Lesson 1

The Buy Nothing Academy: A Self-Paced Online Course

Buy Nothing Project Mission Statement, Community Commitment & Community Agreement

Welcome, everyone, to our Buy Nothing Project Community Guide Online Course! 

We’re honored to have you join us here to learn more about how to build and also participate in a strong Buy Nothing gift economy.

This course is for anyone who would like to be a better gift economist, or participant in a sharing community, whether it’s online or in person. We’ve written this course as a means to provide you with background on what flourishing gift economies can look and feel like, and how you can help to build and sustain an equitable and inclusive gift economy in your community. We’ll provide you with tools to use, like posts you’re welcome to use in your giving communities, and ideas for sharing creatively, like in-person events, so you and your neighbors can weave even tighter connections with one another, all in celebration of sharing the abundance mindset that is possible in every community. If you’d like a summary of the course, and a brief How-to description, please visit our Online Course Outline

Our Buy Nothing Project Mission Statement:

We offer people a way to give and receive, share, lend, and express gratitude through a worldwide network of hyper-local gift economies in which the true wealth is the web of connections formed between people who are real-life neighbors. 


  • We believe hyper-local gift economies strengthen the social fabric of their communities, and ensure the health and vitality of each participant.
  • We come from a place of abundance ~ not scarcity.
  • We believe in abundance, we give, we ask, we share, we lend and we express gratitude.
  • We are a gift economy, not a charity. We see no difference between want and need, waste and treasure.
  • We measure wealth by the personal connections made and trust between people.
  • We value people and their stories and narratives above the ‘stuff.’
  • We are inclusive at our core.
  • We value honesty and integrity in all our interactions.
  • We view all gifts as equal; the human connection is the value.
  • We believe every community has the same wealth of generosity and abundance.  

The Community Agreement, written by the Buy Nothing Equity Team, is the guiding contract for all participants in a Buy Nothing Facebook group and we hope you click through to read it fully. (We are not reprinting the entire Agreement here for brevity’s sake.)

Buy Nothing Community Commitment: 

  • Participate at your own risk. You are responsible for all of your interactions online and in person, and must do your own research and make your own choices in order to keep yourself safe.
  • Keep Everything Legal. You must respect all laws and regulations in force everywhere you participate in the BuyNothing community. 
  • All people who are 18 years of age and older are welcome here. 
  • No hate speech, threats or harassment. No gifts that glorify hate groups or call upon others to join in active hate. We define hate speech as words or images that demean or dehumanize another person or group of people on the basis of race, ethnicity, gender, religion, age, disability, or any other similar historically marginalized metric.
  • Give freely, receive freely, and share freely. No selling, buying, renting, trading, bartering, or otherwise engaging in this-for-that interactions. No marketing or advertising. All gifts offered and requested must be freely-given without expectation of any reward or reimbursement. Remember that all gifts have the same value in Buy Nothing: Priceless.
  • Give, Ask, and Share without limit. You may offer as much as you’d like to give. You may request as much as you’d like to receive. You may not find homes for all of your gifts and you may not receive everything you ask for, but you are encouraged to offer and ask without limit on how much, how often, market value, etc. 
  • Build Trust. Be honest in your communication and strive to build trust through genuine interactions. 
  • Be accountable for yourself and your impact on the Buy Nothing community. You are always in charge of your own posts and can edit or remove things as you desire. You may block anyone you don’t want to connect with. 
  • Show your humanity. Remember that each person you meet here is a real person. None of us are perfect, sometimes we get things right and sometimes we get things wrong. Speak your truth without fear, listen with compassion, build the sort of community you want to live in, and allow people the time and space to learn better so they can do better. 
  • Be open to creativity. Experiment to find new ways and new gifts to give, request, and share. Find ways to use your Gives, Asks, Gratitude and Shares to build a more equitable, joyful, inclusive, sustainable, and compassionate community. 
  • Real Humans Only – Participate as yourself.  No bots, no spam, no accounts for fraudulent purposes, no troll accounts. 
  • Adhere to our Terms of Service and Privacy Policy

Activity 1

Go to your BuyNothing community, whether it’s in your BuyNothing app or in a Facebook group or other platform and introduce yourself! Examples of things to include are:

  • Your name and pronouns
  • How you heard about Buy Nothing
  • Why you’re here and want to participate in a gift economy
  • What you want to accomplish in your community

I’ll go first and introduce myself to you –

Hello! I’m Jennifer Lansdowne. My pronouns are she/her. I’m a native of Austin, TX. I discovered the Buy Nothing Project in Dec of 2014, although I can’t remember how. I created a Buy Nothing Facebook group when there wasn’t one for my area yet. I’ve volunteered with the Project ever since then and it’s become a huge facet of my life. I want to empower people to connect with their neighbors and use less new stuff.

Until the BuyNothing app is live in August of 2021 you can sign up for the waitlist at www.buynothingapp.com Check to see if your community is beta testing the app and join us.

Please go to Lesson 2.

© 2021 Liesl Clark, Rebecca Rockefeller, and Jennifer Lansdowne on behalf of the Buy Nothing Project. All Rights Reserved.

5 thoughts

  1. OMGEE I’m so excited to have found this group!
    This is exactly the way I’ve wanted to live and exist (as a real close community of compassionate and sharing people) for decades. I’m going to start a group in my area, as the closest group to this area is over 2 1/2 hours away from here and this area is in serious need. I don’t need for anything, but I am happy to stop buying anything and share my stuff with others. It’s better than wasting. And I love people 😁

  2. Hello, My name is Tracy Robertson and I started a Riverside Exchange yahoo group for Riverside Illinois membersover 10 years ago. Now its a google group with over 900 members. It a place for recommendation and to buy sell or give away items. . I care about volunteering and giving back to my community and people around me. I would love to start a BuyNothing group near me. I love the idea starting it on the APP not using social media or google groups. I believe in the mission and want to empower my neighbors to connect and help each other and buy less stuff

  3. Hi Tracy! Welcome to Buy Nothing. We would love for you to start building your Buy Nothing community in the app and we’re here to help you do so. In the upcoming days, we’ll be building out a “Community Builders” page on this website for anyone to start building their local gift economy, no matter what platform they use. But, we’re particularly interested in finding motivated people who would like to join us in building community in the app. You can download it now and start on your journey! Simply start posting in the app your gives, your asks, and your gratitude. Also, you can let your community members know that the app is ready for them to participate in, too! We’re launching to Community Builders first to help them start the steps to get their gift economies going, and then we’ll make our announcement about the Global Launch of the app to the rest of the world. And, if you have any questions as you start building and spreading the word, please don’t hesitate to reach out to us at thebuynothingproject@gmail.com!

  4. Hello,
    my name is Peggy Lee Caress Soublet. And as I have volunteered in my community, I would like to start a group as well for my Area. I love volunteering and giving back to my community!
    This is an awesome idea!
    I would love to start a BuyNothing group near me. I love the APP and it’s a good idea to start a Facebook group as well to help get the word out. I can also let potential members know about this via my other social media if allowed. I agree with the mission statement and want to empower my neighbors to connect and help each other as well.

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