Pickup Communication

Please use the text and images below within your Buy Nothing gift economy. If you have trouble copying the text or images, do try our Google Doc: https://docs.google.com/document/d/139s5aaXK_P7PDp2dgKKR2BgIJROURKZ7zDfuxSys4oE/edit?usp=sharing

Prompt pickups

Image description: A glass sand timer with one side in blue/green glass and the other side clear. The majority of the sand is in the top bulb and it is funneling down to the bottom. The sand timer is sitting on a wooden chair with slats in the back that shows a window behind it
Image credit: © Liesl Clark

For a gift economy to remain sustainable, givers need to feel good about their giving, and receivers need to be gracious and prompt about pickup. If a receiver of your gift hasn’t shown up and it feels like it’s taken too long, feel free to give it to another willing receiver. Gifting is ephemeral, a moment that comes and goes, but if the gift never goes, we start to feel heavy about a stalled-out system.

Please know that it is not mean or disrespectful to set a specific time or date for pick-up, and to gift your item on to another person if it’s not fetched on schedule. Your post could even include something like “Must be picked up by Tuesday, or it will go to another home. I won’t have time to contact you about this in private, so if it’s still here, I’ll assume it’s ready to go home with someone else.”

We all have things come up, so it’s kind to allow people a second chance if the first pick-up falls through. But if you’re the giver, know that it’s perfectly OK to speak here about items not picked up. The transparency of our community can be harnessed to use public accountability as a motivating force, and to let the community know when there are people who are either always late to pick up, or perpetual no-shows.

Recipients, be realistic when you’re asking to be chosen for an item. Will you really be able to pick it up on time? If not, you might want to take a breath and remind yourself that in all this material bounty, you’re likely to find what you need another time, just by asking.


Pick ups #1

Still waiting…

A reminder and a suggestion on the topic of tardy pick-ups:

It is the receiver’s responsibility to pick up their item in a timely fashion.

If you’re the Giver, state your preference for pick-up timing. If you’re the Receiver, please follow through with your pickup arrangements.

If your day goes pear-shaped and you can not come until another day, make arrangements. Ask a friend to pick up or post a note asking if someone is in that area and can pick it up for you. This is a gift, to you, for free. The best respect two parties to a sharing transaction can show is to communicate clearly, early, and often.

That said, we all have those days where everything goes wrong, but there’s a simple solution: communicate! Sometimes that will be impossible to do right away, but as soon as it is: communicate!

If you just can’t get there that day to pick up, It’s OK! Just communicate that. And if you decide you don’t want or need that item after all, it’s OK, The giver didn’t want it either! Just communicate that. So go forth and give! And, pick up your stuff. Ask and you shall receive, and you /shall/ also pick it up. And communicate.

Image description – Girl looking wistfully out the window while lying down on her stomach, looking out toward the ocean.
Image credit – © Liesl Clark


Are you deeply involved in a project at the moment and you can’t get away to pick up a gift given to you? Or, have you had a change of plans?

We all understand that “things happen” in life. If you’re running late for a pick-up or drop off, or you’ve changed your mind about gifting an item, please take a moment to let your neighbor know. A quick note to your neighbor letting them know what’s happening will go a long way toward avoiding confusion and hard feelings!

Image description: A masculine person with brown skin and short black hair is working on a drawing of clouds in a blue sky. He is holding a brush with an orange handle and wearing two silver rings. In the background are Tibetan Buddhist thangkas in many colors. 
Image credit:© Liesl Clark

No car, no problem

No car? No problem! If you don’t have means to pick up an item you’d like to be considered for, please say so upfront – most people assume the person they’ve chosen will come to *them* for a pick up. It’s not cool to be chosen and then be like, “hey, and thanks for delivering!” Say what?

Image description: Front of an old rusted car, leaves covering it, sitting outside near a tree 
Image credit: Hands off my tags! Michael Gaida from Pixabay  

Lots of people wouldn’t mind delivering something as most of us are out and about daily, anyway, but they’d like the heads up before they choose you. Will this affect your chance of “winning”? Yeah, it might. It might not. But it’s better to be up front than to dump something unexpected in someone’s lap and put them in an awkward spot.

