On a Jersey path to zero waste – the gift economy

HAndmade fabric sign for Jersey in Transition
Handmade fabric sign for Jersey in Transition

Have your heard of the Gift Economy?  This is an exchange model where gifts are not traded, or sold, but rather given away or received but without expectation of any type of reward in return, moneytary or otherwise.  In Jersey we have a huge gift economy which is heart warming to see – a real community spirit.

A white gazebo under which are two table laden with books, toys, clothes and bric-a-brac
Jersey in Transition Gifting table.

Take for instance the Jersey in Transition gifting table.  Throughout each month some of the JiT members collect items which have been gifted by others in the community, and then on the last Saturday of every month we set up a stall in the centre of town.  We are either at Broad Street (beside the fountain) or King Street (beside Hammonds).  Shoppers are then free to come and browse the stall, and take away and make use of anything there.  Free.  When my friend Coleen first started up the initiative, people couldn’t understand why it was free and being giving away, couldn’t they make a donation?  But money doesn’t have to come in to it.  It’s okay to receive a gift with no expectation of a return transaction.  It’s a very popular venue now, with people bringing and taking gifts throughout the day.  Have a look at the Facebook page if you’d like more information.

A bright yellow logo with green writing , advertigish the ecycle Jersey CI facebook page
Ecycle Jersey CI Facebook page logo

One of the huge gift economies which I regularly use are the free recycling groups on Facebook.  Individuals post items that they have to gift, and others accept the offer of the gift and arrange to collect, or alternatively if you are looking for something specifically you can ask – and if anyone can help, they can comment and then you arrange to meet and gift.  I often use this – for gifts and wants.

Ecycle Jersey CI (free and wanted items) – the largest group by far with over 11,500 members

Ecycle free items – Jersey C.I. – nearly 2.000 members

ecycle free jersey – over 2,000 members

Jersey Reduce! Reuse! Recycle! – nearly 1,400 members

An abandoned, falling down roll of fencing materail
Chestnut fencing

Incidentally I am currently looking for a small amount of chestnut fencing for a garden project if anyone has any to gift?  I need about ten meters in length.  I’m using gifting in lots of ways at the minute, as I try not to buy anything new this year.

Two goldfinches sitting on a sunflower seed feeder
Goldfinches feeding on sunflower seeds in my garden

The reality of the gift economy is that whilst there is no expectation of return, returns do happen naturally.  Take for instance a few things that have happened over the last 2 weeks.  The lovely Donna Nicolas offered a sack of bird seed and fat balls that she could no longer use in her town garden as it was enticing rats and magpies (on facebook group Ecycle Jersey CI) which I duly collected (with a small bar of chocolate to say thank you).  I then gifted some of the seeds and fat balls on to my friend John Garner as he had also commented on the post.  When I dropped these off, not only did I get the gift of time with a gardening friend, I was also gifted some heritage tomato seeds in return, some of which I will then gift on further in seed format, or grow into tomato plants and gift on from there.  My mum says ‘what goes around, comes around’ and I quite believe it.

A young warn sits at a table and is busy sticking stickers into a book, with a huge smile on her face
Gifted stickers for my happy niece

Another example is that I have my niece here on holiday for a week.  Louise loves stickers, anything sticky in fact. (For her 21st birthday a family friend bought her a box of masking tape and it was the best gift ever!). Normally when Louise comes over I would go to the pound shop and stock up on stickers for her, but in the vein of trying not to buy anything new I asked around first.  My friend Coleen Carpenter came up trumps and sourced a stack of stickers to gift to Louise.  As you can see she is very happy and thankful.

Three pairs of folded jeans, each with a large tear just below the bottom.
The evidence in undeniable.

The last example is as a result of the size of my bottom. The evidence is undeniable.  I’m an outdoorsy sort-of-a-person, usually found walking daily or working in the home garden or field.  I live in jeans, but unfortunately don’t seem to stay contained in them for long – with excess wear and tear I am always bursting out of them, at the bottom!  Last weekend I visited Durrell second-hand shop for the first time, leaving with 2 pairs of jeans at two pounds a piece (bargain).  Meaning that I bought something, but not something new!  I still hadn’t decided what to do with the indecent jeans when a request came up on the Ecycel Jersey CI facebook page for old denim.  The industrious Sara Griffin plans to make a bolster for her garden bench if she can muster enough material – so get in touch with her if you can also help – she’s is coming to collect mine tomorrow.  Something no longer fit for purpose has been saved from the fiery furnace and will be upcycled into another usable item – huge win!

Four boxes of end-of-roll. Blind material in various patterns and colours.
Boxes of gifted blinds material

During the week I received a phone call from a friend, Mark, who noticed that Channel Blind Company were throwing out a huge bundle of end-of-rolls blind fabric.  He spoke with them and they kindly agreed to gift them rather than waste them, so after work my hubby and I went to scoop them – all 4 boxes.  So our progress at de-cluttereing the garage has now been replaced with more clutter! But all in a good cause. I’ve asked around and my friend Cathy is going to take some to make placemats for her next foraging meal, another friend Maureen is taking some for the Pins and Needles crafting group, another friend who owns a children’s nursery will take some for crafting with the little ones, another friend who makes cards and so on.  If you think you could use some for a crafting project please get in touch with me.

Two photographs, one with a table piled high with junk, the other with the table cleared
Before and after – stage one of the declutter

On the home front we are (were) making progress at decluttering the studio.  We returned things we have borrowed, recycled things we no longer have use of to the Acorn re-use centre, and gifted on some others – we managed to find our work-bench!

A stall piled high with boxes and boxes of fresh fruit and veg
Molly’s fruit and veg stall in the Central Market

I have continued to re-acquaint myself with the Jersey Central Market, this time by shopping for fruit and veg at Mollys – all zero waste.  I love it when I go to shop somewhere, and they don’t look at me strangely or try and stuff my produce into a plastic bag – and even when I handed over handfuls of mushrooms they just weighed them and gave me them back again in the same way – no issues.

This week our household waste was 2.2kg (12.6kg year to date), and over the next week I am investigating recyclable and/or ecological, zero-waste cleaning options.

Have a great week!

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  1. This is such a great idea I am joining in enthusiastically but it will probably be some time before I have enough glass jars to store things instead of plastic. I will in future only be shopping for fruit and veg that is not prepacked. No more plastic no more waste!

    1. Well done Yvonne! I’m still using the plastic I have, but won’t replace with plastic when they wear out. I’m collecting glass jar – did you know you can even use them for freezing things? Not buying packaged fruit and veg has been the easiest step so far – so much harder when it comes to meat, milk and toiletries!

  2. Good on you need to clear out myself but hubby won’t part with anything, we haven’t had to buy a nail or screw for years and he is always making something with wood, handy man.

    1. I’ve always been like that up until now – but feeling overwhelmed by the sheer volume of stuff – so have to do something! Hoping I can take back from the gift economy in the future when I need that very thing I’ve gifted away!