My Local “Buy Nothing” Group Made Spring Cleaning Fun & Rewarding

Just a few months ago, I stumbled on a local “Buy Nothing” group on Facebook. I was intrigued, so I joined—and was immediately hooked!

If you’ve never heard of the Buy Nothing Project, here’s the scoop: The organization uses Facebook as a platform to connect neighborhoods and cities. The whole premise of the group is based on neighborly connection and the idea of “reduce, reuse, recycle.” Neighbors can give things away to one another, or ask their neighbors for things that they would have otherwise purchased.

There are multiple groups for many cities and neighborhoods in the metro area. For example, in Overland Park, there is Buy Nothing Overland Park (Central), KS, Buy Nothing Overland Park (South), Ks, and more. The Buy Nothing Project website even has a tool that can help you locate the group nearest you.

The rules of these groups are simple: Post anything you’d like to give away, lend, or share amongst neighbors. Ask for anything you’d like to receive for free, or even borrow. No buying or selling and no trading or bartering. It’s strictly a gift economy!

A New Way to Declutter

Since joining my local group, I’ve found a lot of joy in both giving things away and asking for things. I think my favorite “give” since joining was a vintage decorative Union Station key from 1925 that had been collecting dust in my cabinet for years. The recipient I chose was a woman named Becky who wanted to surprise her history-loving husband. He was thrilled with the gift, and afterwards, she sent me a picture of him proudly holding the key.

Giving things away to people who are excited to receive them is such a rewarding and fun way to connect with neighbors; pretty soon, I was actively looking around my home for things I didn’t need.

I’ve been on the receiving end of quite a few generous gifts as well. I’ve received baby pajamas, clothing, a lap desk, a toddler bed for my little girl, and many other things that I would have otherwise had to go out and purchase. I love the idea of purging items that I no longer need, and in return gaining not only items I wanted anyway, but also new connections with people in my community.

Convenience is Everything for Busy Parents

It may seem trivial, but it’s so convenient that I don’t need to leave my home to give something away, or spend time haggling over price like I would if I posted something for sale on Craigslist or Facebook Marketplace; I simply post the item(s), choose a recipient, then leave the gift on my porch, and the recipient comes and picks it up. For a busy mom with two toddlers, this system is a game changer and allows me to purge items that I may have never gotten around to driving to a donation center or selling online.

Now my husband and I are in the process of spring cleaning, and the Buy Nothing group is going to be our main donation outlet. We’ve been hanging on to too many kitchen gadgets, bathroom fixtures, clothing, and other items that are just sitting in storage collecting dust. Anything can be donated; you might be surprised at the way your neighbors can repurpose things you might have otherwise thrown away!

As I’ve given and received, I’ve gathered a few helpful tips when it comes to making the most of your “Buy Nothing” experience.

Tips for Making the Most of Your “Buy Nothing” Group:

  • When posting a gift, include a timeframe by which you need the item picked up. This ensures that there are no timing miscommunications and the process of donating doesn’t get dragged on for too long.
  • If you have multiple items to give, consider making one post with multiple items as opposed to posting items separately. This will make it easier for you to keep track of interest and which recipients you chose for which items.
  • Consider keeping a bin on your porch for giveaway items. You can label each item in the bin with the recipient’s name. This makes for contactless transfer of items and also ensures that you don’t have to spend time coordinating specific pickup times. Jessica Piscia, an active member of the group, even created a special label for her bin so that gift recipients could easily identify it when picking up their items.
Locker ugh
Inside locker
  • When you post an item to give, specify if it’s from a smoke-free, pet friendly home, etc.
  • Once you give an item, be sure to update the post to indicate the item has been given.
  • Most “Buy Nothing” groups have a zone map; although most everyone in a single “Buy Nothing” group is going to be somewhat close to one another, it’s helpful to include the “zone” in which you live so people can judge exactly how far away you are from them.
  • The Buy Nothing Project is not a “first come, first serve” model—so keep in mind that you can choose any recipient for any reason that strikes your fancy!

To find the “Buy Nothing” group nearest you, try searching Facebook with the words “Buy Nothing” and local options should pop up. If that doesn’t work, don’t forget that you can use the Buy Nothing Project website search tool to help locate your nearest group.

Happy giving and receiving!

A Michigan native, Lauren has lived in the Kansas City area since 2014. She is now settled in Overland Park with her husband Taylor, 3-year-old son Silas, 1-year-old daughter Rosalie, and their three fur babies. Lauren spends most of her time taking care of her two littles, while also juggling some part-time work as a freelance communications professional. Lauren’s survival strategy is to look for humor and joy amidst the chaos. Her best advice for relieving stress is to bake a batch of cookies (works every time).