ultimately, taking part in her local group is a wonderfully positive experience for Caroline, and a reminder of people’s kindness. 

“Social media comes with some headaches and drama,” she said, “but Buy Nothing groups show the goodness and generosity sewn into the human heart.”

Acts of KindnessEconomySocial Media
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