I know what you are about to say. If you want to get something (material things) you need money. But you’d be surprised what you can get by swapping and bartering goods and services. Have a look at this story and find out that there are also ways when you don’t need money to get what you want.
Soda for Vodka
Summer 1959, Moscow. During an official meeting, the head of the Soviet Union, Nikita Khrushchev, drinks a famous soda. Yes! A member of the meeting discreetly welcomes it.
The happy man is a representative of a famous American brand of drinks (it is an easy guess which company I am referring to…). That evening, he has one goal: to convince the Russians to sell the American soda in their huge country.
But he shouts victory too early. If Khrushchev likes that soda, we are still in the times of the “cold war”, they don’t really want to consume a product from capitalist America!
But a few years later, when the relationship between the two countries improves, that soda brand tries again. And this time the Russians also see an interest in them because they can sell vodka to the Americans.
The deal can only be done without using the currency. Russia rejects the dollars of the American capitalists and cannot bring out the rubles from their country.
Then we return to the oldest form of exchange: bartering. The Russians authorize Americans to sell their drink on their soil in exchange for selling vodka on American soil.
This exchange for vodka has continued for years, but in 1979 the US no longer wants to exchange sodas for vodka.
So they find an alternative. Instead of regulating trade in vodka, the Russians would pay with their old warships. The American company thus resells the old scrap metal to make a good profit.
Swapping and Bartering Goods and Services
Do you know that there are Local Exchange Trading Systems (LETS) where you can trade not only things but also services?
In times of crisis, it would be good to start applying new economic models, like the sharing economy, where individuals can hire out things like their cars, homes and time to others in a peer-to-peer modality.
We have exchanged our home for vacation for many years through a website called Home Based Holidays, on the Web you can find many more. No worries about your belongings: people you don’t know come to you place, but you go to theirs!
Once, at a flea market I bought a sweater made by a famous French stylist for only 2 euros. I was astonished and the lady told me: I don’t like it any longer, but you do!
Actually the principle is very simple: instead of buying things that we maybe use only once, or we get tired of very soon, like children with their toys, we could start exchanging them.
It will be a step towards a more sustainable economy, that will bring us some benefits like reducing negative environmental impacts by decreasing the amount of goods needed to be produced, and cutting down on industry pollution. It will also increase recycling items and grant access to people who can’t afford buying certain types of goods or use them only from time to time.
All this is also in the perspective of the degrowth theory, that will let us go towards strengthening our belonging to our local community.
By the way, I have been using that sweater since then!
What do you think about it? Have you ever exchanged items with your friends? Would you like to do it, like when you were a child and you exchanged stickers?