TimeBanks is a program in which you share your time and skills and instead of receiving money, you can call on other people’s time and skills in return. Using human resources this way is very green and helps build community.

Everyone’s time is equal: One hour of time earns one time credit regardless of what you spend that hour doing. You spend time doing something for someone else and deposit your time in the bank. You then make a withdrawal from the time bank when you need someone to spend time doing something for you. A timekeeper (or online matching system) keeps track of the time spent and matches people up to help as they need it — and no payments change hands.

For example, you may register for the program and say that you’re willing to help out with people’s yard work. Someone calls in and says that she needs your help, and you spend two hours working in her yard for her. Those two hours are banked for you. Perhaps you need some help setting up an accounting system for your small business. You can ask TimeBanks for two hours of help from a bookkeeper. The bookkeeper’s two hours then get banked for him, and the system keeps going.

You can get more information — including details about setting up a program in your area if there isn’t one there already — from TimeBanks USA, the national nonprofit organization that links and supports time banks across the country by providing inspiration, guidance, and practical help.