LIVINGSTON, NJ — Upon moving to Livingston, new resident Anna Shukeylo was inspired to bring along with her a hyper-local gift economy from her hometown that would not only allow her to connect with other community members, but also help Livingston residents to declutter their homes and save money while reducing the disposal of items that contributes to overflowing landfills and ocean pollution.
The Buy Nothing Project, which was created in Washington in 2013, is now a worldwide movement with more than one million participants led by thousands of volunteers in 30 different countries. Members of participating communities are invited to either share items they would like to lend or give away or ask for anything they would like to borrow or receive for free.
When she noticed that her new community did not have its own chapter, Shukeylo immediately decided to start a group in Livingston that she said has already formed into a “wonderful, generous community” of like-minded people.
One such person was fellow resident Chayanee Chinthrajah, who serves as Shukeylo’s co-administrator for the Livingston Buy Nothing Project. The two met virtually through a training provided through Buy Nothing for new administrators who either want to join an existing group or are looking to start a new chapter.
“She had the same idea I had, so we started the group together according to all the guidelines of the Buy Nothing Project,” said Shukeylo. “So far it's everything from moving boxes to skates and confetti cannons. You never know what your neighbor might need, and asks are welcome too.”
Shukeylo added that asks can include products as well as services such as a ride to the doctor’s office.
According to its website, the Buy Nothing Project is “strictly a gift economy” with only a few simple rules for participants to follow: keep it legal, no hate speech, no buying or selling and no trading or bartering.
In a recently published book about this sustainable social experiment, founders Rebecca Rockefeller and Leisl Clark explain that a gift economy’s real wealth “is the people involved and the web of connections that forms to support them.”
Noting that the Buy Nothing Project is “not just another free recycling platform,” the founders said that the overall objective of the project is to provide an opportunity for 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.”
It also forces participants to rethink consumption, they said, adding that choosing to purchase an item from a neighbor rather than buying it new could “make an impact on the amount of goods manufactured in the first place.”
Livingston residents over the age of 21 are welcome to participate in this endeavor, which Shukeylo reiterated is not a charity, but rather a community that promotes recycling, sharing and comradery among neighbors.
To learn more or to post products, visit the Livingston Buy Nothing Facebook page BY CLICKING HERE.
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