Sharing is Caring – and so Much More

The Buy Nothing Project logo. Photo: Facebook

Editor’s note: Roberta Garbarini’s story won first place in The Kiosk’s Spring 2024 Community Reporting Contest.

I learned about the BuyNothing Rivertowns Facebook group shortly after moving to Hastings-on-Hudson in Westchester County last August. The group, part of a worldwide network of micro-local gift economies, offers its 6,300 members a way to give and receive, share, lend and express gratitude. Once someone is accepted as a member (the only requirement is residency in the area), they can post anytime they have something to give away or need an item they would rather not buy, for financial or environmental reasons, or simply because they believe in community sharing. Chances are they will find what they are looking for in a matter of hours.

When I moved to my new place, I didn’t bring much from the old house and had limited financial resources. This community group made it possible for me to furnish, decorate, and accessorize my apartment with many beautiful and functional items — from a Pottery Barn quilt to a TV to so many decorative candles! I also spoiled myself by responding to offers of things I didn’t necessarily need but would have loved to have, like fancy shoes, bags and costume jewelry.

I have always given away used clothes and other items to charity, but this is another way in which I can gift things I no longer need, locally, to real-life neighbors. It makes me feel good to contribute to the sharing economy and save products that still have a lot of life left from ending up in the landfill. Most importantly, people in need can get immediate and concrete help from this wonderful community.

In a recent post, a member wrote: “To everyone in this incredible BuyNothing community that donated, supported, and offered assistance to help a single mom with health issues get some basics in a new apartment with her 18-month-old, thank you! Mom is incredibly grateful for everyone’s generosity.”

But there is another precious gift that this community has given me. I don’t have a car and, while for long distances I move around with public transportation or take the occasional Uber ride, I like to walk everywhere I can. When I find out the pick-up address of an item I “won,” I am just as excited about the adventure of going to retrieve it as I am for the gift. I check the route on Google Maps and organize my trip, which can be anything from a short walk away to a hike to the hilly part of town or to another village. During these long walks, which are also great to get my daily steps in, I usually listen to music, a podcast or an audiobook, or talk to a loved one on the phone.

Getting ready for a pick-up after a snowfall. 
(The boots were also generously donated by a member of the BuyNothing Rivertowns Facebook group.) Photo Roberta Garbarini
Getting ready for a pick-up after a snowfall.
(The boots were also generously donated by a member of the BuyNothing Rivertowns Facebook group.) Photo: Roberta Garbarini

Thanks to these fun excursions, I discovered many special places during different times of the year and walked in all kinds of weather. My phone camera is full of pictures of sights that made me stop in my tracks and admire the beauty of nature and architecture. At times, I had to add a short bus or train ride because the pick-up place was just too far or the item was too heavy, but I usually try to complete my mission on foot. When I get back home, the item I collected is the reward for the time and energy spent on the road.

On the BuyNothing Rivertowns Facebook group, members sometimes post to express their gratitude and show photos of the items they have graciously received in their new home. The things they receive are not all they are grateful for. “Seeing people cooperate and support each other on this page,” Roma H. shared, “has given me a stronger sense of community and faith in my fellow rivertowns residents.” I couldn’t agree more.

This is my gratitude post. I wish to thank this group of generous and environmentally conscious people for helping me make my home beautiful and comfortable, encouraging me to explore my lovely new town, and showing me the value of community sharing.

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