Mark, an Irish man who studied Business and Economics with the initial plan of earning a lot of money throughout his career, came across the quote by Mahatma Gandhi ‘Be the change you wish to see in the world.’ He wasn’t sure exactly what that change would be, and set out to discover it.
After working in organic farm management for six years in England, Mark came to the conclusion that “money…. creates a kind of disconnection between us and our actions.” He successfully set up the Freeconomy Community under the website www.justfortheloveofit.org It shares similarities with websites such as The Freecycle Network and Streetbank, where members can share skills and tools for free.
As well as each-other, Mark believed that money distorts our relationship with the natural world. This gave him the impetus to embark on a social experiment to live without money for a year. Before doing so, he purchased a bike, a solar panel for his caravan and made himself a wood-burning stove. Mark closed all of his bank accounts so as to rid himself of a safety net. This way, he could truly get the benefits from his experiment by living every day moment-to-moment, day-to-day.
The year-long experiment turned into three years. During this time Mark grew his own vegetables and foraged for food in cities by raiding skips outside large supermarkets. He used his bike for transport and accepted lifts from people, but only if they were going that way already. Wood was collected to fire the stove and a compost toilet was used outside. Newspapers were donated for toilet paper and Mark shared a very funny story with us about having an unusual opportunity of “wiping my bum with an article of myself in the paper. I looked down and saw a photo of me, to my surprise. Not many people can say they’ve done this!”
Since Mark began on his journey he has written two books. The first – The Moneyless Man – A year of Freeconomic Living – is a personal story of his first year living without money. His second book The Moneyless Manifesto goes deeper into the reasons why Mark made the decision to go moneyless, and his philosophy developed along the way. He also offers creative and practical solutions on how we can live more, with less.
Today, Mark lives in Galway and is in the process of setting up a community project in an old pig farm which will be named The Happy Pig. Here they will offer a free space for teaching eco learning and permaculture principles. They hope to attract some of the worlds best speakers. In addition, Mark aims to use this space for events such as music, dance and storytelling, with the main focus on community and bringing people together.