June 22, 2024

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Buy Nothing Facebook Group for Gift Wrapping Supplies

When I first moved back to Boston, I came with what could fit in one big suitcase and a duffel bag. Though I’m not a collector of things — or at that point I wasn’t — I am by no means a minimalist, and I was looking for budget-friendly ways to fill in the gaps of the things I hadn’t brought with me. Enter: My local “Buy Nothing” Facebook group.

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I had never been a member of the popular state-wide groups, though in theory they fit perfectly into my personal philosophy of thrift shopping and being as sustainable as possible. But I hadn’t even known they existed until I saw them mentioned by a friend. 

Last year, I spent the holidays alone for the first time. It can be overwhelming to realize you will be flying solo during Thanksgiving, especially when the holiday itself revolves around eating with loved ones. Though being with family isn’t something that may be possible for everyone (especially in a pandemic), being alone doesn’t need to mean being lonely. In the hopes that I could gather some ideas on activities to keep my hands and mind busy, I logged into Facebook and wrote a post sharing a bit about myself in my Buy Nothing group. By that night, I had numerous comments from neighbors offering to drop off books and candles, or for me to pick up extra desserts and embroidery sets. One woman, a fellow reader, wrapped up her favorite books for me to open and enjoy. 

When Christmas rolled around, I returned to my group, but this time to ask after gift wrapping. I was on a tight budget and thought someone might have some extra wrapping paper or bows lying around that they weren’t planning on using, so I posted in my Buy Nothing group. Again, I was inundated with the kindness of strangers (including some familiar faces from the Thanksgiving holidays) offering leftover tissue, half a roll of paper, or extra bows that were gathering dust. It dawned on me as I wrapped my gifts that this wasn’t only a budget-friendly practice, but a sustainable one!

The holidays are an exciting time to practice getting Pinterest-worthy gifts under the tree, but wrapping supplies can add up surprisingly quickly, on top of the cost of the presents themselves. Not to mention what wrapping paper costs the environment: about 50,000 trees are cut down each year to make those festive rolls. Whether you’re looking for new patterns, nifty bows, or those cute little gift tags that inevitably get torn off right away, you can get crafty without buying new — and that’s both a gift and a best practice. And if you’re the one who’s bored of last year’s wrapping paper or you’re drowning in a sea of ribbon, why not post in your local Buy Nothing group to see if your supplies would like a new home?

Buy Nothing Groups offer support in all kinds of ways. I’ve seen people reach out looking for notary services, a pair of branch clippers for two hours to straighten the star on their tree, a book for book club, and freshly baked bread. Whether you’re spending the holidays alone, on a tight budget, or seeking sustainable alternatives to buying new, people in Buy Nothing groups tend to offer tangible support and kind words when you need it most. These community hubs aren’t just places for goods, but for helping hands and full hearts — it’s just a bonus that I know I won’t ever have to buy wrapping paper again!