Neighbors encouraged to 'buy nothing'

Littleton mom starts chapter of movement to share extra stuff

Posted 7/9/18

Kathy Powers wants her neighbors to take her stuff. Powers helped clean out three relatives' homes last year — and ended up with a garage and basement full of, well, things. “It's close to 200 …

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Neighbors encouraged to 'buy nothing'

Littleton mom starts chapter of movement to share extra stuff

Posted

Kathy Powers wants her neighbors to take her stuff.

Powers helped clean out three relatives' homes last year — and ended up with a garage and basement full of, well, things.

“It's close to 200 boxes,” Powers said. “Knick knacks, books, tools — you name it. I've got five daughters, too, who use our house as a storage unit for all their extras. What was I going to do with all this stuff?”

Hoping that her burden can be her neighbors' gain, Powers is spearheading a Littleton chapter of the Buy Nothing Project, a blossoming international movement to connect communities by sharing supplies and talents.

“The bottom line is, we all have too much stuff, whether we admit it or not,” said Jennifer Rockenbaugh, the Buy Nothing Project's Colorado development administrator. “When we go out and buy something new, chances are one of our neighbors has one sitting around just cluttering up their house. We decided we feel better about giving away those things to our neighbors rather than trying to get five bucks for it on Craigslist.”

The Buy Nothing Project was started in 2013 in Washington by friends Rebecca Rockefeller and Liesl Clark, and has since spread to hundreds of chapters in 20 countries, according to the organization's website.

Buy Nothing groups focus on gifts of goods, time or talent, and don't allow for bartering or monetary exchanges.

The project works through Facebook groups isolated to strict geographic regions. Powers' Facebook group, called “Buy Nothing South Park/Heritage High/Downtown, Littleton, CO,” is bounded roughly by West Caley Avenue on the north, South Broadway on the east, C-470 on the south and the South Platte River on the west.

People who can't find a group covering their neighborhood are encouraged to start their own, and can get help from the project's volunteers.

Powers said she likes the idea of using material excess to get to know her neighbors.

“It's easy to take a truckload to Goodwill, but it's harder to take one thing to a neighbor,” Powers said. “Being part of the project is going to make you go say hi. Maybe you'll find out your kids go to the same school, or you'll start seeing them at the grocery store.”

Powers' group was sitting at 34 members as of July 6. She's hoping to get it past 50 in coming days, which organizers call the threshold where the level of activity makes it more worthwhile.

“More is better, obviously,” Powers said.

Neighbors are already responding.

“Our first post was a woman who bought too much milk at Costco and wanted to give away a gallon,” Powers said. “I put up a challenge this week for people to clean out their closets. I have a feeling kids' stuff will go really fast because they outgrow things so quickly.”

Buy Nothing is about asking for things too, Powers said, though it can be tough to get over the hesitance of saying you need something.

“It did get me thinking, though,” Powers said, “that I really could use an edge trimmer for my lawn.”

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