Bartering Is Back

I like bartering. It is far superior than using money, because of the obvious fact that you don’t need any to make a transaction between two parties. You only need to come to a joint consensus regarding the perceived value of the goods you are bartering.

So far this month, I have swapped;
  • a big bag of spinach for a bag of Meyer lemons
  • a big bag of spinach for three bags of wood ash (great for the compost bins)
  • lots of home cooked meals for big hugs from the family, and
  • about 200ml of petrol for 6 bags of organic coconut growing medium.
Lemons for hot lemon drinks to keep the colds away (working so far), wood ash as a source of potassium and other nutrients for the compost, hugs because I love them, and organic coconut stuff for the compost bins and for growing seedlings in. The last two might not really count, but I do think it was in the spirit of the bartering theme.

Bartering was invented way before the invention of a hard currency, and probably pre-dates civilisation itself, so in my books it must be good. Even better still, if you can get something legally for free, with no strings attached (like my wombling), then that is superior to bartering. As we begin to live, work and buy locally, bartering may become the norm. In fact, it may be the only way that transactions take place amongst locals, with national currencies becoming worthless. I have been reading a bit about Transition Towns of late, and especially about the original Transition town of Totnes in the UK, who’s residents and retailers have even begun to use their own homegrown currency in the form of the Totnes Pound note. Have a read about the concept of Transition Towns, because I believe they make a lot of sense to aid in a soft landing during and after the ‘energy decent‘ that is nearly upon us. I would love to help our local town to this stage, but am afraid that they are just not ready yet. I have been thinking long and hard as to whether to put my name down as a contact for interested parties in my area, and will probably bite the bullet soon, because I think that this type of project would be the next logical set in “The Greening of Gavin”. What I mean by that, is that my initial project of living sustainably now needs to grow into something bigger than just our family, and outwards into the local community. I am finding more and more that my initial epiphany, and subsequent actions, have become larger than the original spark that exploded in my mind on that wonderful day in 2006. Transition Towns projects have been proven to be able to do just that with the assistance of willing community members.

Over the last few months, whenever I get a chance, I ask my visitors (politely of course) if they have anything cool to barter for my excess vegetables. Last season, we gave away quite a few cucumbers, tomatoes, and some herbs and asked nothing in return, and didn’t expect anything either. This year, I am trying to drive a community spirit amongst my friends with this barter idea and see what happens. If it makes only one of them think green, then that is a good thing.

Kim is very active on our local freecycle, not so much swapping stuff, but giving stuff that we don’t need to people in need of those goods. Freecycle is a bit like eBay without the auction, and without any payment. There are some simple rules to follow, and that is about it. You are solely in charge of who you give your items to. Usually we get about 5 or 6 requests for any offers we put up, and choose who we think it should go to. It is a great concept and keeps so much stuff out of landfill, where it would have otherwise ended up. I think we both have been freecycle members for about 2 months and have given away the following items in great condition;
  • a video recorder
  • a fish tank
  • a dressing gown
  • a child’s city scape play mat
Tomorrow, Kim is placing a wanted ad up on freecycle for some chicken wire for the chook house. You never know, I may get lucky.

I wouldn’t mind finding a fellow home brew enthusiast who lives locally, so that we could swap beer samples. That would be cool as well, as it would be nice to compare another style of brewing to my own. I still have quite a few preserves left in the cupboard, so what ever is left just before the next crop comes in, I will see if I can barter the excess for other home made or grown foodstuffs in return. Really, I am only after homegrown produce, because I believe a lot of love goes into growing your own food, and it makes the prize so much more special, and in my mind, more valuable.

So. there are many ways to get what you are after without cold hard cash, and without resorting to credit cards. Of course, before engaging in bartering or Freecycle, still think long and hard as to whether you really need the item you lust after. In that way, you are not swapping one form of excessive consumerism for another!

Happy bartering, wombling, or Freecycling!

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  1. says

    Im just trying to picture Gavin as a green womble, recycling and bartering his way through life..HMMM Sorry Gav ,I just keep seeing the green teletubby saying Ill be back cause Im the Gavinator !!!

    Now mate you know Im only joking, your a great bloke doing wonderful things … Keep up the good work will try find something cool to barter with for Thursday..

  2. says

    Legendary Australian Womble like creature.

    Often found fossicking in unwanted bundles of rubbish. Rumoured to yell “ Yippee” when somethin interesting has been found.

    Extracted from the Australian Wombat Dictionary, 2008 version 1

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