Thursday, 7 November 2013

Moneyless Living (& Travelling), by Mark Boyle.

During a philosophical evening conversation about the many troubles in the world, Mark Boyle realized that each of the many issues he was discussing with his friend shared a common root cause: money. Inspired by Mahatma Ghandi’s quote, “Be the change you want to see in the world,” Mark, then a successful businessman, resolved to live for a year without spending or receiving any hard cash. After successfully living moneyless for a whole year, Mark decided to continue living like that for two further years. As he now claims, this turned out to be the most fulfilling period of his life.
I've now more friends in my community than ever, I haven't been ill since I began, and I've never felt fitter. I've found that friendship, not money, is real security. Most western poverty is psychological. Real independence is interdependence.
Since that experience, Mark authored two books: The Moneyless Man and The Moneyless Manifesto. In these books, he described his experience of living moneyless and provided a guide for reducing society’s dependence on money; he donated all the profits he made through the books to charity. Furthermore, Mark is the founder of the free economy movement, an alternative economy that has been adopted by local groups all across the world. Mark continues to spread his message that we need to change the way we live. He strongly believes that we are addicted to money and our obsession with it is leading to the destruction of our planet. Moreover, he is of the opinion that we need to live in harmony and live in a sustainable manner; in other words in a more “heartfelt” and “loving” way. He stresses out that we need to do this now, before it is too late. As he says, we are all part of the story, so we need to be part of the change. A very important message indeed.

Sources and more: Moneyless Manifesto, Huffington Post, Permaculture

Travel without money poses challenges that make holidays more fun

A sense of adventure will pay your way to interesting places while meeting inspiring people
How to live a cashless life without starving
My year of living without money
To say that travel is the luxury – and not necessity – of the fossil fuel generation is an over-simplification. Globalisation has rapidly scattered close family and friends across the world, and the increasingly stressful jobs we seem to create for ourselves often mean we "need" to get away from it all, regularly. These holidays are often paid for on credit, resulting in even more stress once the fun is over, perpetuating the need for more temporary freedom and debt in the future.
Although this is all very understandable, our collective contribution to climate change through the way we travel is astronomical. Travel does not have to cost the Earth – or even money. There are two main expenses: getting somewhere, and staying there. To save yourself both of these, the only prerequisite is a sense of adventure.
Mark Boyle says a sense of adventure will help you pay your way for free - and limit your ecological footprint. Photograph: Matt Cardy/Getty Images
If you are happy to holiday in the fantastic countryside that surrounds British cities, walking and cycling are fantastic options. They'll keep you fit and, ironically, ensure you return home more energised than when you left. And if you keep up the habit, they'll also save on a gym fee into the bargain. I have friends who drive to the gym and get on a bicycle machine for 45 mintues before driving home! I often joke that they should save themselves the gym fee, the cost of the fuel, car tax and insurance, MoTs and just cycle to the gym and back without going in. Organisations such as Sustrans and the Ramblers are now making it easier – and more fun – than ever to go carless, especially for holidaymakers.
To make walking not just cheap, but not completely free, you're going to have to make your own footwear. My favourite are flip-flops made from old car tyres, used bicycle tubes and organically grown hemp. To make cycling free, pick up used parts (that are destined for landfill but are still usuable) from your nearest bike store, and get someone from your local Freeconomy Community to show you how to fix it for free. I use a dynamo to save the cost of batteries to both my pocket and the planet, and puncture-proof tyres to make sure I'll never need disposable repair kits again. Getting yourself some panniers will save you a sweaty back and make it much more enjoyable.
If you are going further afield, why not stick out your thumb. You rarely see people hitch-hiking these days, but it's such a fantastic way to journey: you get to meet the most interesting characters, you reduce your carbon footprint, get lots of fascinating local knowledge the guidebooks will never divulge, and you don't have to spend a single penny on transport. Almost all of my favourite times adventuring have involved hitch-hiking, and I'd often end up having the most incredible experiences in places I'd never even intended on going. If this sounds a bit too risky (in terms of time and personal safety), then go online for some formalised hitching, by using schemes such as LiftShare and CarShare. I cycle lots and my observations while on the road reveal that around seven out of every 10 cars that pass me have only one person inside. This isn't just ecological lunacy, it's idiotic organisation.
Once you get wherever you're going, traditionally another major cost arises: accommodation. Not any more. If you love being outdoors whatever the season (I've often woken up on urban football pitches at 6am only to find my water bottle frozen), there is always a bivi bag or the tried and trusted tent.
If that all seems a bit too Ray Mears for you, a new department of the gift economy has come to the rescue. CouchSurfing and The Hospitality Club have millions of members all over the world, all waiting to let you stay on their couch for free. Not only do you save yourself the cost of a hotel, you also get the opportunity to make a new friend, learn more about the real local culture, and get to use their kitchen facilities instead of paying for expensive meals in homogenised restaurants.
These projects are based on the same pay-it-forward economics that I founded Freeconomy on: they depend on you letting a traveller stay on your couch when your turn to be provider comes around. The person you help may never help you in return, but whenever you need it, you'll find someone you've never helped before on hand. It's an organic flow of giving and receiving that entire eco-systems are based on.
A change is often more interesting than a break. More and more people are now WWOOFing (Willing Workers on Organic Farms) during their "time-off", where you help out on an organic farm for 20-30hrs a week, and get food and board in return. However, that's only half the deal. You also get to learn lots of new skills, skills that you may need in a post peak oil economy, and skills that you'd often pay large course fees to learn.
None of this is complicated. Like with many of the world's problems, the answers are already available; they just need to start being applied. All it requires is a rebirth of trust in people and a willingness to open the doors of fear to humanity again. You may even enjoy it.
• Mark Boyle is the founder of the Freeconomy Community and has lived without money for the past 18 months. His book, The Moneyless Man, is out now, published by Oneworld - sales from the book will go to a charitable trust for the Freeconomy Community

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