Awareness & Accessibility

Each of these posts were offered by a number of Buy Nothing volunteers. You’re welcome to use them if they’re helpful. We’ve also created a Google Doc with the same words and images so you can copy and paste the text and copy the images, too. https://docs.google.com/document/d/1ioYzir3oGlJLTQy8ehHJNA3kjyA5dp-zD-FakmYIQPw/edit?usp=sharing

(language)

Communicate clearly

The Buy Nothing Project is inclusive at its core. All people are welcome in their local Buy Nothing community. We ask that you explain what you’re offering or requesting in the words of your choosing, in a way that is easy for you. 

It’s fine to use a lot of whole words to tell a story about your offer or request, and it’s fine to use abbreviations or acronyms, or to use any combination of words and images that you’d like.  

Some things to keep in mind when writing a post include: Some of the people in your community may not have the same first-language.  Some people might be of different generations and may not understand certain slang or abbreviations. Some of the people in your community may process language differently. Some people may be rushed for time and just need to be brief to find a new home for their item.  

If you have questions about a post because you are unsure of something, please ask and work towards a shared understanding. Google translate is a helpful resource, even if it isn’t perfect. 


Image description: Young brown boy with cropped black hair and older brown woman with short white hair smiling at each other with a laptop open in front of them. Behind them is an open porch built of wood with a metal roof.

Image credit: Sasin Tipchai from Pixabay

(General Accessibility)

Buy Nothing Accessibility

Do you think about different accessibility barriers when you’re posting? If yes, what are the things that you take into consideration? If not, take a minute to think about practices that might create barriers. Let’s crowdsource the things we all can make a habit of doing to allow ALL of our neighbors to participate in ways that they feel comfortable. 

Physical accessibility

  • Is your home physically accessible to people with limited mobility?
  • Is your home easy to get to on a bus line, to bike to, or other non car transportation?
  • Are you listing information about your general location so that people can decide if they live close enough to you?
  • Are you able to drop off items for people who may have difficulty getting to your home? 

Safety

  • If you are doing contactless pick up, have you left your gifts in an easy place for people to find them? 
  • Are your neighbors aware that people will be picking up things from your home? Are they likely to be keeping an eye out and challenge anyone collecting items from your place?

Visual

  • Are you describing your items with enough words to allow people with low vision or blindness to know what you’re offering?
  • Are items left out for your recipients clearly labeled?

Scent/Allergens

  • Do you use scented laundry detergent which could affect people with sensitivities who might be receiving clothes or bedding that you’re offering?
  • Do you use a lot of scented products in your home which could linger on any items you’re giving?
  • Do you have cats, dogs, or other animals whose fur and dander may get on items you’re giving?
  • Is there smoking of any kind in your home that would linger on items?

Language

  • Are you comfortable communicating with people whose first language may not be English? 
  • Are you willing to ask questions when things are unclear or use Google translate if neighbors are more comfortable communicating in a language you don’t speak?

Gender

  • Are you making assumptions about the specific gender that you think “should” use the items you’re giving away?

What practices related to accessibility do YOU appreciate?

Image description: Three translucent hearts made of out thin cuttings of wood hung with wire in front of a blurred tan and green background
Image credit: Ben Kerckx from Pixabay 

(Visual Accessibility)

When you post a photo, please consider including a visual description of the photo as well. This will help neighbors who are blind or have low vision to share in the photo. It can also make word searches easier. If you’re not sure exactly what to write, try just describing as you would describe something to a friend you were talking on the phone with.

And a reminder, using specific physical descriptions as opposed to gender specific assumptions show inclusivity for all our neighbors. For example saying, “This child’s bike is white and pink with pink handlebar streamers and the words My Little Pony on the frame,” rather than saying, “Gifting one girl’s white and pink My Little Pony bike.”

If you’re looking for more information about writing visual descriptions, check out this article – https://www.perkinselearning.org/technology/blog/how-write-alt-text-and-image-descriptions-visually-impaired

Thanks for helping to make this community accessible for all!

Image description – A light skinned child with dark hair holds a kaleidoscope to his eye with both hands. The outside of the kaleidoscope is decorated in kaleidoscope patterns of green, blue, red, yellow and white. The background is blurred but it appears to be outside with colors of yellow and black in the top half of the picture and green on the bottom half. 
Image credit – Luisella Planeta Leoni from Pixabay 

Allergens 

(this post was written by Buy Nothing volunteers who live with various allergies and sensitivities. These are their personal recommendations based on lived experience, about ways in which sharing would be safer for people)

Would you give an item to someone if you knew it was going to make them sick? 

