By Katie Fice
Larissa Deacon proudly uses superlatives when she describes Buy Nothing The Glebe and what it is doing.
“Our group is particularly incredible,” says Deacon, one of the group’s volunteer administrators, “as we have quite a few garbage heroines and heroes as we call them. We have many wonderful neighbours that walk around the neighbourhood, saving items that were put to the curb from ending up in a landfill.”
Along with Deacon, four other dedicated volunteers – Jessica Nichols, Andrea Szafran, Michael Aide and Leone Besner – run The Glebe Buy Nothing online community on Facebook with no funding. They all give their time to uphold the main rule of “give where you live.” They do this by ensuring members are residents of the area. We want to thank them for their efforts in managing this group that not only unites people in the community but also helps redirect useful goods to people who can use them.
Buy Nothing The Glebe is an extension of the Buy Nothing Project (BNP), which operates in 25 countries. The group in the Glebe was created in August 2019. It branched off from a larger Buy Nothing network consisting of the Glebe, Old Ottawa East and Old Ottawa South when it became too large to maintain the intended hyper-local focus. That focus is important because “it gives members a chance to not only help their neighbours but also the opportunity to get to know them,” Deacon explained.
Members of the group post things they want to give away or things they are looking for. There are posts for books, clothes, kitchen items, fresh herbs, houseplants, bicycles, toilets, anything you can imagine. Even gifts of time or talent are offered. All transactions are free; no money exchanges or bartering is allowed. The group builds community, and many members have become friends because of it.
The administrators say members are dedicated to ensuring their items receive a second life, and there are some items into their fifth life! This is fantastic from a zero-waste perspective as it keeps old goods in use. “Common items that circle around our group are puzzles and books. Our group loves puzzling, and many of them circulate in our group with names written on the inside of the box by the members who have completed them.”
Deacon shared a memorable story about a gift she was given by a Buy Nothing member – a floppy disc reader. “I was hoping to find a photo of me and my mum. It was important to me because my mum didn’t like her photo being taken and because she is no longer alive. I don’t have many photos of or with her. Thanks to the neighbour that gifted me that item, I was able to successfully retrieve an image of me and my mum in a warm embrace. That photo was tucked away in a disc for 19 years. Thanks to the generosity of this neighbour, I was given back this special moment with my mum which I will always cherish.”
The group can be found on Facebook for anyone in the Glebe who is interested in joining. Just type Buy Nothing The Glebe, Ottawa, ON into the “Search Facebook” box.
If you’ve been making efforts in reducing waste, we may feature you in a future column. Please send a short paragraph explaining how you are reducing your household or business waste to email@example.com, attention Katie.
Conscious of her own waste footprint, Katie Fice joined the GCA Zero Waste Committee (a subcommittee of the Environment Committee) to learn more about waste reduction and to help raise awareness of simple changes in our daily living that can have a big impact on the environment.