Friday, 26 November 2010

Behavioural Challenge No 1 - A week without money

My first behavioural challenge is to live without money for a week.

I will start from tomorrow,Saturday 27th November, International Buy Nothing Day 2010.

Why, i hear you ask?

Well, its simple really. I want to question the common idea that money and economic growth should be the focus of society's efforts. By living without money, I will be freed up to focus on the truly important things in life; such as friends, family, time, music, food.

The existence of money enables unethical consumption. Like the moneyless man, Mark Boyle, I believe that money creates distance between consumers and producers, and that it is easy for corruption to exist within this gap. It is difficult to make more ethical decisions when you're not confronted face to face with the effects of your decisions. For example, it is all too easy to go and buy something cheap in Primark without thinking too much about where your purchases have come from. However, would it be so easy to buy something if on going into the shop, you were confronted with children sewing all of your clothes together, for a pitiful wage and in awful working conditions?

The existence of money and oil allows long unsustainable production lines to exist, where consumers are far removed from the consequences of their purchases.

So how will I be living without money for a week?

For food, I will be either eating freegan food, or using up what's left in my cupboards.

In relation to shelter, I will continue to live in my current residence- a community centre where i volunteer my time and energy in exchange for rent.

In terms of travel, I will be going everywhere by foot or bike.

So, as of tomorrow, let the moneyless adventures begin!

Being the Change

"You must be the change you wish to see in the world." Mahatma Ghandi

This quote from Ghandi has inspired me to be the subject of my own behavioural experiments.

There are many scientific reasons why I should not be doing this. However, as I strongly believe that change must start from within, I have chosen to ignore those reasons.

My experiments therefore won't be experiments in the strict scientific sense of the word. Rather, I will be experimenting organically, with my own behavioural patterns, by setting myself rules, which I must adhere to for an assigned time period (usually 7 days). Current behavioural challenges that I have jotted down as possible experimentation options are as follows;

Eating food which fits in with the LOAF principles (local, organic, and fairtrade)
Walking everywhere
Not spending any money
No computer interaction for a week
Exercising 30 mins daily

The idea is that I will focus on one behavioural challenge each week, and write about my experiences of them as I go along.

My motivation for doing these challenges comes from the desire to live a more sustainable life. As a citizen of a consumer society I am constantly being told, both subliminally and consciously, how I should be behaving. And it is all to easy to get comfortable fitting in with the status quo. However, i feel strongly that the current status quo behaviour in Britain is not a sustainable option, and that it is doing more harm than good to consumers, producers, and the planet at large.

I am also very conscious of the fact that humans are for the large part creatures of habit, and that it is difficult to try and change lots of human behaviour at once. From what I have read and heard, I also know that addressing behavioural barriers is key to moving forward with the biggest isssues of our time: climate change and energy descent.

My aim is that these living experiments will not only help me form more sustainable behavioural patterns, but that they will also act as a source of inspiration for readers.

I hope you enjoy reading about these living experiments and I welcome any opinions you have on this matter.