“One man’s trash is another man’s treasure” has never rung truer than with the Buy Nothing Project. This worldwide organization has gained popularity in recent years for providing an online platform for people to rehome unwanted goods (and offer services) to members of their community. Money is never exchanged because everything listed is free! The goals are to encourage neighbors to share generously, save money, and keep perfectly viable items out of a landfill by reusing them.
As someone who loves shopping secondhand and finding deals, I’ve been lucky to come across plenty of good-quality items scrolling through my Buy Nothing group. I did a rough calculation, and all the items I’ve been gifted over the last two years total over $600! The fact that I’m helping families by relieving them of things they no longer need adds to the satisfaction.
Here are eight awesome items I’ve scored for free from my Buy Nothing group along with what I might have spent if I paid for them.
My Buy Nothing Group Finds
1. Artificial Tree
Due to my lack of a green thumb, I knew this faux plant would be the perfect addition to our barren dining room. Similar items can retail for around $190 in stores and online.
2. Small Rug
This rug is too cute in my kitchen. I’ve seen similar ones on Amazon for $20-$25.
3. Egg Holder
As someone who loves an organized fridge, I couldn’t pass up on this acrylic 14-egg holder. They retail for around $15.
4. Filing Cabinet
This was actually a little dirty and scratched when we got it, but the drawers still worked well. I gave it a deep clean and hit it with two coats of black spray paint. Good as new! Filing cabinets can cost around $100.
5. White Kids’ Chairs
One of my most exciting Buy Nothing finds is this pair of swivel chairs! I couldn’t believe how well they fit in my kids’ playroom. They’re sold at Ikea for $40 each.
6. Striped Pillow
This striped rectangle pillow is a simple, finishing touch for our bed. A similar pillow cover and pillow insert can total about $25.
These basic pieces blend right in with my wardrobe. Depending on where you shop, a black long-sleeved scoop neck ribbed shirt can cost $21, and high-waisted Levi’s can go for $89.
8. Patio Swing
Although my husband had to disassemble this swing from the gifter’s home and reassemble it in our backyard, it’s been more than worth the effort. Every person in my family loves relaxing on it. I’ve seen similar swing styles for as little as $100.
The Buy Nothing Project has created a beautiful tool to help people live more mindfully and charitably, and I feel fortunate to benefit from it. Each local group operates under its own conditions for gifting and receiving items, but there are a few tenets that I think are important regardless of where you live:
- Be a giver, not just a taker. Buy Nothing groups thrive on reciprocity. Although I’ve gotten over $600 worth of products, I have probably gifted at least that much through toys, books, clothes, and household goodies.
- Communicate clearly and follow through on your word. These groups operate in good faith, and you’re expected to be reliable if you choose to participate.
- While I’m pro-free stuff, I am also anti-clutter. Be sure you have a place and a purpose for anything you’re given.
- If there’s something you’re looking for, either to own permanently or borrow, don’t be afraid to ask the group if anyone can help. It’s common to see families request everyday necessities like groceries, diapers, or even gas.
To track down your local group, the Buy Nothing worldwide directory can assist you in finding your community.
You can also search through this list of groups in Columbia and surrounding areas:
- Buy Nothing Blythewood/Sandhills/Pontiac/Killian, Columbia, SC
- Buy Nothing Northeast Columbia/ Forest Acres / Fort Jackson / Woodfield, SC
- Buy Nothing Ridgeway/Elgin/Lugoff/Camden, SC
- Buy Nothing Downtown/5 Points/Columbia/Quail Hollow, Columbia, SC
- Buy Nothing Rosewood/Lower Richland/Columbia (Southeast), Columbia, SC
- Buy Nothing Lexington/Gilbert, SC
- Buy Nothing Irmo & St. Andrews/ Seven Oaks/Riverbanks, Columbia, SC
Are you part of the Buy Nothing Project? What has your experience been like?