The Future. Buy Nothing, the loosely-connected organization of groups all over the globe that put items up for free for their community, has built an app so users can stop using Facebook Groups for their activities. Adoption is slow but could be supercharged if Buy Nothing partnered with cities to create an official community organization around the idea of product reuse and neighborhood outreach.
The viral Buy Nothing movement has built a home of its own.
- Project co-founders Liesl Clark, Rebecca Rockefeller, and new partners Tunji Williams and Lucas Rix recently launched a proprietary Buy Nothing platform.
- The mobile app brings organizations to disparate Buy Nothing communities, providing moderation and tech support in one platform while avoiding the controversies of Facebook.
- The app gets rid of the geographic boundaries Facebook requires for each group. Instead, inclusion in a group is now based on a person’s current location — making groups “borderless.”
- Individual group moderators are now “community builders,” whose job is to “model best practices and facilitate activity.”
And to reward community builders for their hard work, the app allows them to put up a “gratitude jar” to accept donations — the platform itself also accepts donations to keep running (a la Wikipedia) since it’s entirely privately funded by the founders.
Buy Nothing’s surge in popularity is nothing short of astounding. Since its founding in 2013, the movement has counted 5 million people in 7,000 unique communities across 44 countries. And they all come together for a couple simple reasons: giving stuff away helps you find cool free stuff and helps you get to know your neighbors. In a world where digital communities are replacing real-world communities, that’s a breath of fresh air.
Still, Buy Nothing has a steep hill to climb to get people to ditch the entrenched ecosystem of Facebook Groups. The Buy Nothing app only had had 166,000 downloads since December… but Clark says the app’s user base is growing by 5% this week — in the meantime, users will probably have to post both in the app and on their respective Facebook Groups if they want to get rid of something.