TAMPA, Fla. — Wouldn't it be nice this holiday season to spend no money on yourself or anyone else in your group? There is now an app for that.
The nonprofit Buy Nothing Project launched their first app for Apple and Android on Buy Nothing Day or Black Friday for the big spenders out there.
Since the nonprofit launched in 2013, they've grown to more than 4 million members — the pandemic fueling the most recent uptick.
"But when the lockdown started in March 2020, our membership grew by 2 million participants," Sherose Badruddin, a media volunteer for Buy Nothing Project, said. "In that time, we've been able to develop an app so that others may join who don't wish to stay on Facebook to participate."
Badruddin said she gifted a lot of her time and energy to help build her Facebook community. Volunteers run the nonprofit to save money, support their communities while reducing waste, reusing items, and recycling. But that doesn't mean Badruddin hasn't received some big-ticket items.
"I've gotten an elliptical, bookcases. I recently got a sofa, I told you, I just moved into a new place. But, we needed a place to sit. So I logged into my group, and someone was already giving away a sofa. And it's beautiful," Badruddin said. "Anyone with the app can ask for what they need and can share what they need. And they don't have to share that they're asking for something because they don't have the funds. They're just participating in a circular gift economy."
There are strict rules for anyone who participates in the project. It is a pure gift economy. No cash is exchanged, no trading, and no bartering. The project's focus is hyperlocal, to connect neighbors with neighbors. If no one operates a group in your area, you won't be allowed to join if your address doesn't fall within those boundaries.
When ABC Action News reporter Michael Paluska downloaded the app, he couldn't give or receive gifts because there wasn't a group in his area. But, we are told as more people transition from Facebook groups to the app, that will change.
People can gift anything. Food, clothes, toys, jewelry, cars, computers, tablets, whatever you are looking for.
"It keeps getting chances after chances instead of just going to the landfill. So that's what makes it so amazing. And then it saves money because then you don't have to go out and buy something new," Shaboah Peralta, a community builder, said.
Peralta was the first person to join the app in the Palm Coast area of Florida's East Coast.
"And, it's really cool. One time I was having an allergic reaction, and I asked for Benadryl on the group, and one of my neighbors zoomed it right over to me; that was nice. It's a community, you know, it brings back neighbors together, how we should be we get to know each other, we help each other where we do just about everything that you know how I used to be with neighbors."
"What does the platform give you?" Paluska asked.
"A smile, it fills my heart, knowing that other people are able to use something that normally would have went into the garbage in today's society. And, you can slim it down to hyperlocal. Or you can do just a surrounding area. Or you can even go stretch out even further, which I think is really neat. It's just a cool way to reduce, reuse, recycle and help out your fellow neighbors."