Irishman Mark Boyle tried to live life with no income, no bank balance and no spending. Here’s how he finds it:
"If someone told me seven years ago, in my final year of a business and economics degree, that I’d now be living without money, I’d have probably choked on my microwaved ready meal. The plan back then was to get a ‘good’ job, make as much money as possible, and buy the stuff that would show society I was successful.
For a while I did it – I had a fantastic job managing a big organic food company; had myself a yacht on the harbour. If it hadn’t been for the chance purchase of a video called Gandhi, I’d still be doing it today. Instead, for the last fifteen months, I haven’t spent or received a single penny. Zilch.
The change in life path came one evening on the yacht whilst philosophising with a friend over a glass of merlot. Whilst I had been significantly influenced by the Mahatma’s quote “be the change you want to see in the world”, I had no idea what that change was up until then. We began talking about all major issues in the world – environmental destruction, resource wars, factory farms, sweatshop labour – and wondering which of these we would be best devoting our time to. Not that we felt we could make any difference, being two small drops in a highly polluted ocean.
But that evening I had a realisation. These issues weren’t as unrelated as I had previously thought – they had a common root cause. I believe the fact that we no longer see the direct repercussions our purchases have on the people, environment and animals they affect is the factor that unites these problems.
The degrees of separation between the consumer and the consumed have increased so much that it now means we’re completely unaware of the levels of destruction and suffering embodied in the ‘stuff’ we buy.
Very few people actually want to cause suffering to others; most just don’t have any idea that they directly are. The tool that has enabled this separation is money, especially in its globalised format.
Take this for an example: if we grew our own food, we wouldn’t waste a third of it as we do today.
If we made our own tables and chairs, we wouldn’t throw them out the moment we changed the interior décor.
If we had to clean our own drinking water, we probably wouldn’t shit in it.
So to be the change I wanted to see in the world, it unfortunately meant I was going to have to give up money, which I decided to do for a year initially. So I made a list of the basics I’d need to survive. I adore food, so it was at the top. There are four legs to the food-for-free table: foraging wild food, growing your own, bartering and using waste grub, of which there far too much.
On my first day I fed 150 people a three course meal with waste and foraged food. Most of the year I ate my own crops though and waste only made up about five per cent my diet. I cooked outside – rain or shine – on a rocket stove.
Next up was shelter. So I got myself a caravan from Freecycle, parked it on an organic farm I was volunteering with, and kitted it out to be off the electricity grid. I’d use wood I either coppiced or scavenged to heat my humble abode in a wood burner made from an old gas bottle, and I had a compost loo to make ‘humanure’ for my veggies.
I bathed in a river, and for toothpaste I used washed up cuttlefish bone with wild fennel seeds, an oddity for a vegan. For loo roll I’d relieve the local newsagents of its papers (I once wiped my arse with a story about myself); it wasn’t double quilted but it quickly became normal. To get around I had a bike and trailer, and the 55 km commute to the city doubled up as my gym subscription. For lighting I’d use beeswax candles.
Many people label me an anti-capitalist. Whilst I do believe capitalism is fundamentally flawed, requiring infinite growth on a finite planet, I am not anti anything. I am pro-nature, pro-community and pro-happiness. And that’s the thing I don’t get – if all this consumerism and environmental destruction brought happiness, it would make some sense. But all the key indicators of unhappiness – depression, crime, mental illness, obesity, suicide and so on are on the increase. More money it seems, does not equate to more happiness.
Ironically, I have found this year to be the happiest of my life. I’ve more friends in my community than ever, I haven’t been ill since I began, and I’ve never been fitter. I’ve found that friendship, not money, is real security. That most western poverty is spiritual. And that independence is really interdependence.
Could we all live like this tomorrow? No. It would be a catastrophe, we are too addicted to both it and cheap energy, and have managed to build an entire global infrastructure around the abundance of both. But if we devolved decision making and re-localised down to communities of no larger than 150 people, then why not? For over 90 per cent of our time on this planet, a period when we lived much more ecologically, we lived without money. Now we are the only species to use it, probably because we are the species most out of touch with nature.
People now often ask me what is missing compared to my old world of lucre and business. Stress. Traffic-jams. Bank statements. Utility bills. Oh yeah, and the odd pint of organic ale with my mates down the local.”
Bolded for emphasis. Keep up the good anti-consumerism fight, Irishman!
People still buy these ugly disgusting things. Even when I tell them about the animals that died for their ugly boots they don’t care.
I don’t agree with ugg boots but this is actually bullshit.
1. Lamb marking (cutting off tails) is done so that the sheep doesnt get flyblown when summer comes. Flyblown is where flies lay their eggs near the anus of a sheep, when they hatch maggots eat at the inside of the sheep colon, infesting it with bacteria which can eventually kill them, slowly and very painfully.
2. Shearing does not injure a sheep, I don’t know about other countries but I’m sure its the same as Australia when if you do not shear them, they DO eventually become flyblown.
3. You CANNOT use wool if it has been contaminated by BLOOD. It cannot be skirted out like poo and urine does by the roustabouts.
4. Once a sheep has had its ‘throat slit’ it cannot be sheared for the same reason as 3. It has no advantage for anyone by killing their livestock if they are in the wool industry.
I don’t care about your decision to hate ugg boots, you probably don’t give a flying shit about mine but DO NOT spread this bullshit information when the wool industry does not work that way.
Are people seriously, honest-to-got unaware that sheep are not killed for their wool??? Maybe it’s because I come from an area with a large farming community but it’s always been common knowledge for me that sheep are not killed for their wool?
honest to God what is wrong with you people it’s literally the easiest thing to find out
is research a foreign concept for you
do you just think people will take your bullshit at face value?
actually i’m not going to contribute this to inaccuracy i’m going to contribute this to outright lying to prove your point which a: is so fucking wrong that I can’t even and b: just proves that you are not to be trusted
You are not helping your cause
you are hurting it
you are shitting all over it
if you give to fucks about animal rights you’ll stop this right now but oh wait you care more about the sensationalism than the activism
jesus christ shit like this disgusts me
This is not a typical post for me, but falls in line with my general rants against unaware consumption and impossibly obfuscated commodity chains. UGG boots are only one in a million commodities which have moral, social or environmental implications which we are not aware of unless you decide to hunt down the production process.
Cross-sections of animals who have ingested cigarette butts.
So fellow cis people, the next time that you laugh, stare, point, make inappropriate jokes, sarcastic or abusive comments remember that 238 trans people were murdered this year alone. Also remember the people that have developed agoraphobia, too afraid to come out of their houses lest they be confronted by one of us that refuses to recognise their humanity. Remember people like Lucy Meadows that were driven to suicide because we did not allow her to live the life that she deserved, one free of harassment and doing a job that she enjoyed.
I have been guilty of making stupid jokes in the past when I was too ignorant to understand the full weight behind my words of which I am deeply ashamed. Don’t sit and allow others to abuse trans people either. Challenge them. You don’t have to be personally responsible for anyone’s death, being complicit by remaining silent is bad enough. Be better. Do better. We can’t bring back the trans people that have lost their lives but we can stop the body count increasing.