BY: TED BARNABY
Mark Boyle is one of the only men on earth who can claim an entirely money-free life—at least for a few years. Boyle’s moneyless journey began in 2008, spending the next two years living completely self-sustainably. He has since become renowned under the title of “The Moneyless Man”, receiving much attention from major news outlets, subsequently becoming a regular contributor to The Guardian, as well as completing a number of books and preforming a TED talk.
However, Boyle wasn’t always intent on the moneyless lifestyle, which only began to take shape during his last year of university, at the Galway-Mayo Institute of Technology, where he studied business. It was this year that he watched the movie Gandhi, commonly referring to this viewing as a pivotal moment in his life, inspiring him to “be the change you want to see in the world.” If he didn’t see this movie, Boyle contends, he would probably be out running a financially successful business and contributing to the exact problem he intends to ease today.
In fact, before giving up monetary life all together, Boyle spent a few years managing organic food companies, but soon got fed up with the inability to combine ecology and ethics with business. Sitting down with a friend to discuss the problems of the world and possible solutions, Boyle realized that assessing and combating the world’s largest issues requires a leader, not a repairman.
One of Boyle’s major concerns is the divide between consumers, and the circumstances from which their products are born. He believes that money puts up the barrier, which allows the indirect consequences of our consumerism to remain out of sight and out of mind.
In order to eliminate the oversea repercussions of his own life, for two years Boyle lived in a caravan, cooked outside on a rocket stove, and resourced his food by foraging, growing, bartering, or dumpster diving—though according to Boyle, the majority of his diet came from self-grown crops. Even his electronics were run off solar power. Boyle also made his own toothpaste out of cuttlefish bone that washed up on shore combined with fennel seeds, he washed himself in a nearby river using homemade soap derived from a soapwort plant, and used newspaper as a substitute for toilet paper. His bathroom also doubled as a compost heap to cultivate “humanure.”
The moneyless man foraging for food
Although Boyle has since returned from the wild, he’s maintained a low-impact lifestyle and mentality. One of his recent projects was the building of a passive-solar house (straw bale, timber frame) in Devon, UK, which is entirely funded by his books’ revenues. He’s never lost sight of the money-free life, stating that he hopes to return to these conditions as soon as possible.
Having lived an experience that most of us only dream to venture, Boyle had this to say to The Guardian, “What have I learned? That friendship, not money, is real security. That most western poverty is of the spiritual kind. That independence is really interdependence…. People often ask me what I miss about my old world of lucre and business. Stress. Traffic jams. Bank statements. Utility bills.”