Freeconomics and Mark Boyle, The Moneyless Man

I just finished reading Mark Boyle’s book The Moneyless Man and found it hugely inspiring. Mark was an economics graduate and businessman who discovered Ghandi. Ghandhi’s “Be the change you wish to see in the world” became the ethos by which he began to live and Mark started a Freeconmic movement, one in which members gave freely to those in need. This movement operates in over 150 countries around the world in town and city communities. The Freeconomic Movement operates on a Pay-It-Forward ethos. As he puts it in his speech (linked below) “For thousands of years we have been looking at life through a lens of “What can I take”. Imagine on a table in front of you there are different lens and we take off our old and put on a new one of “What can I give?”

“Imagine a world where we can give without expectation of receiving anything in return to someone who needs help.”

From an ecological viewpoint Mark discusses the toll consumerism has taken on the planet, the wasteful nature of it. In the UK 1/3 of all food traded through supermarkets etc is wasted, thrown out by either the stores or the consumer – much of this food imported from all around the world just to be dumped. Much of this food is grown by poorer countries who use low paid workers to produce it, the expense of getting it to our shops/homes grows with every step of the journey not only adding to the cost of the product but it takes a toll environmentally…then so much of it is dumped. The same could be said for many of our purchases which end up in landfills sooner or later.

From a humanitarian viewpoint, how much food, warm clothing, furniture etc is dumped when so many have so little and go hungry, not in only third world countries but in our own?


In late 2008 Mark made a commitment to try living one year without money. He advertised on Freecycle for something he could live in and was given an old caravan, he made a rocket stove to cook on. He found an organic farmer who was willing to let him live in a small area in return for some work. He dug a hole to use as a loo, surrounded it with a makeshift tent he could also use as a camp shower. He also was given a fire and used waste wood to heat his caravan. He used an old bike to get around or walked many miles many days. He grew his own food, foraged and went skip diving. He talks of feasts him and his friends threw for up to 1500 people on waste from supermarkets, donations from many different sources (though I expect his profile in the area possibly helped alot there) He not only survived the in the year but at the end of his time realised how much happier he was, that he was a better person for it and decided to stay. The proceeds from his book are going towards land for a Freeconomy Community to set up their own place and this will not be a closed community but an open one.

Few of us would be willing or feel able to give up money, for those who would like to he shows it’s possible. But I found him inspiring for many reasons …he puts his money (or lack of!) where his mouth is, he fosters generosity rather than greed, he raises awareness of all sorts of ecological and society issues, he is a man who has taken up the “Be the change you wish to see in the world” challenge and run with it expecting nothing in return. His Freeconomy communities run much like Freecycle, people can advertise for stuff they need whether it be a lift somewhere, a couch to sleep on, tools, food…whatever. People can trade good for services or skills or just give freely. I am seriously considering starting one up here in our town but it does need thinking about. There will always be the takers who use something like this the wrong way, there is always potential for not so nice people in society to take advantage but… there are alot of good reasons to do this too. Many years ago I belonged to a Green Dollar Community where people traded skills and items with others expecting they in turn will recive what they need from others. I became very frustrated by doing alot of work for others who weren’t prepared to do their bit in return. This is different, there is no expectation here that you will receive anything in return, only that those you give to may one day pay-it-forward. People can get together to hold book or clothing swaps, family days etc. As an introvert I find this idea a bit scary 🙂 as a person who does care about the effect poverty has on people and communities I think it’s a brilliant idea. Anyway….bears some consideration.


 To watch Mark Boyle’s talk on Ted X see here It runs for 15 minutes. Or an article he did for The Huffington Post here

The Sydney Morning Herald did an article on the rise of this in Australia while people are finding things tough and it appears to be successful and well used.


Pathological consumption

A great article on Whole Larder Love I found really interesting and other’s might (Thinking of you Jess). Rowan has a great blog on living off the land. The writer here discusses the behaviour of novelty gift buying for the people who already have “everything”. My thoughts are what a difference it would make if those loved ones were bought something from local artists or producers instead – handmade soap, chutney or even a basket of nice breads etc would be preferable to me that any “novelty item.


By George Monbiot, published in the Guardian 11 December 2012

There’s nothing they need, nothing they don’t own already, nothing they even want. So you buy them a solar-powered waving queen; a belly button brush; a silver-plated ice cream tub holder; a “hilarious” inflatable zimmer frame; a confection of plastic and electronics called Terry the Swearing Turtle; or – and somehow I find this significant – a Scratch Off World wall map.

