buy nothing

(2020) by Liesl Clark and Rebecca Rockefeller


intro’d via vicki:

These days many of us are going to the store less often, and buying less stuff.  

Two women on Bainbridge Island have been doing this for years, and they have over one-million followers in 30 different countries doing the same through ‘Buy Nothing’ groups.

Liesl Clark and Rebecca Rockefeller started the Buy Nothing Project in 2013. Now they’ve written a new book: The Buy Nothing, Get Everything Plan: Discover the Joy of Spending Less, Sharing More, and Living Generously.





of course the plastic had been there all along; we just hadn’t seen it until now. and once we saw it, we couldn’t unsee it. all of these items, things we used and relied on every day, had made their way to our beaches and were hiding in plain sight, not so much overtaking the beach as actually becoming part of it


the buy nothing project, a social collective of local give econs – an alt to the market econ – in which neighbors share/ask/give .. instead of buying/tossing


many of us have become unsatisfied, wanting much more than we need.. our appetite for more is costing us a fortune, taking a toll on both our wallets/environ

a true, modern gift econ model.. a system in which goods/services are distributed as true gifts, freely given w/o any expectation of reward, never bartered, traded, or sold

each participant accrues social standing thru their actions

i don’t think that’s no strings.. red flag

buy nothing offers a chance to extend mindset to you are giving/receiving w/o spending any money at all


we were able to prove tha anyone could buy nothing, asking for gifts before shopping.. offering gifts instead of stockpiling or throwing out

well.. not anyone.. just the places you tried it.. right?.. there’s this whole systemic issue.. ie: refugees, incarcerateds, homeless.. anywhere where they are lacking resources .. otherwise.. this would have created global equity by now

the passing along of such seemingly random but very useful item signaled that we could take care of one another.. we each had things that other people needed/wanted, small/big.. and the joy in sharing these things was same no matter the gift.. neighbors got to know neighbors.. et al


we found there are 3 basic actions in a healthy gift econ that serve to strengthen the social fabric of any community: gives, asks, expressions of gratitude

again.. not any community.. just the privileged ones

the secret? making sure ever gift is offered freely, w no expectation of something in return

legit secret.. but.. another.. is that it has to be for all of us.. everyone.. or the dance won’t dance


on training for how to be a compassionate leader.. rules, guidelines..

red flags

huge diff if local .. no more than 1000.. sweet spot around 500



we hope you’ll treat this book like a workbook

red flag

most solid safety we have in times of want comes from being rooted in a giving culture, in which we are comfortable giving/receiving freely.. w/o any shaming or strings attached


but again.. has to be for everyone.. not just currently privileged.. those are strings

1 – why we should buy nothing


on plastics.. best answer.. refuse to buy it in first place


on why it seems we are hardwired to buy.. obsession w stuff.. found: people seem to view their stuff as tangible aspects of their id.. proof of their worth, value, existence/importance in universe.. ‘i have stuff therefore i am’

and it’s clearly creating significant stress for families.. particularly the mothers


as we become less connected w one another, our things have become the holders of our stories, reminding us that we matter.. this is the crux of where we are as a society: our increasing isolation has led us to accumulate more than we can manage.. and makes it harder to let go.. we can satisfy both intrinsic and extrinsic goals thru buying nothing.. we can accumulate (extrinsic) as we strengthen ties to community (intrinsic)

true.. but deeper.. ie: maté basic needs.. can’t just share stories/things.. need to make sure 8b people are listening to the itch-in-the-soul.. get us back/to knowing what enough is


heart of buy nothing movement: understanding the hidden needs driving our consumerism and accumulation of things helps us id and meet our deeper needs.. the intangibles such as id, connections and self worth that we need more than new stuff..

2 – an invitation to buy nothing


7 step challenge

this blueprint truly is for everyone, no matter where you live or your econ circumstances; gift econs work for all of us because we all have access to the same innate generous human nature

good on that.. still don’t know if everyone can do what your laying out.. today

every nillionaire (bought nothing for months/years) we’ve met had these things in common: resourceful, deeply connected to others, healthy perspective on trappings of commercialism.. we hear them talk about the abundance they live in rather than the deprivations they have felt by by not buying.. rely more on community for support


the rules are simple: buy nothing for as long as you can, other than the allowed expenses we list below..


steps: 1\ give 2\ ask 3\ reuse and refuse 4\ reflect (hidden needs behind desire to buy more) 5\ make/fix 6\ share, lend and borrow 7\ gratitude (essential superglue)


exceptions: meals, bills, travel, prescriptions and personal care/toiletries, education, stamps/shipping, charitable/political contributions, experiences/events, expenses that support artists

whoa.. so this is truly not for everyone.. ie: so many can’t even imagine paying for those things..

