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For Free

Author: Lauren Wesp

A bookcase that I found at my neighbor’s curb on bulk garbage day

As the saying goes, “you can’t spend it twice.” And with high unemployment and severe economic insecurity resulting from the Covid-19 pandemic, many of us are especially needing to cut down on expenses. Fortunately, in Buffalo it’s possible to get many things for free. I’ve furnished much of my apartment with furniture and décor that didn’t cost me a cent. I’ve also freed up space and shared my resources with others by giving away things that I no longer need. I am just one of many people who are participating in the local moneyless economy.

Humans are one of the most social species of animals, and so we rely heavily on each other. By participating in the moneyless economy, we are given the opportunity to grow our sense of community by uniting to take care of one another. In sharing with each other, we also are provided with a space to connect and get to know our neighbors (while still practicing social distancing safety measures). After a year of so much physical separation with the pandemic, it seems clearer than ever just how much we need to feel connected.

Hiking shoes that I donated in a local Buy Nothing group

Besides taking care of each other, the moneyless economy is beneficial in caring for this planet that we call home. Every time we purchase something new, resources need to be taken from nature to construct the product, and waste is returned to nature once that item is discarded. So, the life of the product, both before and after its consumption, results in hidden environmental costs that we consumers don’t tend to see, but are nonetheless very real. We can take action, though, by being more conscious about what we choose to buy.

Participation in the moneyless economy also helps us as individuals to feel good in a bit of a surprising way. Research has shown that we actually enjoy being generous, so we feel better when we are able to help each other out. In other words, when we are able to give to others, we are also giving to ourselves. It’s also nice to be reminded of how much kindness and generosity can be found in people, which fosters a sense of goodwill.

So how does one participate in Buffalo’s moneyless economy? Here are some options:

  • Join a local facebook group organized by the Buy Nothing Project. In these social media groups, neighbors post things that they would like to give away as well as items that they would like to request. Gifts can include both material items and services. The groups are located in small neighborhoods, so if interested, please sign up for the group in the neighborhood in which you live. If there isn’t already a group in your neighborhood, then maybe consider taking the lead to start one. For more information, check out buynothingproject.org/find-a-group.
  • Attend a Really Really Free Market. These are popup markets where people can meet up at a certain location to form a marketplace of free items. You may attend to “shop” for items that are being gifted and/or to bring your own gifts to offer up. For more information, check out: facebook.com/groups/buffaloreallyreallyfreemarket.
  • Volunteer with, donate to, or get a homemade meal from Buffalo Food Not Bombs. Food Not Bombs is an all volunteer peace activist origination which shares free vegan meals with anyone who is hungry. Due to the pandemic, please check their facebook page for up to date information on where/when meals are being cooked and distributed. Also, once it’s safe for festivals to resume, you can always bring a donation of nonperishable vegan food to WNY VegFest for the annual food drive to benefit Buffalo Food Not Bombs. For more information, check out facebook.com/BuffaloFNB.
  • It’s really shocking what good things people will throw away, and so you can find some gems amongst the rubbish on the curbside. In particular, bulk garbage day is a really fruitful time to browse for free items along the curb. If you have items that you are looking to give away, however, please consider other methods of donating as much of the stuff put out at the curb ends up going to landfills. For a schedule of bulk garbage day, check out buffalony.gov/382/Streets-Sanitation.
  • Another option is to repurpose things you already own. Not only does this provide an opportunity to engage your creative side, but it also is a way to upscale your stuff for free. Having kitties, I know how finicky they can be, and so rather than waste money on a surface for them to sit on between my couch and the window, I simply modified a cardboard box for them to use. This was, of course, after they showed zero interest in using the comfy cat tree that I originally had by the window (and the cat tree was given away to another, hopefully less picky, cat).

Buffalo is known as the City of Good Neighbors, and we come by that nickname honestly. So it makes sense that there are so many people looking to share our gifts with each other. I’m curious to hear from Buffalo Rising readers in the comments, how do you personally share gifts and how have you received gifts from others?

Lead image: Photo by Luca Laurence

Written by BRo Guest Authors

BRo Guest Authors

It’s not unusual for authors to come and go. Guest authors range from collegiate interns to writers who will be contributing for a short stint of time. Guest authors might also have a series in mind. Authors are encouraged to submit their ideas to BRO (Buffalo Rising Online), upon which time we will work with the writer towards a productive end.

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