LETS (Local Exchange Trading Systems or Schemes) differ from currency schemes in one important way. The LETS philosophy deals with bartering of goods or exchange of time rather than money. Within a community, Janie might spend time babysitting at Kitty's to earn 'credits', and in return get some seedlings for her garden from Bill. Kitty might bring some home-baked biscuits to a swap meet and trade them for Bill to do some gardening for her. Jason might fix Bill's computer, and so the favours go around. LETS formalise a 'help-your-neighbour' philosophy. Many, many such projects exist around the world, and there are hundreds in Britain alone. Most deal by using centrally coordinated time banks or monthly swap meetings. Few have tried issuing notes to keep track of their projects, but the known schemes are covered on the following pages.
Many more unknown examples may exist, as these schemes are extremely localised. Should anyone know of printed notes please contact us, so additions can be researched.
In 2011, Bath decided it would introduce its own currency, not pegged to pounds sterling. Quoting from their website, "A brief history follows: the currency is now in the hands of a lot of people. A project like this takes time to grow and become tenable. It is hoped the Oliver will become as much a part of Bath as anything else it is famous for. Many people in this City are serious about eco-living, bartering and alternate lifestyles. The Oliver presents a means to facilitate some of this. Its present value, in 2012, is 40-50p. However, as with any functioning currency, market forces dictate the value. It may well change in value over the coming months as it finds its feet. The more it is used, the more ordinary people will benefit, and the more valuable a resource it becomes."
According to Jay Risbridger, one of the founders of the scheme: "The notes were printed by my business 'The Green Stationery Company' and I used an exclusive stock of UK produced hemp paper which was watermarked with a hemp leaf design. This paper has an interesting history. This high-quality 67gsm hemp paper was made by the legendary environmentalist John Hansen, after a bet with Teddy Goldsmith, then editor of The Ecologist. The bet was he couldn't make a hemp paper of good enough quality for the Ecologist magazine to be printed on. If he did make the paper, then the magazine would be printed on it. He made the paper, and for a considerable time The Ecologist had a section in it that was printed on John's hemp paper."
Alas, despite all the goodwill, the scheme did not catch on and folded in 2015.