Monday, May 10, 2010

Living Without Money

I stumbled across an article that discussed how Mark Boyle, a man in the UK, decided to live without money for an entire year. He lived off the grid and created his own energy, grew his own food, and foraged through the wilderness or got leftovers from restaurants for the rest. He took some advice and assistance from the Freeconomy Community--another UK group that's been living without money in an alternate community. My main question about Boyle, is that he's been writing articles for The Guardian; so is he getting paid to write these articles? I couldn't really find any info. If you're aware, let me know!

However, the more I looked into living without money, the more I realized that Boyle was far from alone in the quest, and that others had been doing it long before he had. They all had different reasons for trying to go moneyless. Boyle did it because he was disaffected with consumer culture and money, and also to live a more sustainable lifestyle consuming others' waste.

There is Suelo, from the US, who lives without money in a similar manner by consuming others' waste. This involves dumpster diving and asking for leftovers from restaurants. Suelo focuses on faith and philosophy as a backdrop to surviving life without money. He's been moneyless for 12 years, with the exception of one month. His life seems more nomadic than Boyle's, who set up camp in one place.

Heidemarie Schwerner, from Germany, was a psychotherapist who after years of seeing people's lives destroyed by money decided to go moneyless. She began exchange circles where people could exchange services and objects. She then gave away or donated all of her possessions and "cancelled her flat" (that's what the article says, not totally sure how that works) and moved in with friends, working for them in exchange for living space and food. Heidemarie's philosophy is very different from Suelo and Boyle who often live off other's excess. Heidemarie is moneyless, but basically works for friends, simply cutting out the exchange of cash. However, she has been living without money for 12 years, just as Suelo has and the idea of exchange circles has expanded all over Germany.

Obviously, most of us don't have the skills or knowledge or, let's be honest, the drive to simply quit money cold turkey, but perhaps in hard economic times (or for us broke college kids) and dire environmental circumstances, we could all learn a few things. Take leftovers: furniture and appliances that other people don't want anymore--pick them up off the side of the road (I have definitely done this before), check Craig's list, dumpster dive if you're brave enough and not germ-phobic; you could try asking restaurants for leftover food like Suelo and Boyle do. You can exchange favors with friends. It's simple advice, and a lot of it is common sense unless you want to build an apparatus to live off the grid like Boyle. However, I think we've all forgotten that there are other ways to get food, objects, and services when we utter the phrase, "I'm broke as shit."

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