The recent growth of gift economies such as the hyper-local “Buy Nothing” Facebook groups & Freecycle seem to be the perfect answer for living a less materialistic life while growing your community. With most families trying to get by on less (or buy less) sharing bounty amongst communities is an elegant solution.
The etiquette in these groups is fairly basic. No soliciting, no bartering, giver gets to decide who the recipient is. Explaining why you want something is helpful when attempting to claim a posted item as well as when asking for something specific. A post may clearly state “First responder takes it” or “Get it off my porch by tomorrow & it’s yours”. Others use a random number generator, saving them from having to select a recipient. Two certificates for a free haircut at a fancy salon received huge responses. Random number generator picked the 7th & 13th responders.
The SE Seattle Buy Nothing group, with a little over 600 members, is a hopping place. With everything from trees to t-shirts on offer there’s bound to be something you can use. The biggest beneficiaries are clearly parents, attempting to keep pace with the near daily changes their children go through. Bottle sterilizers, breast feeding aids (and advice), training potties, wheeled vehicles, play houses and, of course, clothes. With the rapid turn over rate any barely used kid’s item could easily be recycled 6 times, at least, before wearing out. Gardening is a hot topic right now along with chicken coop building materials, giving your neighbor’s old doors or cabinets a second life.
Other requests are also for a short-term use, such as needing a red dress for an event but not wanting to buy one to use just once. Need crutches? Ask. Have fertile gardening ground but aren’t able to garden anymore? Offer.
When trying to ‘claim’ an item you may find yourself on a bit of a treasure hunt, navigating back streets of your neighborhood that you’ve never been down before. Helpful group members may offer their truck to transport large items simply out of generosity and that’s really the flavor of the whole endeavor, generosity & community. Everyday your neighbors are freely giving and receiving and it makes so much sense. Got too much stuff? Give some away. Maybe someone can use it.
Robin Boland is a contributing columnist, South Seattle Enthusiast, and is often referred to as “little bird” by friends of hers with heights over 5 ft 7