NO! Of course not. And yet for people with allergies, an encounter with their allergen can range in effect from discomfort to death.

One way to reduce barriers to giving and receiving gifts is to share information about the environment you live in, the materials that make up the gift, the products you use at home or the animals you have. 

Here are some things to consider sharing when you post your items as gifts:

  • Do you have any pets at home? What kind?  (There is no such thing as a universally hypoallergenic animal.)
  • Do you interact frequently with other people’s pets whose fur could transfer to clothing or fabrics you might gift?
  • Do you use scented laundry detergent? 
  • Do you use dryer sheets?
  • Do you use other scented products like air fresheners, incense, perfume, cologne, body spray, essential oils, lotions, soap or cleaners?
  • Do you interact frequently with other people who use these products that could transfer to anything you might gift?
  • Is there smoke of any kind in your house? 
  • Does your home have mold or mildew? 
  • What kinds of products have you used to clean an item that you’re gifting? How long have you been cleaning the item with it? 
  • What kinds of materials is the gift made of? Latex, particle board, plywood, urethanes, adhesives, paints, plastics and other materials may be a problem.
  • Is your gift a homemade food or personal care product? What ingredients are in it? Did you prepare the item around or near something that could be a known allergen, such as dairy, eggs, nuts, shellfish, soy, wheat or mushrooms? 

How You Can Help:

  • Full Disclosure using the questions above.  The more information you can give, the better.
  • Be very specific about the products you use. Cite the brand name and the special formula. (ex. Tide Powder with Bleach, Tide Free & Gentle Liquid, Tide PurClean, etc.)
  • For all consumer products, include photos of the product labels showing the ingredient list.
  • Be open to ways of handing off the item in a way that respects the recipient’s health, safety and dignity.
  • Don’t be offended if the person cannot accept your gift

 
Let’s make the receiving of gifts as accessible as possible for those with allergies.

And if you’re interested in learning more, check out Stink!, https://stinkmovie.com/

Image description – Three bottles of perfume stand on a wooden background. The liquid is in colors of orange, clear, and light blue. There are white and pink flowers placed in front of the bottles.
Image credit – monicore from Pixabay 

Language #1

Language is a way we communicate and it also encompasses culture. When we’re mostly communicating in English there may be parts of our culture that don’t translate through a translation app. Thanks for your understanding and patience with those who may be using English to communicate, even if it is not their native tongue.

When posting in our local gift economy, what can we do to make everyone feel comfortable posting in a language that is comfortable to them? 

Image description – The word “welcome” translated into many languages and written in the colors of green, red, black, yellow, blue and purple. 
Image credit – Tumisu from Pixabay 

Language #2

Let’s celebrate the language and cultures that are present in our community. Do you speak multiple languages? Share a greeting to everyone here and let’s see how many languages our community speaks! 

Translated versions of the rules are available in 35+ languages on the website in the Fine Print section. Do we have that many languages in this community?
https://bnponfb.org/the-fine-print-2/

Image description – “Hello” translated into many different languages arranged in a geometric formation in colors of red, purple, blue, orange, and green
Image credit – Mary Pahlke from Pixabay 


Language #3

The Buy Nothing Project wants to reduce the barrier that language differences create in gift economies by providing resources in as many languages as are needed. We have resources available in 35+ languages on the website in the Fine Print section
https://bnponfb.org/the-fine-print-2/

As a volunteer run organization, we appreciate anyone willing to help translate. If you are interested in helping translate please join us by checking out the Language & Accessibility Team.

Image description – The word “welcome” translated into many different languages which are all arranged in the shape of a heart. The words are white and gray printed against a black chalkboard background with white curlicues serving as a border in the corners. 

Image credit – Oberholster Venita from Pixabay 

Gender Inclusivity

Being inclusive of all neighbors means rethinking ways that we may use genders to describe items, what words we use when sharing items for parents to be, or in general shout outs to the group. Here are some examples.

Clothes

  • Clothes don’t have a gender. Society often assigns one to them. We can just treat clothes as clothes.
  • Describe the clothes without referencing gender, “This is a long wraparound skirt made out of silk with a paisley print in white, purple and brown.”
  • Current sizing is developed by the clothing industry and is based on a man/woman genders only. Use a qualifier, “this is a standard ‘women’s’ size 8” to help people understand in general what size something is.

Children’s Items

  • Items for children are often made and marketed specifically to targeted gender stereotypes. We don’t have to follow that trend.
  • Describe the item without referencing gender, “This is a black and red bike with pictures of Spiderman. It was used by my 6 year old for size reference.”

