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How Does Buy Nothing Work?

Over five years ago, when we were house hunting, there was a house that was beautifully staged and had a round entry table. Ever since, I’ve wanted to build an entry table but it was pretty low on the financial priority list. After all, it’s pretty much just for decor.

Needless to say, I was excited when I saw someone gifting a round table in my local Buy Nothing Group!

If you aren’t familiar with Buy Nothing, they are local groups, on Facebook, where you can gift, receive, and show gratitude. It isn’t a charity but rather a gift economy.

If you’d like to look for a Buy Nothing Group in your area, you can do a search here or on Facebook.

Even more exciting was that we were gifted the table, after expressing interest.

Here’s How Buy Nothing Works

1. A neighbor posts a picture of an item they want to gift to another neighbor.

This can be anything – clothes, food, furniture, kitchenware, a service, time …

2. Those interested comment, in the thread, with their interest.

It is encouraged to let items ‘simmer’. This means you give the item time to gather interest instead of picking the first person who expresses interest.

3. The gifter chooses who they would like to gift to.

So often, on Facebook Marketplace, the first person who responds is the one who gets to purchase the item. Not so in Buy Nothing as the gifter is able to pick who they would like to gift to out of all who are interested.

There are multiple ways a gifter may choose who to gift to when there are multiple people interested in their gift. They may use a number generator, choose the person who described why they would like the item, let their kids pick who to choose, close their eyes and point … you get the idea! The gifter is not obligated to pick the first person to respond and may choose who they would like to gift to exactly the way they see fit.

4. The giftee picks the item up from their neighbor.

Once an item is gifted, the conversation moves to Facebook Messenger where the gifter and giftee arrange for the giftee to pick up the item.

5. Gratitude is given.

This is an often overlooked part of the Buy Nothing movement but an important one all the same. After an item is picked up and used in its new home, the giftee is encouraged to show gratitude for the item in the Buy Nothing Group.

How To Post On Buy Nothing

Gift

If you have an item to post in your local Buy Nothing Group, it’s common practice to take one picture of the item and begin your post with the word Give: followed by the description of the item you are gifting and the neighborhood where the item will need to be picked up.

Give: Four dining table chairs that could use a good refinishing. Pick up in Winston Hills.

Quick Give

It is encouraged to let things ‘simmer’ at least 24 hours before choosing who to gift to but, if you must gift something quickly, start your post with Quick Give: followed by the description. This way giftees know your intentions.

Quick Give: Four dining table chairs. Must be picked up tonight in Winston Hills.

Gifted

After the gift has been picked up, the giftee would then change their post to say Gifted:

Gifted: Four dining table chairs that could use a good refinishing. Pick up in Winston Hills

Buy Nothing Gifted example post.

Gratitude

If the giftee would like to show gratitude to the gifter, they can simply begin with Gratitude: or Thank you: and thank the gifter by tagging them and letting them know how they are using the item. A picture is always nice, as well!

Gratitude: Thank you @Sally Jane for the gift of dining table chairs! Our previous chairs had seen better days so we are grateful to now have chairs that don’t creek every time we sit at the table!

Buy nothing gratitude post example.

Although gratitude isn’t required, it encourages others to give when they see how gifts are appreciated!

Ask

Believe it or not, you can also ask for an item you are looking for! Simply start the post with Ask: and follow up with the item you are looking for. Many people have things collecting dust, in their homes, and will gladly part with those things if they know someone would make good use of them!

Ask: Stuffed Scooby Doo for my son to add to his Shaggy Halloween costume.

A table gifted on Buy Nothing with the text, 'How Does Buy Nothing Work?'

Fortunately for us, no one else showed interest in the round table and it was gifted to us!

This post contains affiliate links. When you purchase through an affiliate link, we receive a small commission at no additional cost to you. Disclosure.

My husband and I set to work to refinish the table and I built a tabletop riser to add dimension and interest. We used a lot of decor we already had on hand and added a few new treasures like this Hearth & Hand with Magnolia Glass Vase.

We are super happy with the way this project came together and it was an incredibly frugal way to make our vision come to life, thanks to Buy Nothing!

In a time when so many people are struggling, financially, a Buy Nothing Group can be a great way to gift and receive, without spending!

On a funny note, I videoed my husband spraying Easy Off on the base of our new (to us) table, posted it on TikTok, and it now has over 70K views. We are quite shocked and confused as to why that simple video, that I created on our way to Costco, has blown up but it’s kind of fun! … and I’ve gained over 100 followers from that video, on TikTok!

More Buy Nothing Gifts

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