How Long Could You Go Without Buying Anything? Thanks To This Viral Movement, A Pretty Long Time.

We all know that America is a land of excess, and we all want to spend less money. But what if we could actually survive without buying anything? Thanks to the amazing power of social media, that’s becoming a reality for communities around the world.

It’s called the Buy Nothing Project, and it began in July 2013 as a neighborhood Facebook group on Bainbridge Island, WA. Locals began posting photos of items they were interested in giving away, and grateful folks in need replied. No exchange of money, simply gifting and receiving.

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The concept was such a hit that the movement quickly grew, now appearing in neighborhoods around the U.S., Canada, and a handful of other countries. There are more than 300 groups in all, and that number is growing. (If your town doesn’t have one, you can start one up.)

There’s no limit to what can be exchanged. According to the Buy Nothing blog, “People give clothes, dinners, crock pots, plants, rabbits, snakes, rabbit-eating snakes. We’ve seen used and clean Ziploc bags offered, laundry detergent, antiques, bicycles, antique bicycles, canoes, kombucha, branches, flowers, cement blocks, eggs, beds, broccoli, custard, and crickets.”

But it’s more than just a donation system. The simple act of giving has torn down walls between neighbors. It’s created community in spirit, not just in name. It’s a social movement, “enabling people and communities to commit episodic acts of daily good together.”

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G. H. was raised in Minnesota, but currently calls Seattle her home. She's a blogger, editor, and journalist, and she's written everything from news reports to restaurant reviews. If she's not putting pen to paper, G. H. is probably experimenting in the kitchen, chilling out on her yoga mat, or running through a city park.