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CBC News report: Trading and giving away unused items

Community initiative in Côte-St-Luc draws inspiration from Buy Nothing Project

Facebook group helps connect people who want to trade or give away items to others in the area

Laura Elfman Ilana Grostern

Laura Elfman, left, and Ilana Grostern are hoping to encourage residents of Côte-St-Luc to trade or give away unused items for free instead of buying new. (CBC)


A new initiative in Côte-St-Luc is hoping to encourage residents to turn to their community for what they need—instead of their wallets.

Buy Nothing Côte-St-Luc is a Facebook group launched last month by Ilana Grostern. So far it has almost 100 members.

The concept, inspired by the international Buy Nothing Project, challenges residents to avoid buying new items and try to barter or trade for it instead.

"It's about the spirit of giving and receiving," Grostern told CBC Montreal's Daybreak.

Grostern said she was inspired to make the group after watching a documentary on minimalism and realizing how much she "mindlessly consumed." A friend referred her to the Buy Nothing Project, and she felt driven to make a group for her community.

"A lot of people are just sitting on things they absolutely do not need and need to find a way to get rid of," Grostern said. "And people feel good, when they give something away just out of the kindness of their heart."

Choosing not to sell

Laura Elfman has her own Côte-St-Luc Facebook group, the Côte-St-Luc Mega Online Garage Sale, with almost 4,000 members.

However, she said she now prefers to use the Buy Nothing group, going so far as to help promote it on her own page.

"What's good about this group is that we're a community," said Elfman. "Hopefully they're asking for it for a reason," Elfman said. "If they need it, it's my pleasure to give it."

Fostering a community

Every application to join the group is vetted by Grostern, to make sure that the applicant does live within the boundaries of Côte-St-Luc.

"The entire purpose of the Buy Nothing group is to focus on building your local community, and connecting locals," she explained.

Right now, the group is primarily made up of parents, who are exchanging things like strollers and children's toys. Grostern said she hopes to see that expand as the group continues to grow.

"In the established groups that have been around for a lot longer, and there's a whole mix of people from the community," she said.

The group operates on an honour system, expecting that everyone who takes part is acting in good faith.

"[We] operate on the assumption that everybody's there with the best of intentions, and not there to take advantage of anybody else."


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