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Groups like Buy Nothing and Freecycle bolster budgets and community


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Sherose Badruddin was 38 years old when she joined her Chapel Hill Buy Nothing group five years back. She did this to help save money. She was a single mother and had a limited budget.  

She said, “I joined the Buy Nothing group in 2016 for free stuff. I believed that this was it.” “Very quickly after that I discovered it was so much MORE.”

She was five years old when she found shoes and clothes for her son and made connections with people in her local community she would not have met otherwise, she explained.

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In addition, she realized that even though she was working to cut spending, she had a lot to give – when her son outgrew toys and clothes, she gifted them back to the community.

Badruddin said, “I suppose they could have been taken to a thrift shop,” and later was an administrator for the Buy Nothing group in Chapel Hill. But the chance to share with a neighbor is really satisfying.”

A boom after the pandemic

For a long time, there have been groups who promote giving gifts and exchanging products and services free of charge. The Freecycle NetworkDeron Beal founded the company in order to collect and recycle used items. Buy NothingLiesl and Rebecca Rockefeller started the company in 2013 as an experiment to reduce plastic waste and create a local economy.

Both organizations experienced significant growth during the outbreak of coronavirus. According to the founders of Buy Nothing, the group saw a 33% increase in its membership in just one year. It now boasts 4.27 Million members in over 44 countries using 6,800 Facebook groups. (An app is in development and will launch soon.)

Rockefeller stated that the pandemic made it clear that “communities realized the importance of sharing and relying upon your neighbour” during times of crisis.

Freecycle saw an increase in activity due to the pandemic. This was something Beal noticed more than 10 years ago during the Great Recession. Freecycle now boasts more than 9 million members, and it is present in over 5,000 communities around the world.

Beal stated that “the growth of our organisation is totally counter-cyclical.”

This budget-saving tool is a must

Kate Muth (44), has found that her Brooklyn Buy Nothing group has allowed her and her family to experience things she wouldn’t have thought of buying or would not be possible with her budget.

This includes a pullup bar, which she snagged for one of her daughters — she has two, ages 4 and 9 — during the pandemic.

Muth, customer experience strategist and analyst said that “that’s a great thing I wouldn’t have spent the money for.”

The group sometimes protects her against repeat purchases. This was true for her blender. She had previously given one away, but thought that it might be pleasant to own another. Instead of buying one at the store, she found one through the community.

Tania Brown is a Certified Financial Planner and Coach at SaverLife. This non-profit focuses on helping low-income Americans save their money.

Brown felt the need to eat less in the wake of the coronavirus pandemic, so she set a one-week no spending challenge for her entire family. She now suggests similar challenges for interested clients.

She said that the core of this is being mindful about how you spend your money. Additionally, it can be helpful to join a group for gifting, which helps one look within their community to slow down emotional spending.

Brown advises that you start small if you are looking for a way to reduce your spending or be more mindful of what you buy.

It could as simple as no spending in one product that you are prone to buying impulsively. Or a week with no credit card,” she stated. This doesn’t necessarily have to mean a huge change.

Environmental impact

To be sure, such groups were first and foremost started with environmental goals — to help people recycle better and consume less. Both founders as well as members agree that there are many financial advantages to joining groups. However, they often join them to become more sustainable and better connected with their communities.

Ramona Monteros said, “I think it has more environmental impact as we throw less things away.” (AGE)An administrator to her Local group (NAMETK FROM CARMEN). in Los Angeles. While she has gotten things from her group, she has been more active on the giving side – donating clothes and toys that her two young boys have outgrown, for example.

Alison Kamat, at 69, is a retired librarian living in Washington, D.C. and volunteering with Freecycle.

It’s exciting to find something new and fun, or that has the potential for a whole new life.

Recently, Kamat found one such item — someone in her local Freecycle group posted a fajita pan that had been left outside all winter.

Kamat shared that Kamat spent the morning cleaning and polishing the pan. He also seasoned it, and now it is a fantastic pan. It was worth it. I felt really proud.

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