Building a Home With Zero Money: Impossible?

brighton earthship photo

Image credit: Dominic Alves/Creative Commons

A seasoned dumpster diver who lived without cash for a year, Mark Boyle—aka the Moneyless Man—knows more than most about getting by without money. Having explored how to travel without cash, he's now tackling an even trickier subject—is it possible to build a home without money? The answer is a resounding yes... in theory. Writing over at The Guardian, Mark asks whether sustainable housing can be built without spending a penny. Exploring everything from India's land-gift movement, to Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall's Landshare project, Mark identifies many opportunities for at least beginning to rethink our relationship with land as property. (Whether you think that's a good idea will depend on your political persuasion.) But ultimately, he concedes, it is hard to build a home without making at least a one off payment to "free a piece of enslaved land from the wage economy". (His words, not mine!)

Nevertheless, once you do manage to secure a piece of land there are plenty of opportunities to build low-cost, maybe even free, sustainable homes from waste materials. Looking at everything from strawbale homes to Earthships, it's clear that human creativity, hard work and a little scavenging can go a long way to replacing cash for those who are so inclined.

As always, I'm sure Mark's exploits will annoy some on the more mainstream end of the eco-modernity versus green traditionalism spectrum. But whether you believe, as Mark does, that money is a destructive influence on our lives—or whether you just think we'd be better off if we all had a few more skills, and a little more resillience, up our sleeves—it seems obvious to me that the Moneyless Man's efforts are, once again, a good reminder that there's more than one way to skin a (presumably free) cat.

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