This research project explores the value and possibilities of Buy Nothing groups – an international digital gift economy movement – to build community and reduce consumption. The research explores the motivations, activity and outcomes of group participation for the opportunities they offer for sustainable consumption, individual waste reduction and recirculation, and social and community participation and connection. The Buy Nothing movement began in 2013 and aims to facilitate a way of giving and receiving that steps away from traditional methods of consuming via monetary exchange. These suburb or neighbourhood-based groups encourage generosity in local communities, by encouraging neighbours to gift and ask for items and services as they have or need them. The primary rule of the Buy Nothing movement is that all products are gifted – never traded or sold.
This alternative economy offers a model and insights into how everyday citizens are taking on sustainable consumption practices. The question driving the research is what are the barriers, drivers and outcomes of participation in Buy Nothing groups on Facebook? Subsequent areas of interest include the kinds of items and services that are circulated in the group, how group membership influences people’s consumption habits and what people value, throw out, and how they dispose of items. Future research planned from the project will explore the potential opportunities these cultures of generosity offer for revaluing ‘waste’ and decreasing consumption, with its associated environmental harms.
Funding / Grants
- QUT Centre for a Waste Free World (2022)