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Going Green by Ditching Greenbacks: Local Currency on Rise

Communities are creating their own currency as a way to encourage neighbors to buy locally. The trick: you can only use the money at local stores, thus you're encouraged to buy from them. Think of it like a gift card — if you already have a Starbucks card, you probably won't head to Dunkin' Donuts. The program helps the environment, while also keeping neighbors employed.

The AP reports that local currency becomes especially popular during recessions as a way to promote the local economy. While the constitution forbids states from printing local money, the Supreme Court has held that private groups can create their own currencies so long as it doesn't compete with the federal dollar. Does this sound like a money idea to you?


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Jude-C Jude-C 8 years
Hmm. I've never lived anywhere where this is done, but I'd be interested to give it a whirl. But like others, I also am not sure how this is greener than regular money.
organicsugr organicsugr 8 years
Now if only we could make a currency that's commodity based, so that our pocketbook wouldn't be subject to the whims of the fed.
UnDave35 UnDave35 8 years
The town I lived in (Tomah, WI) had these, called Tomah Bucks. It helped promote buying locally, because they could only be used at the mom and pop stores in Tomah. The problem I had with these is that you couldn't buy from a larger chain, which meant you had to spend more to get the same thing. I definitely don't see how buying locally is going green, since the products aren't grown or produced locally.
StolzeMama StolzeMama 8 years
pop- sell them on ebay/ craiglist someone will buy them. I think this is a good idea.We don't have our own currency per se, but our downtown offers gift certificates. They are very popular and can be used at the farmers market as well. I like the idea. I think it would be competing only if you didn't have to buy the currency with us dollars. I think that you do have to buy it from them, I mean, they aren't just giving it away. They aren't like a commune. I think the currency is just like gift cards but with different values. Make sense?
tiabia tiabia 8 years
Thanks for that information pioneers :-)
pioneers pioneers 8 years
tiabia-- It's illegal for any store in the US to not accept USD currency. Local currency is only an option in these communities, and only with participating stores.
popgoestheworld popgoestheworld 8 years
I think the presumption is that it's "greener" to buy local. I'm not actually sure that's true at all. I mean, there is a store near me that sends goods imported from Tibet. Probably not a super-small carbon footprint for that shop... Also, I think they mean "compete" in a large scale. If a small community uses their own currency there isn't really a danger that it's going to be adopted by the United States as a whole. You're right though it would be interesting to check out the case. Speaking of gift cards, there needs to be a new business where you can return starbucks giftcards and get like 80 cents on the dollar. I would do that in a heart beat. I am up to 6 cards now, all of indeterminate value.
tiabia tiabia 8 years
In terms of competing, does this mean that the local store can only accept either federal currency OR the state currency. That's the only way I can see the two NOT competing.
Michelann Michelann 8 years
I don't understand how any even slightly serious local currency could not "compete" with the federal dollar. I need to track down that S.C. case so I can see what they mean, because this sounds pretty arbitrary.
pioneers pioneers 8 years
I've lived in communities where this is practiced, but I don't see how printing more currency is, "going green." I mean, unless it was all hand-done (on a press instead of a commercial printer) with non-toxic, soy or water-based inks, this isn't going green at all. Also, localized currency is great for buying within the community, but it also can become a means of exclusion for those who do not use it.
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