Online movement has people saving money by buying nothing

Published: Aug. 2, 2022 at 2:00 PM CDT
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VESTAVIA HILLS, Ala. (WBRC) – An online gifting site designed to cut down on waste is taking on a new life as record inflation is driving up the cost of everything.

The Buy Nothing Project was started in 2013 and has grown to a worldwide gift economy network, based primarily on Facebook, with more than 7,500 groups, including a chapter in Vestavia Hills.

Marcella Shepard is one of the administrators.

“Everything is free. You can share gifts, things that you’re going to throw away, things you’re not going to use anymore that maybe another family or community member could use, and trying to keep it from going to waste, or going to a landfill,” explained Shepherd, who works full-time as a hair stylist, and has been part of the group for five years.

“We have over 2,700 [members] right now. And we have a lot of people who participate. It’s amazing.”

Shepherd said it’s amazing because of what people are willing to give away.

“Without any strings attached, or any money involved,” she explained.

Shepherd added, “You can meet others in your community that maybe you would have never stumbled upon otherwise, and making connections with others that you may never have made a connection with before.”

Those connections are saving people money, and becoming more crucial, said Shepherd, as we’ve moved from a pandemic to record inflation.

“I do think there has been an huge influx in members since the economy has bottomed out. Everyone needs help now - gas is higher, groceries are higher, everything in our lives are; my beauty supplies are a lot higher than they used to be, and it’s wonderful to see how people are sharing.”

Inflation is also impacting the types of gifts people are sharing, said Shepherd.

We had someone clean out their pantry. A person the other day gave away a turkey. And if it can help a family in need - somebody could use that turkey, you know?”

Members can also ask for gifts, and if someone has something to give, they’ll reply. Shepherd said there are usually a dozen new gifts available every day.

“A pay it forward type mentality, that’s right. I see it all the time… in our group.”

The only requirement to be part of the group is to live in Vestavia Hills, but Shepherd said The Buy Nothing Project is looking to expand to north Shelby County, Hoover, Homewood, and Mountain Brook.

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