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Currencies that are good for the planet

Posted on 29 July 2014.

Change the world by changing the currency? Supporters of monetary diversity believe it promotes social innovation and sustainable consumption. Three pieces of evidence that prove it.

Although the way we pay for things is constantly changing, the monetary system itself seems self-evident. Nevertheless, many alternative currencies have developed in parallel to our centralized regional or national currencies. From the 1930s local currencies began flourishing worldwide, supporting not only more ethical and responsible trade but also local, environmentally friendly activities. In the 2000s virtual currencies began to appear in games with the gold coins found in the World of Warcraft or the Linden dollars in Second Life. Then in 2009, BitCoin completely changed the way we view currencies by promoting an alternative, decentralized system. Since then, the Internet and mobile phones have facilitated the creation of new, electronic, local, free, etc. currencies. An amazing innovation driver - particularly for the sustainable economy.

Complementary local currencies and the local food movement

Some people may be short of money, but they do not lack skills or know-how. Local currencies have emerged that give the worth back to resources that are insufficiently valued. The Brixton Pound in London (United Kingdom), Chiemgauer in Bavaria (Germany), BayBucks in San Francisco (United State) and Sol-Violette in Toulouse (France)... There are more than 5,000 of them world-wide!

Usually these currencies are created with local authority support by associations to promote specific activities (sustainable development, green industries, education, job creation, etc.) and develop a sense of community. They are used by folks in a particular geographical area that share the same values.

E-portemonnee and small everyday ecological gestures

Shopping in a used clothing store, putting a no-advertisements sticker on the mailbox, or choosing a green energy provider enables people in Limburg Province in Belgium to go to the cinema, theater or swimming pool for free or treat themselves to environmentally friendly products. Launched in 2005 at the initiative of, a public waste management company, E-portemonnee is a trading scheme devised to encourage everyday sustainable patterns of behavior. As they take positive action for the environment (waste, energy), the scheme’s members accumulate points (100 points = 1 euro) which they can then use to purchase goods and services offered by the municipality. At the moment, ten cities have joined the program - the aim is to involve all the municipalities in Limburg Province (around forty) and achieve a participation rate of 10% of households.

SolarCoin and solar energy

Launched this year in the United States, SolarCoin works along the same lines as BitCoin. Except that this crypto-currency (a decentralized peer-to-peer electronic currency) is a new type based on a single concept - solar energy - and that 99% of the coins available will be allocated to people who generate solar energy anywhere in the world. The objective is to have a more sustainable currency than BitCoin (mining, which allows you to create BitCoins, is very energy hungry) and support the production of 97,500 TWh of solar energy over the next 40 years. 1 MWh represents 1 SolarCoin, for which we don’t yet have a monetary value. According to the official website, it should reach 20 or 30 dollars (15 or 20 euros). Although SolarCoin will not make you a lot of money, it is a good idea that offers a new type of incentive on the road to renewable energy. Ultimately, the more people that fit solar panels, the less they will cost.

For more information:

- The official Solarcoin website
- The official E-portemonnee website
- Brixton Pound
- Chiemgauer
- Bay Bucks
- Sol-Violette
- Can local currencies help advance global sustainability?
- Local exchange trading systems