My wife purchased a pair of cowboy boots many moons ago. They were undoubtedly cool but they sat in a box for years, unloved and often forgotten. We were rudely reminded quickly that selling old stuff can be a huge hassle and a downer when she finally sold the boots. It usually goes like this:
Make a listing and wordsmith it into an engaging sales pitch.
You can find a variety of boots on sale by looking at other posts. Boot regret is real.
Accept an offer! Accept the offer
Ghosted by the buyer Repeat the process two or three more times.
Make a deal! Get your boots packed. Pack boots for UPS
You have to put in 12 hours work to earn $20.
Selling your stuff is not only difficult, but also not financially worthwhile. There are many platforms to help you do this. It's clear that we all have too many things and it can be difficult to get rid of them responsibly. We are all in debt, but we continue to buy stuff because it's how civilization was built. It's a machine that takes our money and makes us want more. The clutter can have a negative impact on our mental health, particularly when we feel trapped in our ever-more cluttered homes.
If you feel like this about your relationship with stuff, if you have a garage full of junk and/or don't have the money to purchase the things you need, there's a better way.
Instead, buy nothing
Although the Buy Nothing Project was launched in 2013, it has been around since forever. The introduction of platforms that allow people to connect has made it easier. It's simple. People post items they wish to get rid of on Facebook or other websites such as Freecycle.org. They arrange for a handoff when someone contacts them. Instead of waiting for something on the message boards, people can post requests for items they require.
Fortune noted that the pandemic lockdowns gave the gift economy a boost. People simultaneously realized how much stuff they had, and how reluctant they were about going to crowded shops. Between March 2020 and January 2021 the Buy Nothing Project had 1.5 million members. Freecycle.org reported that their site saw an increase of 100 percent in activity during this time.
What are people willing to give away? Everything. Everything. People can also request and offer skills. You could, for example, offer your skills to help others in your area if you like putting together Ikea furniture. You only need to join a platform.
There are a few rules that you must follow: You cannot offer or request illegal goods, you can't mock or insult anyone, and you can never expect any compensation. This isn't bartering. It's giving. It is generally not acceptable to say that you are going to throw away the item, or to call offers "limited time" or first-come, last serve.
Local groups are the best way to engage. They usually have a Facebook Group. There are apps available for Android and iOS. After creating your profile, you can start posting Gives (offering a product or service), Asks(requesting things you need) or Gratitudes ("giving thanks") for any help you receive. It's encouraged that you post about it on social media to help grow the community. The more people who give away stuff, the better. You will need to join the "hyperlocal", Facebook Group for your area, or start one if there is none.
You can view local posts on Freecycle without having to create an account. However, to claim items or post items, you must sign up at the site. If there isn't one, you can join it. Although it's not as user-friendly as the BuyNothing App.
You might be able to let go of everything in your crawl space or attic, which can become addictive. Here's a partial list of some of these strange things people have given away:
A jar of pickle Juice ("I just really love pickle juice"), explained the claimant
Dryer lint is used to light campfires or for bedding small pets.
Half-eaten birthday cakes, for which there should be an app that provides this service, yes?
Buy Nothing can be a lifestyle that doesn't waste anything if you are willing to accept it.
Benefits of buying nothing
There are many benefits to the gift economy. You can declutter your home without having to worry about becoming the worst Small Business Owner in the world. Access to lots of stuff for free that you can get for walking or driving just a few blocks. You will save time, stress, money, and effort.
You're doing something good for the world by reducing waste and limiting consumption. You're not just throwing old stuff in the trash (which, let's be honest, is the easiest thing to do), but you are making someone's life easier. You're also not dumping packaging into the landfills if you buy preowned items. We've all seen packages from Amazon that contained a small product and filled it with bubbles of plastic.
The less tangible benefits are just as important. It's a social activity that can be done in your locality. You will meet new people and make connections with your neighbors. It will feel like you are helping others and getting help in return--an old-fashioned sense of community. It can have a profound psychological effect on your brain if you don't buy anything.
Yes, everyone could go Buy Nothing and the world economy would collapse, and we all will be fighting for our lives in some Hunger Game. We'll still have our boots.