Image credit: The Guardian
Whenever we write about the money-free adventures of Mark Boyle, and his efforts to promote what he calls a Freeconomy community, responses are inevitably split between those who find it an inspiring example of at least trying to tackle consumption, and those who see it as nothing more than idealistic self-promotion. Now The Guardian has gone to visit Mark on the farm where he has parked his trailer, went dumpster diving with him, and they took their video camera along for the ride. Predictably, the responses at The Guardian's site are equally divided—but say what you like about Mark, he makes an eloquent case for the insane waste inherent in our current economic and social systems.Sadly we can't embed The Guardian's video content, but their dumpster diving trip with the no-money man is well worth a watch. Among other things, he demonstrates his cuttle fish toothpaste (yes, really!), explains how and why he got his solar panel (indeed, that did involve money), and he takes The Guardian correspondent on a dumpster diving mission. (See this short documentary for more on the art of free food.)
For me, the value in Mark's efforts is highlighted in the last minute or so of the video. Having shown just how hard it is to do many of the normal things without money, Mark shows the correspondent a perfectly good bag of carrots he has liberated from a dumpster. It goes without saying that Mark owes his money-free existence to the waste generated by a cash economy, and that this is hardly a viable model for mainstream lifestyles—but that's precisely the point. As Mark points out, in a sane economy those carrots would not be in that dumpster. A skilled green grocer would take one look at them and say they have another week or two left in them. And Mark would just have to find another way of feeding himself.
But as long as there is waste, there are those who can live off that waste. And I for one thank them for showing us resources where others see nothing but trash, and opportunities where others see problems.