Parents to Be

  • Using moms and dads leaves out nonbinary members who might not use either of those terms. Try using “parents to be” instead when giving items related to new babies and their parents

General Shout Outs

  • Instead of using “Ladies and Gentlemen” or “Boys and Girls” try using inclusive terms like “Hello Neighbors” or “Everyone”

Have other gender inclusive terms or ways we can help go behind binary genders?

Share them in the comments.If you’re looking for more information, check out https://lifeoutsidethebinary.com/



Image description – A white child’s hands are outstretched towards the camera and painted in a rainbow. Child is wearing a blue shirt and gray pants and stands in front of a red door.
Image credit – Sharon McCutcheon from Pixabay


Physical accessibility

Getting around can be more difficult for some of us than others. If you are able bodied you may forget to consider whether a person with limited mobility would be able to pick up an item for you, based on whether your home has stairs or not.

For neighbors without a car and/or relying on public transportation or rides there may be a lot of  planning that would need to happen before being able to pick up an item. Consider listing the general area of your home or giving the nearest major cross streets to allow neighbors without cars to know how easy it would be to reach you.

Giving specifics of your pick up location could remove the barrier to a neighbor that would otherwise have to ask for that information before expressing interest. Things to consider include:

  • Is there a ramp or driveway to your home that a wheelchair could use or is the curb restricting access?
  • Are there stairs, either a single step to a porch or 3 flights to an apartment/condo?
  • Are you close to a bus line or other form of public transportation?
  • How far is it from a spot to park to your front door?
  • Are there any gates with codes that will need to be gone through to get to you?

And if you are able to drop off items, if needed,  including that information in your post would go one step further to making it easy to receive for everyone.


Image description – A white feminine person with pink hair and a pink shirt sits in a red and black electric wheelchair. She attempts to bend her head down and to the side to fit under a wooden barrier blocking a dirt trail in a park. The basket on the front of her wheelchair is full of items. 
Image credit – makeitsomarketing from Pixabay 

Safety concerns around pickup

Picking up items from a stranger’s home, especially if the gifter is not physically present, can feel unsafe for some neighbors. There are things we can do to help people feel safer picking up, lowering that barrier. This sample list of practices is not exhaustive by any means.

Things to consider about your gift:

  • Clearly label the items or bag of items with the recipient’s name
  • Take a picture of where the item(s) are sitting and send that along with your message, to make it easier to find and also to provide proof, if needed, that those items are for them
  • Consider whether you are packaging something up in a box to look like a mailed package. 

General things to consider about picking gifts up: 

  • Many people are not universally safe in every neighborhood, due to societal factors that make things more dangerous for Black, Indigenous and people of color, women, LGBTQ+ people, and others who have been targets of hatred and harassment. If you feel unsafe about picking up gifts, please let your community know. There’s a good chance someone will be able to deliver a gift to you or find other ways to insure your safety and full participation. If you’re offering a gift, you can ask the recipient if they have any concerns like these that you might be able to work around. 

Things to consider about your home:

  • Mark your home in some way to show you’re a Buy Nothing home and maybe even an explanation about what that means (which also spreads the word about us)
  • Help make sure your home is clearly labeled with a number and/or send a picture of your home so that the recipient can find it easily
  • Keep outside lights on if pickups will happen at night or limit to daytime pickups only
  • If there is a locked gate to your home, give the recipient the code OR
  • If you have a fence or other barrier to enter your home area, consider placing it outside that fence right before the recipient picks up

Things to consider about neighbors during pick up

  • If someone besides you will be picking up, like a partner or friend, let the recipient know that
  • Let your neighbors know that you are a Buy Nothing home and people will be coming over to pick items
  • Stay in communication with the gifter in terms of when you are coming, and let them know when you have picked the item up 
  • If you are white, offer to pick up items for any BIPOC neighbors who feel unsafe doing so themselves, or offer to accompany them to pickups


If there is something here that you’ve never considered and it applies to you, please consider noting it for future pickups. If you have suggestions for what to add to the list please suggest them in the comments.

Having the message from the gifter up on your phone, hopefully along with a picture of the item, is a good practice as well. If you ever show up to pick up a gift and it feels unsafe, stop and abort. If you’re a gifter consider including an offer to drop off for anyone who feels unsafe picking up. Thanks to everyone here for helping to promote safe interactions with our neighbors.

Image description – Buy Nothing Practice Here written on a white piece of paper. The word Buy is painted in rainbow watercolors. The word Nothing is painted around in rainbow waters, leaving the letters white. Practiced Here is written in black sharpie.
Image credit – Jennifer Lansdowne