We’re all about smart spending and eco-friendly living, but when we read about Mark Boyle, an Irishman who lived without money for an entire year, we’ll be honest: We rolled our eyes. Boyle lives in a trailer that he found on Freecycle.org, grows, forages, and dumpster dives for his food, makes paper and ink from mushrooms, and brushes his teeth with cuttlefish and fennel — all in the name of the environment, according to an interview from Mother Jones.
He started his ascetic lifestyle as a year-long experiment, inspired by the movie Gandhi. He’s studied economics and worked in the organic food industry, but decided to continue his currency-free lifestyle after the experiment was over, preferring it to life with a bank account (although he did write a book about his experience, Moneyless Man: A Year of Freeconomic Living, and plans to spend his profits on buying land for his trailer).
This all sounds “great” (We told you about the cuttlefish-toothbrush thing, right?), but we’re a little skeptical that dumpster-diving and trading services for internet use really offers the world a good model of environmentalism and low-impact living. In his interview with Mother Jones, he says, “Even if you go to the shops and buy a packet of biscuits, then you’re buying into the system, willingly or not.” He’s not buying his biscuits, but we fail to see how living off the waste of the system is that much better.
“I think we’re conditioned into thinking political systems as being either communism or capitalism. I think there are a lot more options available. We just haven’t explored them,” he says. His experiment is attention-grabbing, but we wish he’d use it to promote options that are applicable to more of us, not just a few people lucky enough to use other peoples’ internet and get a book deal.