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Barcelona’s barter markets: an antidote to overconsumption

A barter economy may seem far-out, but this world of trade is growing in parts of Spain (particularly Catalonia). “We’ve noticed that barter is growing significantly”, explains Juan Manuel Sánchez of sindinero.org (sin dinero meaning “without money”). “I’m referring to virtual barter (websites focused on exchange) to the barter markets organized by neighborhooods and associations. The reasons? The economic crisis on the one hand combined with the Internet’s power to form social networks and spread the word.”

The first modern Spanish barter market was launched over 2 decades ago in a small town called Mieres. It quickly grew into a sort of Woodstock of exchange markets where over a thousand visitors to the annual event swap everything from dental services to cars.

While money-less markets may never go mainstream, they are an important part of any type of shift to a less consumption-oriented society. “Although they seem small test exercises of an alternative economy”, explains Àlex Piñol of Barcelona’s waste prevention group, “they wouldn’t have to be “the” alternative, but one of the alternatives”.

Today, you can find a market nearly every weekend in some part of Catalonia. In this video, we visited the 14th of the bi-annual exchanges held in Barcelona’s Sagrada Familia neighborhood.