“B” is for Beg, Borrow and Barter

September 2, 2007 at 7:22 pm 1 comment


One way of reducing our consumption of resources, save money and build community is to get the word out about what you need and then borrow or barter for it. In our consumerist society this is so often forgotten. We all need to beg, borrow and barter for things more often.

Bartering in Action
Through various work connections we bartered computer services for a new computer. Great! Wounderful! Our old computer was running out of hard drive space and a little too slow for our needs. The new machine is efficient, fast and has more space than the old one.

At the same time our neighbours had put the word out that their computer had died and they were in need of a new one. Well we moved hard drives around and used our old computer box to build our neighbours a new to them computer. The same neighbours are in the middle of a bathroom renovation and have an old bathroom cabinet they no longer need. You guessed it…we are in need of a cabinet in our bathroom. So they now have our old computer happily humming away at their house and we have a newly installed bathroom cabinet. Bartering really does work!

Borrowing in Action
As I’ve mentioned before we live in a cohousing community where sharing resources is a central theme. If I need to trim the plants in my garden I simply go to the Garden Shed and borrow whatever tools I need. If I’m canning some Summer Salsa I simply go to the Common House and borrow a canner and all the necessary tools. If I need my carpets cleaned I can put the word out to my neighbours and we can hire a company to come in and clean all our carpets at the same time, usually for a cost savings.

Why can’t this model of sharing resources be incorporated into the design of our cities? Why does every household need a lawn mower or other items used infrequently? Could neighbourhoods have a central coop where they could go to get a tool that they need when they need it? This wouldn’t have to be limited to tools…what about camping gear, sports equipment, children’s toys, etc.???

P.S. – The Summer Salsa turned out great. It’s from this wounderful book on home preserving.


Entry filed under: Compacting, Frugal Living, Reducing Our Impact.

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1 Comment Add your own

  • 1. livelightly  |  September 5, 2007 at 6:55 am

    This is my dream society…one without money! I read an article recently about alternative economies….I can’t remember what magazine it was in. I just dug through all of my magazines in the RV and it’s driving me crazy! Anyway, it’s a topic I am immensely interested in. We’re planning on visiting Ithaca…where the community has their own currency.

    It’s so easy once you’re in the mindset of “trading” services. You realize how much you really do have to offer…in the way of talents and goods. I loved reading about your chain of trades 🙂


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I am passionate about reducing my impact on the environment and am learning to live simply and live green. I am learning the age old arts of home food preservation and cooking from scratch. This is yet another eco-blog and a place for me to really channel my passions for writing, photography and sustainable living.
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