One man’s trash is another man’s treasure; the Buy Nothing Project in Charlotte County

ST. STEPHEN – “One man’s trash is another man’s treasure,” is the adage Lauren Knapton, who recently moved to St. Stephen from Ontario, likes to live by.

“Often, people assume something is junk because they don’t see any value when someone else might, in turn saving more items from the landfill,” says Knapton.

It’s an ethos Knapton feels so strongly about she started the Buy Nothing Project – St. Stephen/Charlotte County New Brunswick group on Facebook.

“The group is part of the buy nothing project; it is the website,” says Knapton.

“It is used by many communities around the world successfully. I noticed there wasn’t one for the area and that there wasn’t a very active free group for the area.

“I heavily believe in the term waste not, want not.”

“We exist for the sole purpose of building community,” states the Buy Nothing Project website.

“The Buy Nothing Project was founded in 2013 with the mission to build community by connecting people through hyper-local gifting, and reducing our impact on the environment,” the website goes on to say. “Our mission has not changed. In fact, we’ve doubled down by investing in our own platform that will allow us (collectively) to realize this mission to its fullest.”

And the Charlotte County community bought in. With some 1,300 members and quickly growing says Knapton, a quick search of the Facebook page shows members offering everything from kitchen ware to appliances, children’s clothing, and fresh eggs for free to anyone to who can use them. In most cases, the items are spoken for quickly.

“I’m from Ontario and we have a very active free community group in which I’ve grown to love and rely on for re-homing items and using it to acquire small or basic items instead of running out to purchase new,” says Knapton.

“I feel as a society we are far too quick to just ‘go buy new’ or ‘pick-one-up’ at the store, often at the expense of our wallet and planet,” she adds.

Knapton says the core purpose of the group was to “connect people with items and vice versa” all while “growing a sense of community and neighbourly love.

“Over the past few years many people have had their lives changed dramatically,” says Knapton.

“People have been cooped-up at home cleaning and reorganizing, and found they have an excess amount of stuff that others can be using.

“Others have suffered financially, and it’s a blessing for them to receive a bag of clothes for their kids, or a new frying pan that’s been in the back of a cupboard,” she adds.

Knapton says for some people, popping to a neighbours to pick-up a “new-to-them” item leads to a friendly chat and gets them out of house, which is the real success of the program.

“Others,” she says, “find joy in seeing their unwanted items have a new lease on life.”

Knapton says the group, which has been in operation for four short months, is constantly growing in numbers, and March saw over 350 posts by those looking to give good items a new home.

“I see people engaging with their neighbours, helping each other out, saving items from the landfill etc.,” she says.

As for the future of the group, Knapton hopes to continue the growth she’s seen so far.

“I would like it to be the go-to place when you are looking to furnish your first kitchen or to post items to when you have finished cleaning out the kids toy room.

“I would like to see it be the norm to do things like collect toilet paper rolls to offer for crafts, or offer up your broken washer for someone to fix,” she says.

But in the end, for Knapton, it all comes back to being about community and engagement.

“The best part of the group is meeting some great new people and learning about the community. It has been an ongoing pet project of mine and I’m excited to see the progress it has made in such a short amount of time.”