Friday, 2 November 2007

Local Exchange Trading Systems (LETS) - an alternative to money

Local Exchange Trading Systems (LETS) are community based systems of skills exchange that allow people to share skills and equipment outside the monetary economy. The sharing is done in a systematic way with members of the scheme earning credit for everything they share and then spending this credit on services or equipment they want in return. For example one person may bake a cake for someone and then use the credit to borrow someone's lawn mower for an afternoon. Although LETS systems allow exhange without money, it isn't really likely that they would replace money, rather they offer an alternative method of trading. Part of the idea behind them is to empower people on lower incomes to access services that they would otherwise find difficult to access, though people of all income levels get involved. We tried to set up a LETS scheme at our workplace a couple of years ago, but it didn't get off the ground because too few people were interested to make it viable. I'd be interested to hear if anyone has any experience of LETS.

Money for Sunday Scribblings

15 comments:

Catherine said...

There's a system here in Christchurch called Plains Exchange and Barter System, I haven't had personal experience of it though. It is quite a big organisation and they have market days where goods can be purchased in "Plains Dollars", as well as trading at other times - a wide range of skills as well as goods, for instance hair dressing, carpentry, etc

You could look at
http://www.lets-linkup.com/32-NewZealand.htm

tumblewords said...

The old bartering system - the time has come and still... A small group started such a system here and it didn't get off the ground. Not sure why. Perhaps lack of communication or the most recent 'sign of the times' which seems to be an underlying distrust of others. Hmmm. Interesting post!

PaulS said...

These types of systems have been tried here in Australia many times. There is quite a succesful one operating in Woodford. Most of the time however they have run out of gas because of the administative load of keeping track of debits and credits. Also the Tax Office now takes an interest as a result of GST (like your VAT, I think) and as soon as that happens the system becomes unworkable. Of course, an informal arrangement like this between neighbours and friends is an excellent source of community.

paisley said...

We tried to set up a LETS scheme at our workplace a couple of years ago,but it didn't get off the ground because too few people were interested to make it viable.

guess there was no "money in it...."

gautami tripathy said...

In rural India such bartering does exist. Although they don't have any name for it. I think it does work for some levels.

Jo said...

I think it's a great idea, but would be very hard to administer for reasons mentioned, which is a shame.

January said...

Sounds like a nice idea. Too bad it wouldn't work in the U.S.

Jennifer Hicks said...

this sounds ideal! my only experience has been with small bartering exchanges (mostly for services) with friends. Valuing goods and services is a tricky one, though!

Ice said...

Juliet,
I admire folks who can institue a barter system ans stick to it as well as they can. For the whole of mankind though, I thnk there is little hope. When I look over the history of humankind I don't believe I'm being cynical just a realist.
I applaud the little pockets of people interested in people and their planet too.
rel

Awareness said...

It's a wonderful idea.....one we have tried to incorporate through a youth summer employment program, but it didn't really fly.

It reminds me of the system that Muhammah Yunnus created and won the Nobel Prize for last year.

UL said...

Of course the barter system, worked well during the Indus Valley civilization, I dont see why it is not possible any more...I guess people dont have the old level of commitment they had in those days! Definitely worth reviving...thanks for sharing.

Crafty Green Poet said...

Catherine - thanks for the link - I'll check that out later.

Tumblewords, Paisley - I think it can be difficult to maintain the momentum, I certainly think that was part of the problem here.

Paul, Jo - yes of course the administrative burden too...

Gautami - that's interesting

January - it might in some places?

Jennifer - yes the valuing things hasbeen a difficult aspect too...

Rel - Yes I guess you are a realist...

Ul - why not indeed?

Awareness - sorry your attempt didn't work out

Gill said...

That is SO interesting. I am sure there is scope for this kind of thing, especially in the rural areas here.

jules said...

paul, there is now an online LETS admin/accounting system, have a look at http://thebegavalley.org.au/bvlets.html
and http://www.community-exchange.org/
where you will find info. on this,

cheers,
jules

Landau Calrisian said...

Hello, I'm not sure if you'll see this comment because it is way down at the bottom. I was googling around for LETS blogs, as yours came up to the top. I'm in the process of getting a LETS system started with the twist that it could be accessible anywhere through text messaging.

I'm trying to do this right, so will probably form a non-profit, etc. In either case, I wanted to gauge your interest, and see if you, or anyone reading this blog would like to volunteer some time to help me. There is much to do, and I think, unfortunately, the timing is right.

Have a good day,
Matthew Landau
mattlandau@yahoo.com
http://twitter.com/matthewlandau (preferred contact method)