Mark Boyle chose to go without money for three years. Now he has begun a community smallholding that is as cash-free as possible – and is opening the world’s first free pub
Mark Boyle proved how, in a world dominated by money, he could live in Britain surviving entirely without cash – by bartering, swapping and connecting with local communities. And after three years, what was his first cash purchase? A £4 pair of trainers from a charity shop.
“It was such a weird moment. Living without money had eventually become completely normal for me, and there I was standing in a charity shop handing over a piece of paper and walking out with this really useful pair of runners. It felt as strange as giving it up in the first place had,” he says.
Boyle is the unlikely hero among those who feel consumerism in the west is running out of control. His 2010 book, The Moneyless Man, which sold more than 75,000 copies in 17 countries, not only showed that it was entirely possible to survive in Britain without ever touching cash, but also offered an alternative way to lead a more sustainable life.
He restored and lived in an abandoned caravan, and cycled everywhere. By using a combination of bartering, swapping or gifting his time, and foraging for food – both in hedgerows and supermarket bins – he demonstrated that one could thrive, while at the same time reconnecting with local communities.
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