Imagine living a life completely outside of mainstream consumer society. Imagine no job, no bills, no going shopping. Imagine a life with no money.
Mark Boyle doesn’t have to imagine. That’s because, for the past year, he’s been living in a caravan, working the earth, using cuttlefish bone and fennel seeds to brush his teeth, and blogging on his solar-powered laptop. And — crazy as it may sound — he’s done all of this on purpose.
“I planned everything carefully so it’s not like it came as a shock,” says Boyle, who founded the online Freeconomy Community — www.justfortheloveofit.org — to document his economic rebellion. “I needed to reconnect with the things I consumed in order to see their repercussions.”
Frustrated with modern life, Boyle followed the obvious course of action: He moved into a caravan (on the organic farm where he was volunteering), canceled all his contracts — his cell phone is geared to only receive incoming calls — and started a Web site.
“I got a lot of criticism for the laptop,” he says “but it was a no-win situation. It’s ironic, but I couldn’t communicate without it.”
Nowadays, a typical day for Boyle involves foraging for nettle leaves to make tea, cooking on a stove made out of rocks and 45-minute workouts using a breeze bloc. Yes, living a life without cash does, indeed, takes its toll.
“The hardest thing is the impact on my social life,” Boyle says. “as not having money isn’t great for female partners or friends.”
His year without cash officially ends Nov. 28 but Boyle has no intention of stopping. “My experience has reinforced my belief that I could do it. The consumer is the most powerful person on the planet right now.”