Buy Nothing Clubs – Get and give away free items

Here’s a great way to save money this holiday season and beyond: spend nothing at any of the hyperlocal no-purchase clubs available nationwide.

Aiming to give second-hand items a second life, these groups are gaining popularity, especially with older women looking for ways to fight inflation. The consumer price index rose 7.7% in October compared to the same month last year.

Prices for clothing, furniture and most other consumer goods are higher than a year ago.

“Every time we see the economy start to deteriorate, our statistics tend to age and favor women,” says Deron Beal, executive director of the Freecycle Network, a nonprofit giving network. “We are responding to a vital need for people.”

How Clubs Work Without Buying Anything

No Purchase Clubs are made up of community members who list items they donate or post requests for items they want. No money changes hands and barter is not allowed. Participants meet in public places to exchange second-hand items, or leave them on porches. Clothing, furniture, food, appliances, books and a host of other products are offered daily. Most activity takes place on Facebook or through standalone apps and websites. Groups are hyperlocal, typically limited to a zip code, neighborhood, mile radius, or city block.

“It’s a way to connect with neighbors. You give away things you no longer need and get things you need, all for free,” says Liesl Clark, CEO of Buy Nothing Project. “Rather than going out and buying Tupperware or pots and pans, you can ask your local community through Buy Nothing and inevitably you’ll find someone trying to get rid of that thing you need.”

The Buy Nothing non-profit project focuses on community building, encouraging members to share services as well as goods. For example, Clark says some members volunteer their time and skills to help their neighbors. Many members are seniors who need companionship as well as free items. Seniors join for all sorts of reasons, says Clark: to give back to the community, to connect with others, to have a positive impact on the environment or downsize without wasting items that still have utility.

“It’s a fun and whimsical way to connect a lot of seniors who need basic supplies without having to drive 25 to 35 minutes” to get to a store, she says.

Christy J. Olson