They seem amusing on the first day of Christmas, daft on the second, embarrassing on the third. By the twelfth they’re in landfill. For thirty seconds of dubious entertainment, or a hedonic stimulus that lasts no longer than a nicotine hit, we commission the use of materials whose impacts will ramify for generations.

Researching her film The Story of Stuff, Annie Leonard discovered that of the materials flowing through the consumer economy, only 1% remain in use six months after sale(1). Even the goods we might have expected to hold onto are soon condemned to destruction through either planned obsolescence (breaking quickly) or perceived obsolesence (becoming unfashionable).

But many of the products we buy, especially for Christmas, cannot become obsolescent. The term implies a loss of utility, but they had no utility in the first place. An electronic drum-machine t-shirt; a Darth Vader talking piggy bank; an ear-shaped i-phone case; an individual beer can chiller; an electronic wine breather; a sonic screwdriver remote control; bacon toothpaste; a dancing dog: no one is expected to use them, or even look at them, after Christmas Day. They are designed to elicit thanks, perhaps a snigger or two, and then be thrown away…. Read more here: Whole Larder Love



My son shared this on Facebook today. My son hates his job, he has been working for the same company for 18 years having worked his way up from a junior position, working now as an area manager for a boss he can’t stand. He doesn’t read my blog, (neither does his boss) so hopefully doesn’t find out I have been talking about him behind his back… I shall keep him identity-less! He stays there because in our small area this job provides security and decent wages which he needs now because he has family. This post is not to discuss him so much as dissatisfaction in our lives. I am not knocking the above, some thrive in big cities with well paying jobs and holidays to relax into. Not knocking it at all. This is not my life and I am happy for that, my way is not other’s way and their’s is not mine, we are all different.

But seeing this set me off on a tangent (as is my way!) How many of us fall into the lives we have, no conscious decisions made, we just live them. We do our 9 – 5, struggle to pay our bills, do whatever to make ends meet, many lucky to even get a holiday!!! My life is far from this picture above but today I was walking around with a mumbling going on deep down, feeling crabby and distracted. When I read this I laughed it off, made a joke, yep that’s life. Later on when thinking about it and thinking about the dissatisfaction with life some must feel, I recognised my own.

Roger and I have been discussing a few things recently, much of it centres around nooses we have around our neck – mortgages, insurances etc. We are very lucky to have our own home but fact is the bank owns half of it. It’s unstable times, if the economy gets worse (a possibility) there is no guarantee we could even keep it. Both of us have to work and there is never any money left after mortgage, rates, big insurances, utilities, the costs of running vehicles to get to work etc etc. There are no holidays bar a quick weekend away. We would quite like a new normal even though we are far from normal. We have spent 7 years here, we do what we do because we need to, we love our home and garden but there are problems here. Our neighbourhood has gone from a quiet country one where everyone got on fine to one where we are growing a high front hedge to keep away from. We walk through the gate and sigh. Glad to get home from work, because let’s admit it, work is not always fun! but no longer enjoying our situation of where we live. We are virtually surrounded by transient vineyard workers, loud parties and arguments, lousy attitudes, gang members wearing patches etc are the norm here now. I don’t want to sound judgmental here, that’s not really my thing, live and let live. But….we are living in a different environment from that which we moved into – we have escaped town to have it follow us! I went down the shop the other day, drove, and pulled up at a give way. An error in judgment in driving by someone else had her glaring at me and yelling “You stupid f….bitch” at me through car windows. Roger was out mowing the front berm when a car full of young guys pulled up beside him and a pile of rubbish thrown out the window by his feet before they drove off laughing…apparently that was really funny!

What we have been thinking is to move, there are other towns over the west coast of the island which are really cheap, we COULD be mortgage free. We could live in a more settled area. We could leave our home and garden. We could invite my son and fiance to join us, how nice that would be – or leave them behind because they have different ideals. We could live in a wee structure and get more land. Could… maybe…..!!!

