As terrific as it is to buy from small local businesses, bartering is even more awesome. It allows one to bypass the money economy entirely. When I trade something I have a surplus of for something I need, I feel like sticking my tongue out and saying, “ha ha ha, mighty Tax Authorities, I fooled you! You won’t get any share of money from this exchange!” (Very mature, I know). Also:
1. Bartering fosters close community ties and allows one to meet awesome, like-minded people. It develops personal connections that may grow into real friendships.
2. Bartering is the very essence of the saying, “one man’s trash is another man’s treasure”. In season we may have so many fresh eggs, for example, that we literally don’t know what to do with them – but other people living right next to us are in need of those fresh organic gold protein nuggets. They, in their turn, might have something else we need (fresh veggies, artisan products, skills). If each side takes something they don’t want/need and trades it for something they do, everybody wins.
3. Bartering is creative and allows for much more interesting business-making than just stepping into a store and buying whatever you need.
Read more in my latest Mother Earth News post:
“While I’m not naïve enough to believe we can opt out of the money economy altogether – the modern world is too populous and complex for that – bartering can still work exceedingly well in small communities with close-knit personal relationships where people choose to earn less, spend less, and support each other rather than a large chain-store or a mega-farmer.”