Were I to join a Buy Nothing group, how would I get all these things? Do I want someone’s used nail brush? Their old winter tees? Nobody is giving up a back scratcher — why would they? And the salad dressing tote? I’m the only person I know who thinks about how she’s going to dress her salad while on the road.
We could cheerfully donate 11 tubes of Super Glue to someone who needs that many, or to eleven different people, but do people ask for that? Is that something a Do Nothing — I mean, a Buy Nothing — member asks for? “Hey, I’m in desperate need of Super Glue. Anybody got any?” I’d give them the one we already opened, because I wouldn’t want their tube drying up between uses, like ours does, and no one needs an entire tube of Super Glue for one repair. If they do, they need to throw the thing away.
The website wasn’t clear on this, but does this Buy Nothing principle apply to groceries? Could we donate the half full carton of milk in the fridge that is two molecules away from souring, but we wait until it actually slimes its way out of the carton looking for prey before being so wasteful as to throw it away? Or a half full bottle of nail polish of a color I hate, but kept using to get rid of and which has now separated into two colors? Can members ask for big items, like a car or a house?
There is nothing anyone else has that I want, unless it’s smaller feet, and getting someone else’s feet, or even asking for them, would lead to serious legal issues.
On the other hand, there’s a ton of stuff I’d like to get rid of, and for that, I call the Vietnam Vets pickup service. They are not going to talk among each other while rooting through my boxes and complain about the things I gave away and how a homeless person wouldn’t take them if they were paid to.
I offered to buy something for the person who is a member of this group, and she didn’t refuse my offer. It didn’t cost much, but I figured she couldn’t afford it. Turns out, she took a vow, which is a totally different animal than not being able to afford it. I expected some kind of argument out of politeness’ sake, but no, she didn’t make a peep — just gave me her address. Ah, I see how it works now. They buy nothing, but don’t have anything against someone else doing it.
A day could go by where I don’t buy anything. I can do that. A day rarely goes by where I don’t throw something in a giveaway box, something with an expired “return by” date, leaving me with a donate-able item and a sense of helpful community. That’s way too much fun to give up.
And I hope they like those old house slippers with which I finally parted ways.