So, this is where my mind is at this morning. Dissatisfaction, with everything we thought we were doing right not feeling so right. It’s led me to think of others, human nature, why we are so stuck in our ways doing nothing to change them, why we live lives we aren’t really happy with. Why we complain so much and don’t just feel grateful for what we DO have 🙂 Why people don’t just live lives they love in order to conform, then how hard it is to get unstuck because we have families to support, expectations,bills etc. Then the fact there are homeless people who would be grateful for anything, the fact transient workers have to live somewhere and are probably all very nice people even if some seem a little aggressive at times lol. Giving away eggs and veges over the fence doesn’t seem to work anymore in helping neighbourly connections.

Happiness and what it takes to make ourselves happy, in our own individual and sometimes different ways, seems to be hard to find. I don’t think wanting happiness is a selfish thing, shouldn’t it be the norm? There’s only so much TIME in life with which to find happiness….if only we could bottle time.

An oldy, Jim Croce – Time in a Bottle

Anyways, my rambling for today is true rambling! Now I have to go and get the carpet shampoo unit from the shop and clean my carpets, probably the real reason for my grumpy mood today! Sometimes I think it would be nice to not be broke, you could pay to have your carpets cleaned. Maybe we just need better jobs, more money…. holidays……..! 🙂

Simplicity in the Making; Guest post and giveaway

I wanted to share this guest post at Simply Free. Both this blog and the blog of her guest Handcrafted Travellers are just wonderful. This bright young couple share a lovely life of simple living that is just so right. I am excited to say I just won their giveaway, an e-course in Everyday Simplicity. Am very excited and heartfelt thanks to Roland, Cheryl and Lois for making it possible. Please do check out their site, it’s simply hours of very gentle reading that will reasonate with many of my readers.

Food Anarchy

Smart thinking from a funny lady, I just love this.

My Watering Can

The GMO labeling fight is raging, but one has to wonder, if you don’t buy processed foods and grow a lot of your own, you can avoid these kinds of shenanigans. Personally, I try to avoid most things that are GMO foods these days anyway. I do hope it becomes a law, but in the meantime, for your viewing pleasure…. I posted this from Youtube (so no it’s not me in the video)

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Thoughts At The Supermarket

This original article linked through this worthy post is so worth a look. It’s just crazy – non-food food.

Awesome Åshild

I was going to share some of my day with you from yesterday today, but I came across this article on my morning browse over a cup of coffee (iced of course, when in Greece..) and decided this is so much more important.

I have thought these thoughts so many times when going to the local supermarket on Sundays for my weekly shop. The 2 litre bottles of soft drinks and the half a kilo chocolate bars are being pumped on the end of the isles, with promises of happiness, consert tickets, winnning a trip to paradise and meeting your footy hero. And at the checkout you will find even more sugar PLUS (and this is the big plus) all the magazines you need to deal with it all. I have described my love for magazines to you earlier, and this is no better. All the magazines you can…

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Making do….and doing without.

One could actually argue that things like toilet bowl cleaner and bathroom deodorisers are not actually necessities in life but in the interest of modesty and sensory comfort these things are nice to have. I have always bought these things on special and stocked up a little, I am running out of stuff like this now. As our grocery budget is down to very little I don’t want to buy these sorts of products, to all intents and purposes they are not necessary items. Every week I am coming across little things like this and make decisions whether to go without or make something myself. These from last week:

Toilet Duck: Generally the only other cleaning solution I use is vinegar with a small squirt of detergent but toilet cleaner seemed a bit different. Stuck with an empty bottle I decided I could make something….water, vinegar, baking soda, a little detergent and a few drops of tea tree oil. Guess who spent ages filling a bottle with a weird neck with a funnel, turning it this way and that till finally had 3/4 bottle and was satisfied. Only then did I decide I didn’t need the stupid bottle anyway and any old bottle would’ve sufficed! This worked really well, is nice, fresh, clean – but shouldn’t have been shaken at the end because the baking soda and vinegar frothed up in the bottle. A totally different method is called for next time lol. Mix in a jug and use a different bottle.

Bathroom spray deodoriser: Over the years I have collected odd used bottles of essential oils when I’ve seen them in thrift shops and garage sales for nix so I have a wee stock of them. I filled the spray bottle with water, added a nice mix of oils (violet, rose and lemongrass) in just tiny amounts so not overpowering, and a teaspoon of glycerin which acts as an emulsifier. Very pretty scent, it’s natural and actually hangs around alot longer than anything else I used.

