Cool New Way to Get (and Give Away) Free Stuff: The Buy Nothing Project


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If one of your New Year’s goals is to finally get rid of all that clutter in your basement, don’t start posting ads on Craigslist just yet. Consider a new option: the Buy Nothing Project, a new Facebook group that just cropped up with the aim of connecting neighbors who have freebies just waiting for a new home.

The international Buy Nothing Project, headquartered in Bainbridge Island, Washington, has been around for about a year and a half. But it wasn’t until last month that local PR gal Paige Wolf got a whiff of the idea and, looking to connect with a local Philly chapter, found that, well, there weren’t any to join—yet.

So she launched Philly’s first Buy Nothing Project Facebook group, which invites members to post listings about free stuff they want to get rid of or things they’re in need of. “It’s like going back to our roots of borrowing a cup of sugar from your neighbor,” says Wolf.

The emphasis here is on the word neighbor, because the guidelines set by Buy Nothing’s international group insist that local groups be extremely hyperlocal. So Wolf’s group, which as of now is the only in Philly, is available exclusively to those who live in the 19147 zip code. Well, “roughly 19147,” Wolf clarifies, as the main emphasis is on the Bella Vista, Washington Square West and Queen Village neighborhoods, but Wolf defines the boundaries a bit wider than just the singular zip code: Delaware River to the East, Schuylkill River to the West, Walnut Street to the North and Tasker to the South.

Before you Fishtown and Fairmount residents get huffy, know that the group is meant to be somewhat exclusive and narrow. “This is all about getting to know your neighbors,” Wolf explains. And, besides, “it might not be worth it to get some of this stuff if you have to go schlep somewhere further away to do it.”

She’s right in some cases—i.e. when someone posted about a bunch of free plastic hangers up for grabs, or when another offered up some old cans of paint—but from what I can tell, lots of the stuff posted so far seemed well worth the pick-up effort, like free baby strollers, kids’ clothes and shoes, leather boots and more. Members also post requests for borrowing items—like, in one case, an umbrella stroller for an upcoming family vacation—or seeking free goods, like lamps and plants.

If you live out of range of the 19147 group, Wolf suggests contacting the Buy Nothing Project to start your own in your ‘hood; instructions to do so are here. However, if you do qualify for Wolf’s group, you can send a request to join here.

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