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Sunday, July 24, 2011

Gift exchange

Last night a young friend of mine came over to the house. His old Mercedes diesel was loaded up with high quality industrial firebrick. After we unloaded his car, we loaded up a dozen jugs of waste vegetable oil. He is another grease burner. The old Benz of his is converted to run on waste vegetable oil.

His gift of firebrick is saving me a lot of money on my rocket stove project. In fact, I would not be able to afford brick of this quality. My gift of waste veggie saves him a couple hundred dollars that won’t have to be spent on diesel fuel.

The bricks didn’t cost him anything and the oil didn’t cost me anything, but both of us saved a lot of money with the exchange.

When I first told him I had some waste veggie oil to spare, he offered to give me some money. I quickly refused money. It’s not how a gift economy works. Since I didn’t want any money from him he asked me if there was anything I was looking for. Eventually, I mentioned I’m building a rocket stove and will need some fire brick. He’s working a construction job that had some brick left over.

Here’s the thing, back when I was down in Florida looking for waste vegetable oil, this guy was able to put me in touch with a group of people who might have some to spare. I felt like I owned this guy a gift for good information.

Now that I’m back at my home base, I’ve got plenty of high quality waste veggie at my disposal. It’s no big deal to share some.

Funny thing is, I feel like I still owe the guy and he feels like he owes me. This isn’t like a barter arrangement where it’s a direct trade. If things don’t come out exactly even, no one will feel hurt. We both feel like helping each other out if we can. What is gained by giving? A warm feeling inside and status in the tribe.

Now we aren’t a real tribe, but there are worse things like operating in a tribal style gift economy.



  1. fair price for a fair trade

    works for me


  2. Win-Win! I hate people who price tag everything.If you have helped me out I will help you out,probably even if you haven't.Sounds like two good fellas helping each other!


  3. Sounds like you both won on that deal!