Tuesday, 26 April 2016

How living moneyless can save the planet (TEDxTrondheim Open Mic Script)

Below is a slightly longer version of the script for my TEDxTrondheim Open Mic pitch - with links to corresponding blog posts with more information.


When I started my PhD in environmental psychology, I decided that just doing research was not enough. So I started a challenge: to live without spending any money (and without leeching off others). The idea was to find society’s leftovers – things that were no longer wanted or needed. Initially I wanted to try it for a year, because I didn’t even know if it was possible. But as I got started and got creative, it turned out that it was not only possible but also easy, because we live in quite a wasteful society. And it’s been so rewarding that I’ll definitely keep going.

So, how is it possible to live without money?
It's impossible to explain all the details of moneyless living in a short talk, but there is a lot of information about that on the blog. However, it is also impossible to give an exact recipe for moneyless living, because every place and situation is different and may require different solutions.
But I can give some general guidelines and share what worked for me. The most important thing is to be flexible and get creative in finding alternative ways to do things. That requires thinking outside the box (or outside the norm) and it often involves going back to basics; seeing how humanity used to do things, before we invented money. And also we can learn a lot from other animals, and nature in general.
Another important factor is that I always try to focus as much as I can on giving and contribution, and that becomes very easy - even second nature - when everything is free. I think humans are naturally giving, but it is our worries about the future and the money mindset of calculated exchange that restrict our generosity.
I have noticed that after living the moneyless life for a while, I am now less concerned with direct/conscious exchange, because I find there is something wrong with that kind of mindset. And that’s because it tends to get people to focus heavily on what they can get instead of what they can give. It gets you to focus on just doing enough instead of all the ways in which you can help others.
At the start of the challenge I got some barter deals where I did a direct exchange of goods or services, and my whole mind was focused on: If they do this for me, then what can I offer of equal value? It is exchange-thinking. This is what we are taught by using money. But if we get rid of that mindset, then all is left is we get offered something (or not), and we are always ready to serve and help. We can do more than required, because we are here and we are available to help. And if we see that our help is needed or desirable, then nothing stops us. We don’t need to measure our actions against what we are getting. We don’t need to worry about who is doing more. We simply help out where we can.

You may wonder how living moneyless helps the environment.
The biggest benefit to the earth is that I do not finance any corporations that contribute to the destruction of our planet. With every penny you spend you support more than just a product; you may support air pollution, water pollution, deforestation, climate change, and so on. And sometimes it is very difficult to know what you are supporting through purchases, because corporations are not exactly advertising the harm they are doing.
Another benefit for the earth is that I am producing zero waste. I even get to reduce waste by using some of it for myself, donating some to others and sorting out and recycling the rest. I also noticed I use far less resources such as water and electricity now that I am living in a tiny home.

But I have also benefited personally from the challenge, in many different ways.
For example, I realized that I really don’t need that much, and the less I have, the happier I am. Stuff complicates life. And all of the things I really need are freely available.
Also, when I started I got instantly more connected to the resources I use and what the earth is providing. Money can create the illusion that these things are not given. That we have to earn them somehow. That we even need to have a job to be able to fulfill some of our most basic needs. But this is not true! The sun shines for everyone. The trees provide fresh and clean air for everyone. Plants and food grow for everyone. We have invented a system that uses money, and it has removed us from the very obvious fact that everything we need is already given.
I also experienced how we are all connected. None of us lives in a bubble, so independence from others is an illusion and humans are also not separate from other beings. We are all part of the ecosystem. We are all affecting each other’s existence. And so each of us plays an important role in maintaining the balance. We can all choose to contribute to life and creation or death and destruction. And right now with the way our society is organized, most of us are contributing mostly to destruction. Instead I think our focus should be in helping each other thrive, because that is what makes us thrive. So I am here to support Life. And not just human life, but all life on earth.

Change starts with you
The final point I want to make is that change always needs to start with you. It cannot start with anyone else. So if you feel the world needs changing, then make the change.
It is easy to feel discouraged and overwhelmed at this point in time, because the destruction of the earth is happening at such a fast rate and we are with so many people contributing to it. It might make you feel like your efforts don’t really matter, but I am here to tell you that it does matter. We can all make a big difference by doing our part.
You may not want to give up money to save the planet. But giving up money is just one of many ways in which you can help the earth and support life. So find a way that works for you and take steps to create a better world today. We have been waiting long enough. The time for action is now.

Thank you.

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