My first Ethical Co-Op Order runs aground

The Ethical CO-OP refuses to honour exchanges made in Talents.  Although some of its produce is on offer on CES.

Believe it or not, but I have managed to enter into a mutually-beneficial economic exchange using an alternative currency which is based upon the community as opposed to the financial system. The alternative Community Exchange System (CES) uses Talents (T) instead of Rands or Dollars. The CO-OP appears to have restricted these kind of transactions to old stock which it is offering on the exchange for T.  A recent order placed with the CO-OP had to be canceled because it involved an alternative currency.

Here is the message I wrote to Natalie Reid of Ethical Co-Op who after initially saying no, appeared to  change her mind when I explained to her the benefits. She now says the matter is “under consideration” with the COOP directors.

Dear Natalie,

I recently signed up to the CES site. Initially I was of the same opinion but curious, what is there to actually buy or exchange in T? My bad financial status forced me to give it a try because it offers an alternative to the current system of exchange which is based upon banks, interest and currency trading. CES has a wonderful energy about it and it has allowed me to share my Linux computer skills with the community.

The exchanges therefore don’t have to be direct exchanges but can be moderated by the system which gives you local credit for your goods and services which you can then exchange for anything on offer in the community. Stokvels work in a similar way.

The CES  electronic system has certainly evolved quiet beautifully over the years from when it was just a paper-based system, which made me a bit dubious. There are now hundreds of users on the site and a whole variety of different goods and services on offer. I recently purchased an organic origanum plant for my herb garden and a vegi burger and am hoping that as more services are offered, more energy is distributed and shared amongst the community.

This is the real beauty of CES, it discourages hoarding, because the value is not in paper, but in the community. In other words, CES encourages people to meet the needs of the community as opposed to meeting the needs of financial instruments. Instead of working for your bank, (and your own selfish interests), you end up working for your community which is better equipped to see to your needs than your bank manager.

I would therefore encourage you to raise the issues you have with the CES system amongst the community. If there is a shortage of a particular type of produce as you indicate, then please put this to the community as a suggestion for an offer category. Maybe there should be an agricultural section? There is abundant energy in the universe, we just need to direct it to a good purpose.

Also the recommended exchange of R for T is 1:1. I have noticed the pricing varies from transaction to transaction. Some services are cheaper in T while others are more expensive. T won’t replace R as yet, but it can help to circulate energy around the community in an alternative way, creating new possibilities as one moves forward. So yes, I would love the opportunity to be able to trade with you and go organic by exchanging my T for your produce.

Just an idea, perhaps you need to set a quota, or percentage, aside to be traded on CES? Then ethical trading could advertise that a certain percentage of its transactions were traded in T, which in turn would create an expectation of what one can expect to buy through the CES? We could challenge users in turn to set aside a certain percentage towards organic produce which would help organic farmers and so on!

Look forward to hearing from you again.



Below is my canceled order from the Ethical Trading Site. I was prepared to pay the “organic premium” and even a delivery fee.

The Ethical Co-Op thanks you for order.

You have chosen to have your order delivered to your Home address

1 x Honey, Pure 500ml (Filtered) - Honeywood Farm (R33.00 each)
1 x Apples Royal Gala / 1kg - Organic Farmers Co-Op (R18.00 each)
1 x Baguette, Petite (wheat) - La Petite Boulangerie (R12.50 each)
1 x Cows Milk Feta 175g - Camphill Dairy (R22.00 each)
1 x Couscous (wholemeal) 500g - *the ethical co-op (R23.50 each)
1 x Onions, Pickled 375ml - Sandveld Organics (R22.00 each)
1 x Rooibos Tea, Leaves 250g - Cedarfruits (R14.00 each)
1 x Buchu Tea Leaves 25g - Cedarfruits (R14.50 each)
1 x Apple Juice 1Litre - Elgin Organics (R15.50 each)
1 x Soap, Fynbos 100g - Bloublommetjies (R9.00 each)
1 x Essential Oil, Tea Tree 11ml - S.O.I.L (R31.00 each)

Order: R215.00
Delivery: R45.00
Total: R260.00
  1. davidrobertlewis: “I have managed to enter into a mutually-beneficial economic exchange using an alternative currency which is based upon the community as opposed to the financial system. The alternative Community Exchange System (CES) uses Talents (T) instead of Rands or Dollars.”
    Jct: In 1999, I paid for 39/40 nights in Europe with an IOU for a night back in Canada worth 5 Hours. How many Talents is 5 Hours worth and will you take mine if I take yours?

  2. Depends on Timebanking doesn’t it? I would definitely accept your Talents but what is one hour worth in Canada compared to one hour in South Africa? In order to enjoy the one hour there I would need an airticket, or somebody to trade the hour with. It’s an interesting conundrum which I hope can be solved by Open-Source Economics.

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