#15: We all live moneyless

For Mark Boyle, who lived without money for four years, money is a wedge that separates us from the consequences of our actions – and he’s not just talking about material goods.

“For the first time I experienced how connected and interdependent I was on the people and natural world around me. More than anything else, I discovered that my security no longer lay in my bank account, but in the strength of my relationships with the people, plants and animals around me.”

I’ve only been living moneyless for a week, and in a very limited fashion, but I felt exactly the same. As Mark says, “My character replaced sterling as my currency.” Continue reading #15: We all live moneyless

#14: Money is waste

After a week of living moneyless, I’ve decided I need a new definition of money. The current economic system in the UK, and many other places around the world, creates an abundance, an excess of all kinds of consumer products, from food and clothes to technology and even shelter. All these things are created for sale and you can buy them with money.

But because of the excess, you can also acquire these things for nothing, by intercepting them at the point of waste disposal, either after the consumer has tired of them or before they reach the market simply because they are part of that essential excess built into the system. Continue reading #14: Money is waste

#13: Money is not generosity

I first heard of London’s New Covent Garden Market five years ago. A couple of people I lived with sometimes cycled there on their way home after all night raves, coming home with heaps of free fresh food and stories of being run down by pallet truck drivers and robbed by security guards. Continue reading #13: Money is not generosity

#12: Supermarket choice is terrible!

My local Sainsbury’s has more than thirty aisles; my greengrocer has just two. There is, without a doubt, a heck of a lot more choice at a supermarket than at a corner shop, but I wanted to know exactly how much more choice.

So I went to Sainsbury’s, clipboard once again in hand to do a choice case study on just one foodstuff: soup. Continue reading #12: Supermarket choice is terrible!

#11: Supermarkets aren’t cheap

One of the biggest myths perpetuated by supermarkets is that they offer “everyday value” to the customer through their extensive promotions, multi-buy deals and discounts.

The myth isn’t that supermarkets don’t run these formidable promotions: researchers found that more than half the food sold in supermarkets during 2015 was “on special”. No, the myth is that these promotions offer great value to the customer. Continue reading #11: Supermarkets aren’t cheap

#10: Supermarkets aren’t convenient

We think we’re in charge when we walk through the supermarket sliding doors, but that’s naive. Be in no doubt: when we enter the gleaming aisles, we’re entering a fully immersive, three dimensional, 360 degree, multi-sensory marketing experience. Every last element has been fine-tuned to nudge us into making just one more purchase.

The question we should be asking ourselves is not whether or not supermarkets are convenient, but more for whom are they convenient: us or them? Continue reading #10: Supermarkets aren’t convenient

#9: Phones make you dumb, dissatisfied and dangerous

When we get our phones out while talking with friends, our relationship suffers. So why are we tempted?

The answer is brutal: we’re looking for something better. We’re subconsciously wondering whether there’s something else more important going on right now. Continue reading #9: Phones make you dumb, dissatisfied and dangerous

#8: Getting your phone out makes your conversations shit

In a 2012 study, Andrew K. Przybylski and Netta Weinstein of the University of Essex found that the mere presence of a mobile phone during a face-to-face conversation between two people “inhibited the development of interpersonal closeness and trust, and reduced the extent to which individuals felt empathy and understanding from their partners”. Continue reading #8: Getting your phone out makes your conversations shit

#7: Energy needed for a year’s supply of smartphones = 3,700 Hiroshima atomic bombs

That fairly bad-taste headline pretty much says it all. In 2015, the planet was farmed for 1.4 billion smartphones and the energy required to produce them all was equivalent to the energy released from more than 3,700 Hiroshima atomic bombs. Continue reading #7: Energy needed for a year’s supply of smartphones = 3,700 Hiroshima atomic bombs

#6: TV adverts are awesome

That is not a title I ever thought I’d publish. But it’s true – TV adverts are awesome, or they can be. And when they’re awesome, they can help heal our time-harried sense of modernity – the problem of fast-walking Irishmen having heart attacks.

Awe is described by psychologists Dacher Keltner and Jonathan Haidt as being “in the upper reaches of pleasure and on the boundary of fear”. We feel awe when we encounter something so strikingly vast or complex that it forces us to change our understanding of the world – and sometimes the course of our entire lives. Continue reading #6: TV adverts are awesome