There’s got to be more to life than carbon footprints, climate change and peak oil. The new design for society many of us want shouldn’t just be better for the environment, it should be a shedload more fun into the bargain. As Emma Goldman, a hugely influential early 20th-century political philosopher and activist, once said: “If I can’t dance, I don’t want to be part of your revolution.”
If life doesn’t inspire me to get up and do a little Irish jig every morning before breakfast, what the hell is the point of it?
Living without money and having a great time are by no means mutually exclusive. If anything, it wasn’t until I gave up using money in November 2008 that I started to really enjoy life, not just two-sevenths of it. In hindsight, my old Groundhog Weekend was incredibly boring – mundanely going for a few drinks to the pub, a nice restaurant or to see a movie at the cinema. Worse still, spending 3.8 hours of each precious day – or an entire 11 years of my time on this planet – watching TV. Where’s the adventure in any of that?
Necessity really is the mother of invention. Instead of going for a pint, why not make your own booze? Organise a day out with friends foraging wild apples for cider – any variety will do – but the sweeter the better (Jonagolds and Red Delicious are perfect). Ideally find some windfalls, as these have natural yeasts already on them, meaning that apples are the only ingredient you’ll need. If you see any neighbours with unused apple trees, don’t be afraid to ask if you can do the work for them; you can always surprise them with a share once its made. Alternatively, grow your own hops, check out some recipes on Self-sufficientish, and forage your own flavourings (such as yarrow) before brewing your own beer.
Now you’ve got your alcohol supply, you’re going to want to party. Anyone can organise a house party, but these often just end up pissing off the neighbours. Getting them involved is a much better idea, and instead of making sworn enemies you’ll make a load of friends.
One of my favourite organisations for this are Streetsalive, who will guide you through the process of organising the mother of all street parties, and can often even help you to get your council to agree to close your road for the day.
Being moneyless in the winter can seem really unappealing to most people, I admit, but you’d have to be bonkers to at least not try it – even for a week – in the summer. Long evenings walking in the woods, camping by the beach at the weekend, cooking food al fresco that you’ve grown and picked yourself, cycling, playing – or listening to – acoustic music by a camp fire, wandering in the wilds foraging berries and nuts, skinny-dipping in the lake and sleeping under the stars.
If you like art, there are always free exhibitions in and around big towns and cities. Some even have a free bar – this doesn’t fit in with the philosophy of the Freeconomy community, however, so go easy on it. If movies are more your thing, there really is no need to go to the cinema (except to watch mindless Hollywood crap). I live near Bristol and there are constantly free films night showing online movies such as Money as Debt or Earthlings. If they aren’t happening where you live, why not organise one yourself? They’re a great way of sharing information and getting like-minded people together.
Music is my thing, so I often go along to free open-mic nights at a local venue. These events are not just great entertainment but a wonderful way to support new local talent playing acoustic music. If you are even slightly musically-gifted, work up the courage and get on stage yourself.
And instead of watching the TV, turn off the light, stick on a few beeswax candles (from local bees, of course, who haven’t been fed sugar), and fritter the hours away making love. It increases your health, will strengthen your relationship and is infinitely more pleasurable than EastEnders. If you’re single, abandon fear and ask the one you’ve got your eye on to come out for a wild food forage. Who cares if you don’t know your ramsons from your rosehips, you’ll have them exactly where you want them: in the bush.
So if you were thinking of doing something nice and comfortable this weekend, shame on you. Put your credit card away (better still, cut it up), dust off your tent, get on your bike and go and put the adventure back in your life.
• Mark Boyle is the founder of the Freeconomy Community and has lived moneyless for the last 19 months. His book, The Moneyless Man, is out now, published by Oneworld – sales from the book will go to a charitable trust for the Freeconomy Community.