Buy Nothing group encourages free giving in Murray Bridge
Meet Deborah Hunter Kells, the creator of a Facebook group which prompts people to gift, ask and express gratitude.
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Deborah Hunter Kells just wants to help people find what they need, make the most of what they’ve got, and make a few friends along the way.
Her tool for that has been social media – specifically, a Facebook group called Buy Nothing Murray Bridge.
Unlike buy-and-sell groups or websites, members of Buy Nothing are encouraged to:
Gift things they don’t want to people who need them
Ask for things they need
Express gratitude for the things they have received
Gifters can leave listings up for as long or short a time as they like; anyone who is interested can leave a comment, and gifters can give items to whoever they choose.
The idea is to build community, cut down on waste and save the environment.
“We come from a place of ‘not scarcity, but abundance’,” Ms Hunter Kells said.
“We’ve all got something, no matter what it is.
“It’s a bit different to just getting things for free – it’s also about gratitude.”
The Buy Nothing movement was started in 2013 by two friends living in Bainbridge Island, Washington, a city in the United States about the same size as Murray Bridge.
Rebecca Rockefeller and Liesl Clark had noticed how much rubbish was washing up on their local beach, and wondered what they could do to reduce wastage in the community.
Since then, according to the Buy Nothing Project, more than 5.3 million people have become involved in similar groups around the world.
Ms Hunter Kells heard about it from a cousin in Perth who was part of a similar group.
The philosophy struck a chord with her right away.
“I’m really into reduce, reuse, upcycling,” she said.
The first gift she received through the Murray Bridge group was a rocking chair, now her husband Terry’s favourite spot.
In the eight months since then, the group has swelled to include about 400 members, including some for whom poverty or anxiety would otherwise be barriers to getting hold of the things they need.
One member had put a call out for help after the tent he was living in was destroyed in a fire, Ms Hunter Kells said.
Another member had taken him on as a boarder, and givers had not hesitated to offer him replacements for the things he had lost – “now he’s got more clothes than before”.
Using social media to make people aware of opportunities to give and take is nothing new, of course – several street libraries and grow free carts have popped up around the Murraylands in recent years.
Organisations such as Teen Challenge, Vinnies, AC Care, the Salvation Army, Murray Bridge Community Centre and the Hub at Darling Avenue offer emergency relief in various forms.
Ms Hunter Kells hoped the Buy Nothing group could offer something extra.
“We don’t say ‘I want’,” she said.
“It’s not about wants and needs.
“You just ask and see if anyone has it.”
Join Buy Nothing Murray Bridge: www.facebook.com.
More information about the Buy Nothing project: buynothingproject.org.
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