Get Started with Facebook Buy Nothing Groups

If you didn’t quit Facebook in the last news cycle, here is your reward for sticking it out: your local Buy Nothing group. Buy Nothing communities are hyper-local gifting economies, connecting users through closed Facebook groups based on home address. 

I stumbled upon Buy Nothing in my journey toward greener living, but these groups can be total game-changers if you want to declutter, save money or do some good in your community.

Declutter or find a good home for your old stuff.  

Save yourself those trips to Goodwill! My spouse loves Buy Nothing, in no small part because I am filling his backseat with donations far less frequently. And skip the garage sale. No need to tag everything and lug it out to your yard and lose your Saturday morning. Just post a photo and wait for a neighbor to offer to pick it up.

Buy Nothing’s hyper-local focus means it is incredibly easy to get your items where they need to go, and it makes getting rid of those small freebies (like the pipe cleaners and beads we recently gifted) worth the minimal effort. No one is going to drive across the Fremont Bridge for your child’s leftover finger paint, but plenty of people would walk a few blocks for it. 

All gifts are created equal on Buy Nothing. I have gifted items as small as a half full box of trash bags that no longer fit our new trash can and as large as an old vanity we had been trying to get rid of for months (after twenty minutes on Buy Nothing, three neighbors offered to pick it up, and it was gone the next day). Periodically, the admins will encourage you to gift or request on a certain theme, like Maybe Monday, when participants are encouraged to quit hesitating and post those big asks, or Foodie Friday, for gifting that coconut flour you are never going to use before it expires. 

Post a need on Buy Nothing, and wait for the magic to begin.

My son had seriously outgrown his bike and I only noticed when I heard another kid say, “Wow, your bike is really small.” I was planning a trip to Next Adventure, when I decided to post my first gift request on my Buy Nothing group just to see what would happen. Not only did a parent offer a fantastic bike, but she also offered to drop it off, and we had a lovely chat when she did. You may also request to borrow items, if minimalism is more your speed.  

Connect with your local community and model generosity for your kids.

There’s something Santa-magical about Buy Nothing, and the kids absolutely feel it. My daughter received an Elsa bike helmet, complete with tiara, through Buy Nothing, and every time she wears it, she says, “I just love it!” And Buy Nothing makes it easy for kids to reciprocate that kindness, by making it possible (and easy!) for them to gift their own possessions. Let your child offer some of those extra Pokémon cards to a new trading devotee or empty the costume bin of a few extra princess dresses.

Posting is not just for tangible items, but also skills and offers of help, which makes Buy Nothing a fantastic springboard for making friends in your community. It is the screen time that will actually bring you closer to other people.


For all the ten-for-ten introverts out there, does this sound exhausting? I hear you! Despite the emphasis on community, porch pick-up for gifted items is totally fine and may be the most common. The majority of the items I have gifted have been picked up from my door while we were out and about. A warm thank-you over Facebook message absolutely counts as gratitude and connection.

Getting Started

Search Facebook for Buy Nothing, and you will see a list of local groups. Find the one for your neighborhood and send a request to join. If your neighborhood does not have a group yet, you can either start one yourself or request to join the one closest to you. Once your admin adds you to the group, you will be ready to start gifting.

Do read the guidelines for your group. All of the rules are there to increase community, and they are worth perusing, if only to avoid a (fittingly) polite and friendly reminder from your admin. Civility reigns on Buy Nothing, and the kindness bar is high, which makes for a lovely experience for all.  

Join your neighborhood group today and enjoy gifting! 

Update 2022: Buy Nothing now has an app, no Facebook account required! Facebook groups are still operating, but the app is an alternative (with slightly different rules).

Meg Asby
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