We recently came across a cool concept that made our thrifty sense tingle. Here's the deal: Imagine a world where you don't have to wait in line and bump shoulders with strangers or spend hundreds to get new items for your home. Where you could purchase products previously owned by people you've recently befriended or sell these same friends your stuff that you no longer need, all at no cost.

As of summer 2013, that world exists, thanks to the eco-friendly Buy Nothing Project.

Let's say you want a space heater to stave off the winter chill while you work in the basement. Someone in your area might just have one lying around. You can post on your local project's Facebook page that you're in the market for a space heater. The idea is simple: If you need it, ask for it.

The Buy Nothing Project takes free recycling platforms a few steps further by creating a network and giving members in participating areas the chance to collaborate and bring innovative ideas to their communities. Borrow, give, create, support. You can request or take just about anything you might need, from functioning heating and cooling equipment to home décor to clothing to pets (yes, pets).

In the past, members have "purchased" and "sold":

  • Fans and space heaters
  • Condiments
  • Jackets with missing zippers
  • Kitchen appliances
  • Classroom supplies
  • Energy Shield blinds
  • Slightly broken lawn mowers

There are plenty of other items that make life easier and more cost-effective. You can find decorations for your upcoming holiday or birthday party, rather than having to invest in something that you'll most likely only use once. A penny here, a penny there, right?

Another of the big selling points for Buy Nothing is its ability to be adapted to the needs of its community and the members who contribute. People who've joined the program often mention having seen other members around the neighborhood, at their children's schools, etc., but never struck up a conversation. Buy Nothing has led them to share ideas, discuss common interests, and, in the case of some, lend support in times of need.

So whether you're looking to save some money on gifts to put more toward monthly bills or you want to make valuable connections and have a positive effect on your community, you may find a solution with Buy Nothing. You can discover if there is a group active in your city or town or collaborate with others to start your own if the freedom wave has yet to hit that area.

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