Alternatives to Money


Although our current monetary systems may at times seem like the only possibilities, a brief historical look reminds us that it hasn’t always been this way. In fact, it is one among many possibilities that are currently in play. And luckily, there are many more alternatives and exciting glimpses of the Future of Money all around!

For instance, thousands of people around the world have been developing and using alternative currencies, such as Local Exchange Trading Systems (LETS) and Time Dollars or Time Banking. There are also many groups and individuals working on ‘open source’ currencies, and families who are choosing to spend less money, buy less stuff, and live more simply.

‘Alternative’ economic activity already exists for most of us in our daily lives – in fact, life might be a lot more difficult without it. Just think of all the things we do that don’t involve (or, aren’t primarily about) money! Parents caring for children, volunteers cleaning up a park or organizing a festival, friends trading clothes, people listening to each other’s stories, carpooling to an event, and neighbors growing a garden together – these are just a few examples on an ever-expanding list. Even within today’s financial systems, these activities are evidence that we often put life, not money, at the center of things. What if we can accept that ‘the market system’ has served its function and it is now time our entire economy made life, and all that maintains it, its highest priority? The markets may be part of it, but would cease to drive it. What might such an economy look like?

Life-supporting economic principles are already evident in many worker-run cooperatives and businesses, sliding scale payment options, participatory budgeting, social justice movements, Fair Trade, Community Land Trusts, credit unions, barter clubs, family and clan-based production, collective housing, job-sharing arrangements, and other forms of the solidarity economy. Meanwhile, ecological economics provides a helpful alternative framework for thinking about bigger picture economic and environmental questions.

Help spread the message about alternatives to money and show that a more generous world is possible by participating in Free Money Day.