So, let’s remember to think about each other and not just ourselves. Don’t be afraid to be honest! You might be surprised how many people would help when they are asked to, not when it’s assumed they will.

Non-Contact Pickups

All About Non-Contact PickUps

It would be great if we all had the time to meet up in person to exchange items, shake hands, get to know one another, maybe even share a cup of tea. Unfortunately, that isn’t always possible.

We understand this and have a few helpful hints for coordinating non-contact pickups:


~ Set a date and approximate time for pickups.

~ Exchange contact info in case of an unexpected change of plans.


~ Let the recipient know where the item will be located and how they will find it.

~ If they have to go through a gate, let them know whether it’s ok to just walk right in or whether you have pets they need to worry about.

~ It’s great to have a bin by your door labeled ‘Buy Nothing” if you can. Inside that bin, label the items clearly with the recipient’s name.

~ Avoid any heartache or misunderstanding by keeping valuables or other items indoors or out of the way.

~ Leave the outside light on if you think your recipient will be coming after dark.

~ Make sure there is a clear path to your door or wherever you are leaving your item.

~ If you have a neighbor who watches your home, let them know that someone will be stopping by.

~ If you live in an apartment building with a doorman/woman, be sure to make all arrangements ahead of time with both the recipient and doorman/woman


~ Remember you are likely visiting someone’s home to pick up your item. Be aware of gates, lawns, flowerbeds, etc.

~ Arrive as scheduled, or reschedule if needed. Communication is KEY!

~ Take only what is labeled with your name, or is clearly the item intended for you. If you have any questions, contact the Giver or wait and come back later.

~ Once you have picked up the item, it’s always nice to add a comment to the original post thanking the Giver. This lets us all know that the item has been received.

Don’t forget to come back and post some Gratitude. We love those Gratitude Posts!

Image description – Two doors, a yellow door on the left with #31 on it and a green door on the right with #33. Both doors have metal knobs in the center and metal mail slots in at the bottom.
Image Credit:  Christian Stahl on Unsplash

Personal information

When it comes to sharing personal information and photos of yourself or your family members, as with all things shared here, we leave it to each member to decide what works for them and their family. Please only share the personal images and information that you’re comfortable sharing in this community of your real-life neighbors, knowing that no one on the app side can control what is done with images or information shared. We trust our adult participants to know what they’re comfortable with, and we trust everyone to respect our “You Participate At Your Own Risk” rule.

~ Rebecca Rockefeller

Co-Founder, The Buy Nothing Project

Image description: Four elementary aged children with pale skin and dark hair stand outside a chicken coop. One in front is holding a black chicken in her arms. They are all holding baskets of eggs and one has a sign that says Fresh Eggs. 
Photo: © Liesl Clark

Condition of Items

With this sort of community, honesty is important to keep the vibe positive. What does this mean? When you post an item to share, make sure that you note any flaws and be completely truthful about the item you are giving away. If it’s not something that you’d gift to a good friend, please think twice before posting. If you’ve had something in storage for a while, please remember to check the condition before gifting it. (“These clothes are a bit musty from storage, but I bet a good wash will have them good as new!”)

On the flip-side, before you request a gift that has been offered, be sure to ask all pertinent questions that might affect your use of the item. (“How old is this item? Why are you getting rid of it? Are there pets/smokers in the house?”)

But don’t worry – broken items don’t necessarily mean they have to go to the landfill. That broken mirror might make someone a great mosaic, and those old, ripped bed sheets might be the perfect gift for someone making a braided rug. New or old, whole or broken, all gifts are welcome here as long as the giver is honest about their condition.

Image description: Vintage rusted car, with a Parsons Fruit Stand sign on the side, sits in front of a mountain backdrop
Image credit: M. Maggs from Pixabay