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Could we return to the good old days of bartering?

We are living through unprecedented times. Many small businesses have collapsed and many more are struggling. We are being encouraged to go cashless and many retailers and services are now ‘card only’.

But, what if, instead of moving towards only using cards, we do the opposite and move away from the exchange of money at all and back to a system of bartering?

There are several sites for the exchange of goods (for example Swapz and Freecycle in the UK) and others for specific items – clothes, books, even homes… With Christmas fast approaching such sites could be invaluable to those struggling financially right now. Not only that, reducing the amount of waste from unwanted items has a huge environmental benefit and is fast becoming a necessity.*

And what about actually swapping our skills? Many people are being forced to think about a career change at the moment. Maybe the skills we have are exactly what someone is looking for… but how can we find out?

There seems to be very little online for the exchange of services (unless you’re in the US). is a global site offering swaps, but there doesn’t seem to be much on there in the UK. LetsLinkUK is another, but again there doesn’t seem to be much going on on it (I have messaged what claims to be a local group – I’ll keep you posted…)

There are probably all sorts of legal considerations here – if we exchange services the tax man could be missing out… But is there anything stopping us from doing our own thing within our local community or online? Could you ‘pay’ your window cleaner in home grown vegetables? Could you exchange Spanish lessons for IT support?

It would be wonderful if there was a national (or local) database where we could offer our services in this way (but again I suspect there might be legal issues). Or could we just add a comment to our price list that we are happy to negotiate an exchange of services in place of payment?

It’s certainly a great time for thinking outside the box and, more than ever, we need to be coming together as a community and supporting each other.

If you know of any UK based swap sites that I haven’t mentioned, or have experience of the ones I have, please comment below and let’s share share share!

*If you can’t find what you want on a swap site, or you’re happier paying for your goods, try and support smaller independent businesses through, for example, Etsy (or google your local small business to see whether they have a website).

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