Local Buy Nothing Groups Are Turning Contentious

This may be inevitable

navy blue Shopping bag
Even among consumerism's discontents, there is discontent.
Lucrezia Carnelos/Unsplash

Many of us live in a world in which far too many things are disposable — or, to be more precise, are too easily disposed of. It’s one of the reasons that numerous local Buy Nothing groups have popped up around the country, letting people know where they can list items they no longer need that someone else might want. The end table that doesn’t quite fit in your living space might be perfect for someone else’s, and if it means that the piece of furniture stays out of a landfill, that’s so much the better.

Unfortunately, even people who agree on the importance of buying fewer things don’t always agree on everything else. That’s led WIRED and Curbed to each publish articles about schisms wracking local Buy Nothing organizations around the nation. Some of this could be from the concept’s growing pains. As Curbed’s article notes, the Buy Nothing Project arose from a 300-member Facebook group started by Washington State residents Rebecca Rockefeller and Liesl Clark a decade ago. Now, Buy Nothing-related Facebook groups have millions of members around the world — and it’s not hard to see how friction might develop over how different people interpret the core concept.

The two articles take different approaches to the conflict within the movement. WIRED zeroes in on the Buy Nothing Project attempting to break away from its roots in Facebook, while Curbed’s reporting centers around a probably inevitable conflict — as the Buy Nothing Project’s founders tried to refine what they’d created, some participants bristled at the changes they were making.

The Vermont Country Store Is the Humble Menswear Mecca You Never Knew You Needed
It’s time to forgo modern retail in favor of old-fashioned general stores

Drama or no drama, there’s a lot to admire about the goals of the Buy Nothing Project. The clashes described in these articles may pass or they may lead to seismic changes; even so, it seems likely that there will always be somewhere for you to swap old clothing or furniture for something you need more.

The InsideHook Newsletter.

News, advice and insights for the most interesting person in the room.