Los Angeles Times
In Costa Mesa, group reaps rewards beyond great gifts
A Facebook group called Buy Nothing Costa Mesa instantly grabbed Marian Wildman’s attention. She liked what she saw and decided to join.
Members of Buy Nothing carry out transactions — with no money exchanged — in the form of a post on the group’s Facebook page, where they can request and offer items to gift.
“After living in the same house in Costa Mesa for 52 years I’m trying to declutter,” Wildman said. “I’ve given away a lot of good things [through the Buy Nothing group] to people who really need them.”
Her giveaways have included a vintage American clock, mirrors, a juicer, stuffed animals, a range hood and a Shark electric floor mop that 65 people wanted, forcing her to hold a drawing to determine the winner.
Wildman explained that some of the more popular items offered for no charge on the site can attract as many as 100 people.
Wildman, who prefers giving to receiving, nevertheless found herself doing the requesting early in the pandemic, when grocery stores were cleaned out.
“I asked for Minute rice and got a notice from one member who had an extra box and was happy to bring it to me,” said Wildman, who is housebound. “Another time, I was looking for Pam cooking spray, and someone got in touch with me and offered to look for it. She went to two stores looking for it. When I told her, ‘I wish you hadn’t done that,’ she said, ‘I’m more than happy to do it.’ And that’s what this group is all about.”
Brooklynn Kendall and Brandice Strotman share administrative duties for the 2,824-member Buy Nothing Costa Mesa group, which launched in 2015 with 800 members.
“It’s a lot of work, with 15 to 20 requests a day to join, but worth it to see how the community is thriving,” said Kendall, who was recruited as an administrator in 2019 by the previous one.
The volunteer administrative job consists of making sure everyone follows the buy nothing, give freely rules established by the central hub of Buy Nothing Project, such as ensuring that there is no exchange of money and that the giving takes place in the community where the members live.
With 4 million community members, the project has become a worldwide network of gift economies in which real-life neighbors come together through sharing, with the common goal of creating a positive environmental effect.
Christine Bliss said she joined the group so she could give away her plants, many of which went to a woman who rode her bike whenever she came to pick them up.
“But when a coffee press popped up [as a giveaway on the site], I asked the giver, who happened to be the bike rider, if she could wait until my husband got home with the car, since mine was out of commission,” Bliss said. “She lives down the street and ended up riding her bike over with the press.”
Members don’t think twice about delivering items, even when it takes them out of town.
Elisa Piazza wanted a gifted electric hospital bed for her 81-year-old friend, who lived in a board-andcare home. But she would need help transporting it from Balboa Island to Mission Viejo.
Fellow member Tho Tran Trefz responded to Piazza’s post asking for help, writing, “I have a truck and I can help you with delivery.”
A group effort went into play, with a member offering the loan of a ramp for the heavy bed.
“I’m a believer that it comes back to you even if you don’t expect it,” Piazza said.