Thursday, December 13, 2012

Dropping Out, Money Style

I just read Mark Sundeen's The Man Who Quit Money, about a guy (nicknamed Suelo, see his website or blog) who quit using money in 2000 and has lived mostly in a cave outside Moab, Utah since then. Suelo doesn't use money, and doesn't really barter either, he mostly just dumpster dives and accepts what is freely given. The book is maybe half about Suelo's spiritual quest that led him to the decision, and half about how he does it in practice and the adventures he's had along the way. Suelo was born in a fundamentalist family, and although now atheist, he is still very spiritual and talks about religion a lot. The pseudo-spiritual stuff wasn't my favorite, but the environmental and anti-corporate reasons behind Suelo's extreme freeganism I found quite interesting, and the author (a liberal environmentalist travel-writer with his own history of dirt-bagging) does a pretty great job of investigating the compromises he makes in his own modern life. He washes out and re-uses Ziploc bags, even though he's well aware that's not going to actually solve anything: not corporate greed, not poverty, not global warming. His therapist told him he should plant a garden. Apparently it helped.

on Moab (and another free spirit who lives there):
A bisexual dope-smoking Jack Mormon who speaks fluent German and whose passions included spelunking, choir, motorcycles, nude hiking, feminist literature, and classical piano might be hard-pressed to assimilate into even the most tolerant of communities: in a hick Utah mining town he was a clear outlier. But in Moab, nobody blinked an eye; they never did. Indeed, when I told locals that I was writing a book about a guy in a cave, they asked, "Which one?"
from a "Why Freegan?" pamphlet by a punk named koala:
There are two options for existence: 1) waste your life working to get money to buy things that you don't need and help destroy the environment or 2) live a full satisfying life, occasionally scavenging or working your self-sufficiency skills to get the food and stuff you need to be content, while treading lightly on the earth, eliminating waste, and boycotting everything.
 Obviously I'm sympathetic to a lot of this. That said, I am going to go to my office now. At least my job is teaching and research, and tonight I'll be taking public transit to go consume an experience (Of Montreal at the Trocadero, with Foxygen and French Horn Rebellion), and not purchasing more stuff I don't need.

As a friend said: "Yep."

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