Summer 1959, Moscow. During an official meeting, the head of the Soviet Union, Nikita Khrushchev, drinks a Pepsi Cola. Yes, victory! A member of the meeting discreetly welcomes.

The happy man is a representative of the famous American brand of drinks, Donald Kendall. That evening, Kendall had one goal: to convince the Russians to sell their drink in that immense country.

But Kendall shouted victory too early. If Khrushchev likes Pepsi, we are still in the times of the “cold war”. We don’t really talk about consuming a product from capitalist America!

But a few years later, when relations between the two countries improve, Pepsi tries again. And this time the Russians also see an interest in them because they can sell vodka to the Americans.

The deal can only be done without using the currency: Russia rejects the dollars of the American capitalists and cannot bring out the rubles from the country.

Then we return to the oldest form of exchange: bartering. The Russians authorize Americans to sell their drink on their soil in exchange for selling vodka on American soil.

This Pepsi exchange for vodka has continued for years, but in 1979 the US no longer wants to exchange Pepsi for vodka.

So Pepsi finds an alternative. Instead of regulating trade in vodka, the Russians will be able to pay with their old warships. Pepsi thus resells the old scrap metal to make a good profit.

Photo by Nick Jio on Unsplash

What do you think about it? Have you ever exchanged items with your friends? Would you like to do it, like when you were a child and you exchanged stickers?

Do you know that there are Local Exchange Trading Systems (LETS) where you can trade not only things but also services?

In times of crisis, it would be good to start applying new economic models, like the sharing economy, where individuals can hire out things like their cars, homes and time to others in a peer-to-peer modality. We exchanged our home for vacation for many years through a website called Home Based Holidays, and on the Web you can find many more. No worries about your belongings: they come to you place, but you go to theirs!

Once, at a second hand market I bought a sweater made by a famous French brand for 2 euros. I was astonished and the lady told me: What I don’t like any longer, you may like it.

Actually this is the principle: instead of buying things that we maybe use only once, or we get tired of soon, like children with their toys, we could start exchanging them.

It will be a step towards a more sustainable economy, that will bring us some benefits like reducing negative environmental impacts by decreasing the amount of goods needed to be produced, and cutting down on industry pollution. It will also increase recycling items and grant access to people who can’t afford buying certain types of goods or use them only from time to time.

All this is also in the perspective of the degrowth theory, that will let us go towards strengthening our belonging to our local community.

By the way, I have been using that sweater since then!

Photo by Norwood Themes on Unsplash