Buy Nothing: Good Gifting

Imagine a world where communities are more resilient, sustainable, equitable, and joyful, because of a functional gifting economy. This is exactly what the Buy Nothing worldwide network aims to accomplish, through hyper-local economies. What does the network do? It connects neighbors to neighbors to facilitate gifting of unused items, and asking for items one might need. There is no trading, no money demanded, no favors, just plain giving to one another.


Our local group started when Sonja Gilliam and her husband moved to San Diego, from Germany, with their newborn. After a few months in furnished housing, they faced the financial burden of furnishing an entire house. Through a friend from the Rancho Bernardo Buy Nothing network, the family was gifted furniture and kitchen essentials. Most importantly, Sonja was hooked! She went on to create the Carmel Valley group, six years ago. At first, she had to recruit members through flyer distribution, but soon the social and sustainable features of this group attracted more and more neighbors. Because of its popularity, the group recently split into West CarmelValley/Del Mar (1,100 members) and East Carmel Valley (525 members).


Our Del Mar network connects via Facebook, with the specific name “Carmel Valley (West)/Del Mar, 92130, San Diego, CA.” Upon joining, neighbors can post, see giving offers and ISO requests (In Search Of). Michelle Piemonte, one of our 10 local administrator-volunteers, highlights the core value of the group as “Every gift has value, large or small.” 

A few examples:


  • In Search Of requests: cast iron pot, desks, suitcases, unused fabric, old magazines, shoe boxes, crutches. Maybe you have the specific item sitting at home and not using it. Here you go, now it can find a new home!
  • Give offers: baby clothing, toys, books, furniture, succulents, shoes, purses, tools, pashmina shawl, tutus, fresh garden fruit, gift wrap, even mistakenly bought grocery food!

It is fascinating to see the number of items, many brand new, that are traversing our small community, clearing space in one home, while fulfilling the need of the other. In this season of giving, let’s participate in reusing and sharing, while meeting our neighbors. 


Best wishes for a Happy Buy Nothing season!


PS: You might wonder what Sonja did with the furniture, plates, glasses, pots and pans she was gifted when she moved in? As her financial situation improved, she was able to buy items that matched her young family’s changing needs, and she regifted the excess to the group!

Sonja Gilliam, founder of our local Buy Nothing group, with orchids, books, toys, clothing, all gifted from Buy Nothing! Photo by D. Gilliam.