‘Buy Nothing Topanga Helps Save the Planet’

Annemarie DonkinBy Annemarie Donkin

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‘Buy Nothing Topanga Helps Save the Planet’
Photos by Crescent Moegling (moegling@gmail.com)
How do you gift unwanted items to friends and neighbors, get cool stuff, spend no money and help the planet? Easy! Just join your local “Buy Nothing” group. The international Buy Nothing Project on Facebook concentrates on local neighborhoods, so folks can give away and pick up items close to where they live. The Buy Nothing Project is now the world’s biggest gift economy being used in 44 countries and communities around the world, that enables neighbors to share freely with one another. Acquiring used items instead of new is another potential way to save money. Back in the day, that meant garage sales and thrift shops and the only way to dispose of unwanted but useful items was to donate or sell them on Facebook’s Marketplace, Craigslist or Letgo. Nevertheless, there must be a better way to keep our discards out of the landfill. Buy Nothing Topanga When Latoya Hawthorne and her husband, Wilson Stiner, moved to the Fernwood area of Topanga in 2018, she noticed something unusual at the corner of Grandview and Fernwood Pacific. She noticed that people would leave out sofas, chairs, tables, dressers, child car seats or clothes, almost anything discarded that could otherwise be sold or given away. “Over time, the items would be ruined by the sun, rain or just exposure,” Hawthorne said. “I just saw a lot of random furniture outside… someone on Grandview…all their old furniture. Having worked at the Downtown Women’s Center on Skid Row, I saw that people would donate or re-purpose at a retail boutique that would support permanent and affordable housing and coming to Topanga, what people deem as trash is ending up in the landfill. It really broke my heart.” Hawthorne resolved to do something about it, so she searched online and found The Buy Nothing Project. Even though she was a new mom with her baby, Sage, she took the month-long online training course and in 2021, launched Buy Nothing Topanga on Facebook. “It was worth it,” she said. “More than 100 people joined Buy Nothing Topanga within the first month and it makes me happy that items are not going in the landfill. They are doing their part in the cycle of giving and it’s wonderful that the community is doing this; we now have 237 members.”
The Buy Nothing Project
The Buy Nothing Project began when two friends, Rebecca Rockefeller and Liesl Clark, created an experimental hyper-local gift economy on Bainbridge Island, Washington, in July, 2013. Since then, it has become a worldwide social movement, with groups in 44 nations, 5.33 million Buy Nothing community members, 13,000 Buy Nothing community builders, and 7,000 individual Buy Nothing communities.

The Buy Nothing Project is now the world’s biggest gift economy, being used in communities around the world and allowing neighbors to share freely with one another.

What is a gift economy?
According to their website (buynothingproject.org), it means everything shared on Buy Nothing is given freely, no money, no barter, no strings. Free. On Buy Nothing, you can post three things:
Gifts of items or services that others can use

Ask for things you can use

Gratitudes to show appreciation and thanks

Meanwhile, Latoya Hawthorne is happy to have launched Buy Nothing Topanga because she knows it is making a real difference.

“It’s great,” Hawthorne said. “I didn’t know how the community was going to take it, getting used products and household items. If you join the group, you should give to that one person you are giving to, not just put it outside because it could get stolen. Instead, put it on their porch or a specific place in their driveway and put their name on it.”

For Hawthorne, she is also grateful for the community that has formed around Buy Nothing, especially after becoming a new mom.

“I have not had to buy my son’s clothing,” she said. “I have hand-me-downs until he’s four. It’s great to be able to form a mom’s group and share things; we post clothing, diapers and hand those down a lot. It was my main inspiration for the Buy Nothing training. Toys and clothing that kids don’t use or wear, you have so much of it; it’s great to pass that on to other people. My husband and I only buy local and handmade items; most of our items are used. We’ve gotten some things at the Buy Nothing group as well. It’s great to see people are posting what they are getting rid of.”

Learn about the Buy Nothing Project at buynothingproject.org/all-about-the-buy-nothing-project/
Join the group at Buy Nothing Topanga, CA at facebook.com/groups/151654240401591
Above: Latoya Hawthorne started the Facebook group, Buy Nothing Topanga, after she and her husband moved to Topanga in 2018 and saw many useful items abandoned on the roadsides that could be used or given away. Left: Holiday gift giving sponsored by Buy Nothing Sand Point outside of Seattle, WA.
Annemarie Donkin

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February 18, 2022