How Time Banking Assists the Transition to a Sustainable Future

For some days now, the Earth’s population has exceeded 8 billion people, which means there are more mouths to feed and needs to cover than ever. The world population in the 1960s was about 3 billion, and since then, it has followed an increasing trend. Projections see that number rising to 9.7 billion by 2050.  

But can it be sustainable in a world with ever-stopping population growth and declining resources? The answer is probably no unless we implement radical changes in how we produce and consume goods and services. It should not discourage us, though. There are economic models that we can adopt, like time banking, to make the world little by little more sustainable, starting from the local communities.

This article will explain time banking, how it works, and the benefits it provides to communities to make them more sustainable and inclusive. Towards the end, we will show two examples of time banking platforms we recently developed with our partners in the CAPABILITY-TB project.

Let’s dive in.

What is Time Banking?

Time banking is a tax-exempt time-based currency instead of money that values more people’s free time instead of money. Also, it focuses more on helping others than economic gains, as is the norm now.

How It Works

Time credits are awarded to anyone performing a service or a job to another member of the time banking community. To receive them, members must offer their services in something they are good at. Anything that is.

So, a plumber working for one hour will receive a 1-hour time credit. Then, he or she can redeem this credit for an hour of some other service in the time banking community. For example, if that plumber wants to learn a new language, they can exchange a time credit for an hour of language lessons.

Time banks have many differences from each other. Since they work based on service exchange, their location, demographics, and the local economy determine the offered services.

A community in a mountainous area does not offer the same services as one next to the sea. For instance, sailing lessons would be impossible and impractical at high altitudes unless there was a lake or river nearby.

The Importance of Time Banking

They say, “time is money”. In many ways, time is more valuable than time since our staying in this world is not infinite. Based on that, is there a better way to spend our time in this world than being with our family and friends or serving our communities?

Despite the benefits and comforts modernity offers, our lives have not necessarily changed for the better. Dictated by marketing, we have become slaves to our own needs and desires. Or, at least, we think of them as our own.

In today’s abundant world, consumerism and profit maximization are praised everywhere or on social media. As a result, many of us live to work rather than work to live. This dwindles our free time and negatively affects our well-being and relationships.  

Time banking is an opportunity to change this by turning our focus from materialism to building relationships within our communities. At the end of the end, the current system is unsustainable in the long run. It’s only a matter of time before humanity strays its course.

What Are the Benefits of Time Banking?

Time banking is a great way to start the transition to a more sustainable, humane, and inclusive world since it allows us to:

  1. Save money by purchasing goods and services with time credit rather than money.  
  2. Strengthen communities by allowing even the most vulnerable members to work, and feel valued and included.   
  3. Spend fewer resources by changing our focus from earning and spending more money to having more free time.
  4. Reduce waste by promoting the sharing economy principles and eliminating unsustainable consumerism.

Τwo Time Banking Platforms To Get Started

Time banking has been known, especially in the US, since 1980. This was the year Edgar Cahn reinvented the idea of money with no price. Since then, time banks have slowly appeared across Europe.

Understanding the value of time banks in our fight for a more equitable and sustainable world, the European Commission provides funding to European projects like CAPABILITY-TB.

The project is an Erasmus+ project seeking to increase the competencies of persons with disabilities and their supports by improving their inclusion and participation through time banking.

For this purpose, the project’s consortium has developed two online time banking platforms; one to be used as a prototype time bank for local communities and an e-learning platform to train on how to use the time bank platform most effectively.

The platforms are the following:

  1. E-learning time bank:  This online time bank serves as a training space for the project participants. Users can familiarize themselves with creating a user profile, interacting with other community members, understanding how time credits work, evaluating the offered services, etc. The CAPABILITY-TB Timebank is online, and you can register to use it by clicking here.  
  2. E-learning training platform: Since using a time bank requires having at least a basic level of digital skills, CAPABILITY-TB has created an e-learning platform for digital upskilling. Someone can find and complete various activities and training material to learn everything needed to participate in the time bank community. To start learning, visit the CAPABILITY-TB e-learning platform.


We are at a point where the world needs more sustainable solutions to avert an environmental and socioeconomic catastrophe. The timebanking movement offers a model of community service exchange that can help the most vulnerable and build a strong sense of community among its members. At the same time, it promotes sustainable and healthy living, which is crucial in the rapid-paced world we currently live in.

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Vasilis Bouronikos
Content & Communication Manager

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