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Buy-Nothing Community

We were part of our neighborhood Buy-Nothing Facebook group when we lived in Altadena, California, and found it a great way to generate good feelings and meet neighbors. And of course get rid of stuff we were finished with and gain some free items we loved.

So when we moved to Colorado and discovered that there was no existing group in our mountain town, Cat decided to start one. The online training was comprehensive, painless, and quick, and they soon launched a local group encompassing three close-by small towns. The group swelled to 250 members in less than a year, and many great items changed hands.

But the best stories of participating in Buy Nothing were again the relationships we've built. Early on, we put out an "ask" for someone to help us learn to use the circular saw that we inherited with our new house safely. A neighbor volunteered, and turned out to be one of the friendliest, most generous humans we've ever had the pleasure of befriending. (Paul not only taught us to use our circular saw without cutting a limb off, he also gave us some saw blades and a load of composted horse manure, and later we hired him to adjust our doors and build our greenhouse.)

Cat gave a neighbor a cozy pair of cashmere sweatpants they'd outgrown, and the neighbor jumped at the chance to reciprocate later on by gifting us with a gently used massage table we'd been wanting that they didn't have room for. All the good feelings generated have us itching to get together for dinner as soon as we get the chance.

How does this relate to climate action?

Not only does sharing extra stuff freely with neighbors save the carbon used to manufacture and transport new things, but it also creates relationships of mutual goodwill that contribute to the resilience of the community in the face of challenges such as the increased risk from wildfires and drought due to climate change.

The Buy Nothing project has recently launched a separate app, which has the advantage of including people who live just over the artificial boundary lines of the Facebook groups, and including people who aren't on Facebook. It also has the disadvantage of being a separate app to check, rather than piggy-backing on the fact that many of us already check Facebook regularly. So we'll see how the group evolves.

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