I’m a big fan of the Buy Nothing Project. In a lot of ways, Buy Nothing is responsible for the shifting mindset I’ve developed towards America’s culture of consumerism and wastefulness. In the past, this issue used to be something I was blissfully unaware of. But now I’m growing more and more conscious of the fact that everything I purchase in my day-to-day life has an impact on the economy, the environment, my culture, and most importantly the people who are working behind the scenes to create the things I use up and discard so mindlessly.
Just months ago I was hearing words like “fair trade” and “sustainably sourced” for the first time, and wondering why “organic cotton” was an important adjective when considering clothing purchases. In fact, impulsive shopping wasn’t something I put much thought into at all. That was just life.
It’s hard to feel like we are really able to make a difference for anyone in the bigger picture. We think of things like world hunger, child labor, and unfair wages and shrug it off as someone else’s responsibility to solve. Someone richer and smarter and more powerful.
But when I started thinking about how the way I spend my money can make a difference in the life of an actual person, it began to dawn on me that my choice to buy (or not buy) an item is powerful. Very powerful.
You see, behind every purchase, behind every “made in China” sticker, is the face of an actual human being. It’s a single mother trying to support her family or a teen who dropped out of school early to help with the bills. It’s an old man working with dangerous chemicals or a young father facing unsafe labor conditions each day to put food on the table.
I’ve been slowly but surely realizing that I can do something about this. I can make a difference. Maybe not for everyone, but for someone.
This is where the Buy Nothing Project enters my story:
“Participating in a local Buy Nothing Project group allows individuals and communities to reduce their own dependence on single-use and virgin materials by extending the life of existing items through gifting and sharing between group members. Rethinking consumption and refusing to buy new in favor of asking for an item from a neighbor may make an impact on the amount of goods manufactured in the first place.”
By refocusing my efforts on sharing my abundance and seeking out ways to reuse the abundance of others before just making another mindless purchase, I’m freeing up my resources to put towards making more impactful purchasing choices on other items that I need to buy new.
This group has blessed my family in some amazing ways. One of the biggest ways that this community has really come through for us is by providing almost all of the items needed to care for our daughter. Babies can be expensive and wasteful, but they don’t have to be! Nearly every single piece of baby gear, clothing, etc. that we needed for her was gifted to us by other parents through our local Buy Nothing Group. (With the exception of gifts from friends and family and a few purchases of specific things) And when we are done using these items, you can be sure that they will re-enter the community through this group and be used again and again until they are genuinely used up. Just how it should be.