ANTS!! We have never had ants, ever. So last week when I saw a few on the bench I thought they had just come in on something from the garden and wasn’t concerned. The next morning I was horrified to see a small army of them on the bench AND through the dehydrator full of dried figs I hadn’t emptied the night before. Ew! and blast them, what a waste. Google solves all problems and I found two solutions. Spray with white vinegar because ants sniff out their trails to return somewhere and put little piles of cornflour (cornstarch) around, they will eat it, take it back to their nest and it kills them. I haven’t seen any since…which is really good because I tend to get phobic about yucky things eg flies (ants as it turns out!) around food. Which reminds me of a problem we had with a field mouse when we first came here. I cannot stand spiders but think mice are pretty cute as long as they don’t live in my house and I don’t have to handle them. So when we had one living in our kitchen my answer was to get a humane trap…. at $11 this was alot dearer than any alternative method for extinction. For two weeks the mouse would eat anything in it and just wonder in and out of it at his leisure, it wouldn’t work. In the end I was getting so wound up about a mouse in my pantry I bought a trap. 10 minutes after setting it it went off, mouse caught and me (the oh, so humane one) dancing around the kitchen with glee saying “I finally caught the little b……d!!”

Dog biscuits: We needed some, I had veges in the fridge that needed using so made my own. They get meat so these just need to supplement and will now be a regular thing, they loved them.

Hot water cylinder insulation: We had been discussing the need to get our power bill lower and insulating the hot water tank. The cheapest we could find was over $90 but we had half a bag of ceiling batts leftover so that’s where they have gone. Incidentally, we paid $50 to insulate our ceiling with recycled batts….a guy Roger knew was collecting them as he helped demolish a house and selling them for extra money.

Glasshouse 🙂 After 2 years of collecting windows and materials Roger spent the weekend building a glasshouse for the grand cost of $22 (two little windows purchased) and after alot of hours, banging, sawing and expletives, it’s finally together,  it just needs painting now and I think it’s pretty sweet….and I’m pretty impressed with my husbands tenacity in doing all this with a yucky cold!!

I finished work about 5 weeks ago and money is definately getting alot tighter. We have chosen to do this which makes it rather alot different to those who simply have no choice about being broke. We realised it would be a challenge but we were up for it. Still are, we are liking it this way but I must admit to a fair few moments of sheer anxiety as I realise there is no money for any little transgressions off our path – and what if…?! We really need some savings, there are no credit cards, no nothing. On a very mediocre one wage there is a need to be really vigilant about spending, we find we are thinking about things in different ways. Example, $2.20 TV guide that just goes in the trolley every week. It’s only $2.20 but for $105.00 approx a year do we really need one, I don’t think so and why the hell was I still buying it when we have cut down on so much else!? Everything’s a mindset. I don’t NEED a gardener magazine once a month because we know how to garden and have a computer, I still have to argue myself out of the habit of just grabbing one because that’s always been a treat for me. At $9 that’s $108.00 a year. Little things mount up, 10 little things is alot of money. I occasionally like a glass of wine but go through most weeks going without….but another week it matters and I’ll buy a cheap bottle of wine because I deserve a b….y wine once in a while! We live 26 km from town and I go once a week only, $10 for gas is better than $20. It’s made me really aware of all the extra little things we spend money on when we have it that we don’t need, especially if there two income earners. We always had one takeaway meal a week, chinese or similar but not now….that’s almost our grocery allowance.

We don’t feel deprived of anything, we are doing just fine. Our needs are being met and that’s alot more than many can say. There is a difference choosing the option of going without as a lifestyle and having it forced on one by necessity! We are both very grateful for the opportunity to be able to do this, our lives are alot richer for it and I truly mean that. This year has been about working towards a goal of being able to live on the bare minimum we could – I guess most people would call that very weird. We will make the choices that enable us to do it – such as not needing a TV guide when we have a ‘master remote controller and flicker-arounder’ in the house 🙂 At the end of the day we don’t even NEED the TV, do we, let alone a magazine to tell us what c..p is on it for our viewing pleasure.

The Symphony – William Channing

My friend sent me this today – I rather love it and thought I would share 🙂
“To live content with small means….
To seek elegance rather than luxury,
and refinement rather than fashion….
To be worthy, not respectable, and wealthy,not rich;
To study hard, think quietly, talk gently, act frankly….
To listen to stars and birds, to babes and sages, with open heart….
To bear all cheerfully, do all bravely, await occasions, hurry never…..
In a word, to let the spiritual unbidden and unconscious grow up through the common….
This is to be my symphony.”
William Henry Channing