Local Currencies are Encouraging Local Sustainability

'Federation Coffee' by Matt Lucht
‘Federation Coffee’ by Matt Lucht

Developing a sustainable supply chain is becoming quite a big deal in our increasingly eco-conscious society, and one way it’s being achieved is with local currencies. A local currency is accepted only within a certain area (a borough, town, or city, for example), and can only be spent at locally run businesses.

These local currencies are one of a number of ways communities are coming together and becoming a little more sustainable for the good of the people and the planet, and are fostering a budding culture of self-sufficiency.

Brixton Pound

The Brixton Pound launched in September 2009 as a set of paper notes, and in 2011 the pay-by-text Brixton Pound made its way into local businesses too. Today, around 250 businesses in the area are accepting the currency, and over 160 are using the pay-by-text method.

The Brixton Pound is not alone here in the UK, but it was the first to be set up in an urban location. The other local currencies across the country are found in Totnes, Lewes, Stroud, and Bristol. There is word of new local currencies in the pipeline for Hackney, Oxford, and Kingston, and it’s likely that a few more will crop up too in support of local businesses elsewhere in the country.

Bristol Pound

The Bristol Pound is the first in the country to be introduced across a whole city, and the first to have digital accounts managed by a regulated financial institution – it can even be used to pay some local taxes! The Bristol Pound also uses a TXT2PAY system similar to the Brixton Pound pay-by-text introduced in 2011, so it’s just as versatile as Sterling. It’s proved such a success that at the point of election last year, the new mayor of Bristol – George Ferguson – decided to receive his entire salary in the Bristol Pound.

Good news for everyone!

Local currencies such as the Brixton Pound and the Bristol Pound are great news for local businesses and residents alike. The idea behind them is pretty simple: a local currency can only be spent in the local area at the small, locally-run businesses that accept them. This is good for the businesses as the currency can only circulate through them, going from one local business to another and keeping the supply chain small and sustainable (by avoiding ordering supplies from outside the area and keeping shipping emissions minimal). It’s great for residents too, as the businesses they want in their area are able to survive there against the competition of large companies moving in to take their profits.

Sustainability is growing in importance, and is taking hold across the country in lots of exciting ways – keep a look out for sustainable initiatives in your area, and help keep your local businesses booming and the environment blooming.


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