and if we were (all of us) healthy.. those things wouldn’t even be things ie: supposed to’s.. of school/work killing us as much as .. and perpetuating.. buying things..

we need to let go of money (any form of measuring/accounting) if we want to get to the roots of healing for all of us


step 1 – give

giving is simple/natural.. in our very nature to do.. but after most vulnerable time (newborns), things become more complicated, esp in a capitalist society.. beyond toddler yrs encouraged to be independent and self reliant.. collecting resources to care for ourselves.. later in adolescence and adulthood.. we discover the rewards of selling our labor/things instead of giving.. and we don’t always recognize the full value of our talents/objects/experiences w/o attaching monetary value to them..

money (any form of measuring/accounting).. messing with us.. scrambling us


the village’s gift econ require that each household is given the same amt of social capital, or equal ability to regift the items they didn’t need to families that needed them.. social capital can be defined as the productive social relationships in any community that make up the true web of mutual bonds.. so baby clothes useful to gma living alone.. so she can regift them.. importance of having something to give.. overnight.. she struggled to regain her sense of dignity/swelfworth, while feeling isolated by her finacial poverty amid her largely wealth community

yeah.. i think that’s a cancerous angle.. we do each have something to give.. our art.. which is something already in us.. (has to be something already in us.. not something external that we then share).. our art/fittingness as something we can’t not give.. and the something our one body ness needs most


on being poor (money wise) as being shameful.. rich as givers… poor as takers.. and on our connections built not around neighborhoods.. but around work, school, gym, et al.. 3rd places away from home..

despite the fact that we all have needs/wants, and an innate ability/desire to both give/receive, there are no prescribed ways to do this on equal footing, person to person

we just can’t hear any.. ie: 2 convers as infra

and this is contributing to an excess of stuff that’s draining our bank accounts and natural resources..

even more than that.. our energy.. distracting from soul-itch by all the clutter


in its purest antrhopological sense, gift gi in is a symbolic form of reciprocity that can help integrate each of us into scoiety, ensurin gwe’ll be cared for and guaranteein our won role in imporoving the lot of others

that’s strings.. red flag

serial gift giving is akin to a political move, one tha tsparks unspoke obligation, creating a bond between giver and reciever, and integration of both into th egreater good

oh my.. more like obligation that creates/perpetuates enslavement..

by offering up something you no longer need,.. you’ll both help the environ and improve your social standing

red flag

conspicuous consumption isn’t doing our planet any favors; conspicuous sharing is the antidote.. a powerful tools for good, both social /environ.. anonymous giving, as laudable as it is, doesn’t necessarily provide much needed binding social glue fora community

so by glue you mean coercion..



not talking giving that leaves you feeling depleted, but giving that comes from a place of abundance, giving that makes you feel powerful and respected..

so many words in book are good.. but then so many are so off.. dang..

red flags if you’re doing it to be powerful/respected..


most valuable gifts.. gifts of human connection.. service.. time.. expertise..

step 2 – ask


a couple important unspoken rules in a gift econ.. 1\ all gifts have equal value.. if monetized or put on hierarchy of value.. we would all compete for what the market defines as most valuable gifts..

10 day care center ness

but for that to be true/legit – no competition et al – need to let go of all money (any form of measuring/accounting)

2\ gifts not cashed out

step 3 – reuse and refuse

refuse to buy in first place


one dress/year experiment.. hardly anyone notice.. focus on the things you truly love and wear the heck out of them.. same with things.. don’t save stuff for special occasions.. make every day special.. use what you love.. let go of rest

step 4 – reflect


before buying ask – is there another way i can meet this need/desire.. not that we don’t get new things.. just don’t buy them.. ie: swap


ie: swap – each transaction build s a enw strand in a netwro of interconnections.. the magic many of us are looking for.. we fill ourshopping carts to filla void tha ocmes from disconnections..


ask for everything your heart desires,.. examine what’s at the core of your desire.. we each have conscious needs/wants and we each have hidden/subconscious needs that drive many of our wants.. when we expose those hidden parts we can take control of our accumulation and let go of stuff

step 5 – make and fix


stop consuming the things that are better made than bought.. chase your dreams.. share your art.. what do you love to do


kintsugi – art from in japan.. broken ceramics are repaired w a lacquer mixed w gold, silver.. bringing attention to breaks.. if break something.. turn it into something beautiful

step 6 – share, lend, and borrow


our community was mystified: why would we loan valuable items to strangers..our self run lending library idea fizzled because we hadn’t accounted for the most important element of sharing: trust.. it turn out that trust is exactly what grows in local gift econs.. each time a stranger gives/receives a gift.. people suddenly tied together thru generosity and trust is built up..

