This is a great story of Katharine Hibbert who quit her job and entire life to go and live without money for a year. She became a squatter, sneaking into disused buildings and setting up home. She got all the food she needed from bins, she found more than she could eat. She lived with a community of other squatters that all looked out for each other, they were there to help out at any time whenever she needed it. Katherine even traveled around Europe and spent just about £50, but even that was optional treats. She hitched rides onto the ferry across from England and then hitched rides all around Europe. She dispelled the myth that you need money to travel. Here’s what I learnt from it:
1. As a nation we need to be far less wasteful. Every year England wastes 20 million tonnes of food, 7 million of which comes from households. 1/3 of the food we buy ends up in the bin. There is enough wasted food that the thousands of squatters in London have too much to eat. It is ridiculous that we should throw away so much edible food whilst people in less fortunate countries are dying from hunger, we bathe in excess whilst they die from a lack off. So be conservative with the food you throw away, buy only what you need and reduce the demand.
2. We should behave more communally. Katherine talks of how squatters were like an old-fashioned tight nit community, favours were given in return for favours not money. The more fortunate would help the less fortunate without asking for anything in return. This is how we should be, the world at the moment is very selfish, everyone is always thinking ‘how can I benefit from this?’ It is very rare to find a truly altruistic person, are obsession with money has taken us so far from our roots. In the squatting community where money is stripped away they live life by helping each other out, by being friendly and altruistic. It seems a much happier way to be.
Katherine preferred the communal feel of squatting life to her old life. As a society we have grown very distant from strangers, we avoid new people more than we do search them out. Katherine talks of how being a squatter helped her get over her fear of strangers, she had to squat with people she would usually shy away from, people who were heavily tattooed and rough-looking. She quickly realised that appearances are deceiving, people are nicer than you may think. So next time you see someone looking different to your current group of friends don’t just assume they are going to mug you, make friends with new and unique people, you may find them interesting.
3. Never stop progressing. Katherine once got into a great squat where life was easy for her, she had electric, good friends and a garden. She only had to go out looking for food for a couple of hours a day and she could relax for the rest of the time. She had the retired lifestyle. But she didn’t feel fulfilled, she’d find her self bored and depressed by the end of each day. So, she went out and started working on a park project where she and some other squatters were making some derelict land into a nice community park for families. As humans we will never be content with an easy life,we need challenge to give our life some excitement. So don’t set your end goal as being an easy life, it won’t be as good as you think. Look for challenges that you enjoy and you will feel a greater sense of fulfilment.
Want to read the book for yourself? Here you go:
Image credit: Jes Bin Noir Flickr