Buy Nothing Ottawa

By Andrea Lie

Imagine a world where a perfect stranger gives you a new bicycle for your child because theirs has been outgrown. A community where a neighbour comes over to change your tire for you because they saw your desperate plea for help in your time of need. Perhaps your money didn't stretch as far as you'd hoped this month and you need a gift for a birthday party your child will be attending. To your surprise, someone has offered you an age-appropriate gift because their child received duplicates at their party. And all of these donations happened simply because you asked.


It may seem far-fetched. Nothing warms my heart more than seeing these types of exchanges happen every day as a result of the Buy Nothing Project. This is a world-wide project on a grand scal,e which filters right down to sections of our own communities. To understand the vision and reason behind the project you can learn more here.

There are regular and weekly initiatives for giving in the Barrhaven group, of which I'm a member. For example, every Wednesday you are invited to post your "wish". Your wish is something you need or want. It can be an item or it can be a service. It can be something as small as a can of food or as big as a tent. In fact, there is no limit to what you can ask for. If another member can fill your wish you arrange for collection. There are also "round robins," which circulate through your neighbourhood and can include bags of clothes you pick and choose from, jewellry you sift through or books that pass through hands of those who signed up. You take a few and give a few before passing the lot onto the next person.

I've had so many wishes that I have been able to fill, and needs of my own that have been filled. Our garage houses two bikes that were given to us. Almost our entire camping kitchen set was donated to us. I have passed on bags of children's clothes to fit a child for every season of the year. I have given appliances, bags, decorations, picture frames and loads of toys. I return to work in the Fall and have acquired some appropriate work clothes as a result of a round robin. I'm of the mindset: give and ye shall receive. However, it is made clear that you do not need to give to receive. 

Have something to give? Take a photo of it and post it in the group. Give it a bit of time for people to express interest then choose someone to give it to. You can pick someone at random or choose someone for a reason. It's your item - you choose how to give it away.

There are a number of Facebook groups in Ottawa which you are free to join depending on your address. If your area isn't represented yet, you are invited to start one and the website teaches you how

To date, here are the groups available in Ottawa you can request to join:

Kanata – Kanata North 
Kanata – Kanata South 
Nepean – Nepean East 
Nepean – Nepean West 
Orléans – Orléans East
Orléans – Orléans West
Ottawa – Alta Vista/Hunt Club
Ottawa – Barrhaven North 
Ottawa – Bells Corners 
Ottawa – Britannia/Westboro 
Ottawa – Ottawa (Downtown) 
Ottawa – Pineview/Blackburn 
Ottawa – Riverside South/Findlay Creek/Greely 
Ottawa – St Laurent West 
Ottawa – St Laurent East 
Ottawa – Stittsville 
Ottawa – Stonebridge 

I invite you to stop and imagine something for a minute. What if this project became mainstream? What if, in the future, this was the first place we went to acquire something we were in need of? Imagine the ripple effect this would have on the economy, in our personal finances and in our community. 

The "back-to-school" financial burden is approaching  - what if we were able to acquire what we need through this project and BUY NOTHING?