After a good, long, rewarding life, your curling iron finally gives up the ghost and goes to that big vanity in the sky. What do you do? Make a trip to Target? Hop on Amazon Prime?
If your neighborhood has a Buy Nothing group, maybe not. In that case, all you would have to do is post your request on the local Facebook page and wait to see what turned up. Last week, in the Bella Vista neighborhood of Philadelphia, plenty of members had a curling iron — or three —to spare, from barely used high-end models to trusty drug-store back-ups.
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“It’s just so rewarding to see how much we’ve been able to save as far as waste,” says Paige Wolf, a local author, business owner and mother who started the Bella Vista chapter. “I feel like our culture is reaching that tipping point of consumerism. People are into living frugally, sharing with their neighbors and getting back to their roots.”
Founded in Washington state and now boasting hyper-local chapters worldwide, the premise of the Buy Nothing Project is simple: Give what you can, take what you need, and be neighborly in the process. Offerings range from the very small — a bundle of basil from an overzealous plant, ice cube trays, coupons — to designer shoes, good-as-new couches and antique armoires that (surprise!) don’t fit up the stairs on moving day. Requests, whether for a potato masher or an emergency crib for a foster child, are frequently met by people who were strangers the day before.
Families with young children find Buy Nothing groups especially helpful, both for sourcing last-minute snow boots and for cleaning out the overflowing toy chest. “At this point, I refuse to buy new clothes or shoes for my kids — all their clothes are hand-me-downs, and as soon as they’re done, we pass them on,” says Wolf. “You can buy so much less stuff than you think you need, and that can be really freeing.