yeah.. i don’t think that’s how legit trust works.. ie: by what you’re saying.. if people don’t appear to be giving.. can’t be trusted..

i think trust has to be no strings.. or it’s not trust.. it’s judgment

sharing is a sign of a healthy giving network and it’s at the heart of buying nothing..

step 7 – gratitude


we’re advocating for the even more powerful practice of expressing gratitude in front of others.. these public displays of gratefulness give others a serotonin boost too..

yeah.. i like think we may be better off more like the tribes who don’t say thank you because it’s no big deal (the sharing etc).. saying thank you .. and esp in front of others.. becomes a show.. non legit.. competitive even

w/o gratitude we feel as though we’re taking part in impersonal transactions, a world where givers give, takers receive, and no one talks about it

those are strings.. better that it’s not the issue.. that people aren’t praised/shamed.. if we want to get to global equity.. clean oceans.. fittingness


when people see that freely giving, receiving and sharing has a concrete, meaningful impact on others, they want in on the action..

slippery slope.. is it really freely..? what we want is people doing their art.. that they can’t not give away.. not giving because they want in on some action..

i’ve seen the worst of what group mentality can do.. i’ve seen the best of what a community can accomplish together..

yeah.. so this is all great.. and definitely kinder.. but it’s dangerous as well.. because not getting to the roots of healing.. not getting to our core.. ie: what you’re modeling/practicing is group mentality.. getting people to focus on sharing/giving et al.. rather than being/doing their art.. and so.. you haven’t really seen the best of what a community is (accomplish is a red flag word).. how a legit community dances..

‘in undisturbed ecosystems ..the average individual, species, or population, left to its own devices, behaves in ways that serve and stabilize the whole..’ –Dana Meadows

without having to say/proclaim/join gratitudes.. gratitude will be there.. but not in such concrete/presentational/visible.. ways


on posting (virtual/physical) notes of thanks.. so everyone can see it

that ‘show’ is dangerous.. keeping us from us.. leaving some out.. making people want to perform.. just to be a part of the group.. rather than holding true to their fittingness.. we don’t need that distraction..

we all love to be recognized for the ways we give to those closest to us

we were taught that.. and that’s part of the cancer keeping us from us

just the beginning: buy nothing for life

(pep talk to keep on – ie: keep doing 7 steps as 7 day exercise)

a vision for the future

on trees.. network of interconnectedness.. each organism tapping into underground web of fungi to transfer resources to one another.. if we think of ourselves as trees in forest.. we can create similar web of connection..

yeah.. (again while what you suggest is nicer).. we’re missing the natural ness of that if we go about it with ie: 7 steps.. posting accolades.. et al.. we have that interconnectedness already in us.. we just need to create the conditions.. for 8b of us (has to be all of us in sync or it won’t work).. to be free enough to know/remember.. what enough is

giving networks as aid organizations.. we believe this kind of person to person world wide network can make a diff in any disaster and is a viable alt model that could work in parallel w larger aid agencies .. buying nothing taps into our innate desire to help.. if enough of us take ton the 7 steps .. we’ll discover that we can create a powerful local resource and spark the ability to become more resilient and adaptable to anything power outages, job loss, illness, divorce, wildfires, and hurricanes..

so.. yeah.. sans the 7 steps.. those are strings.. those aren’t trusting people.. thinking we have to train them et al..

rather.. if we set/keep free enough.. from ie: supposed to’s.. most of the things you listed would become irrelevant.. (work, illness, etc).. some wouldn’t happen.. (8b alive people= happy earth)


starting online to provide world an online global gift econ hub.. designed from everything we’ve learned.. ie: 150 max to form meaningful relationships with..

invite your firends to invite their friedn to join you and so on

inviting ness.. a killer to fittingness

this buying nothing paradigm shift has grown internationally and scaled quickly because it’s filling a deep need that’s been missing in our collective consciousness: the need to share, to connect, to conserve, and to strengthen our resilience thru community.. this ‘circular econ’ econ designed to eliminate waste and pollution while keeping material and items in use.. can regen and preserver our mor natural systems.. communities and wild lands and our climate.. together we can make a diff in the environ, the econ, our own bank accounts, our lives and the future well being of our families and neighborhoods..

good on you.. i do hope it works..

but i don’t think it’s deep enough.. to get to roots of healing

what we need most (even more than a design to eliminate waste/pollution): the energy of 8b alive people .. who.. then .. know what enough is..