Apart from walking barefoot, the next step down on my POP model would be to make your own shoes. One simple solution is a pair of flip flops whose sole is cut out of an old car tyre (you can cut it around the shape of your foot). This sole can be clad with previously-loved carpet, and the straps made from melted and reformed plastic bags.(197) I wore something to this effect for many years, replacing the plastic bag straps with old bicycle tubes.
However, flip-flops, especially ones made from the detritus of the transport industry, are hardly ideal for all occasions. For something a bit more protective and strong, why not make a pair of my favourite moneyless shoes, the Dutch wooden clog. These have long been associated with farmers and workers because of their protective properties, but for the more creative they can also become a work of art. They are still widely used by Dutch farmers today. Interestingly, the French clog, known as the sabot, has Luddite connections, making it my personal favourite. During the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries, French workers threw their wooden shoes into the machines to damage them, simply because these machines were replacing their skilled crafts. The act became so common that it gave rise to the word sabotage. Clogs can be hand-carved from woods such as willow, alder, birch or poplar, making them the ideal footwear for the British moneyless contingent.
I’ve told friends that when I die I want them to make a pair of shoes out of my hide – willow soles with my bum as an upper would be my ideal. I haven’t had any takers yet, so get in touch if you are interested.
You probably think I am wise-cracking, but I’m not. This is something very important to me. I want to be of use after my death, not thrown in a box where my flesh will just rot, while those six feet above me continue to import cheap shoes from China and Taiwan. We’re no more special than any other animal, and if using their hides for footwear is acceptable then I can’t see why it shouldn’t be acceptable to use my arse too. Edward Abbey took this perspective a step further when he said “if my decomposing carcass helps nourish the roots of a juniper tree or the wings of a vulture – that is immortality enough for me. And as much as anyone deserves”.(198) It is with humility such as this that we need to live our lives again.
Hitching is one of those famous moneyless arts – the picture of the free soul on the open road with nothing but a sense of adventure. Yet this depends on someone else having a car and all the costs and consequences of that, and therefore moneyless living’s most common symbol is relatively low down my POP model for transport.
However, to completely disregard it would be just as foolish as thinking of it as a long-term solution. Hitching allows more efficient usage of finite fossil fuels, it facilitates connections between travellers and locals and all the mutual benefits that come with that, and it allows at least a few people to have a proper travel adventure, of a type diametrically opposed to the concept of a package holiday. It is a transitional strategy, not an ideal, and it’s a tradition we would do well to keep alive for now. I have been hitching since I have been able to stand up, back in the eighties. In those financially humble days, there would be queues of hitchers at every exit from a town.
Now I can hitch the length of the country – from the south-east port of Rosslare to Donegal in the north-west – and not see one other hitcher along the way. It’s a sad sight, and one which highlights the effect of money on our lives. Most cars that fly by have only one person in them. Regardless of ideologies, this is simply a terribly inefficient culture, which (as we seen in chapter one) it has to be in order to stay afloat.
As I mentioned in The Moneyless Man,(199) my tips for hitchhiking also apply to life in general: smile; keep baggage to a minimum and only take what you really need; be friendly; trust your intuition and instinct; and most importantly – have a route in mind but allow the adventure to take you where it will if a good enough opportunity arises!
RULES OF THE ROAD
Kath Kelly, author of Thumbing Through: Hitch-hiking Talesfrom my Diaries and How I lived a Year on Just a Pound a Day
Is hitching dangerous? I’ve been hitching alone for over thirty years, and the number of horror stories I’ve heard hasn’t been high. Some people waited ages for a ride, and some, male and female, got propositioned, but that can happen anywhere. I’ve never been physically threatened while hitching.
It’s important to exercise your prerogative to agree to, or turn down, a lift. If it isn’t to the right place, the driver smells of drink, or you just don’t get a good feeling from him or her, you don’t have to get in. I believe plenty of people could have avoided trouble if they’d just said ‘no’ at the right moment.
What to wear and carry
a) A sign: A4 size card b) A marker pen c) Brightly coloured, clean-looking clothes d) Bad weather gear e) Small compact luggage: it may have to stay on your knee f) Wrap the stuff inside in plastic bags, in case you get soaked g) A mobile phone h) A road map i) Something to eat and drink, including something to offer to the driver.
Where and when to hitch
• In daylight: it’s much safer if people can see you and read your sign.
• Just in front of a lay-by or other open area: drivers need room to get off the road if they decide to stop for you. When they do pull in, run! Don’t keep them waiting while you stroll over.
• In front of motorway signs on a slip road: the big blue sign that says ‘M6’ shows where the non-pedestrian area begins.
• At petrol stations: They’re nice light places to wait, with good facilities, and drivers come out of them feeling relaxed and refreshed, so they’re great for hitching.
• Outside the city centre: walk to the outskirts of town where you’re clearly visible and your destination is obvious.
• Outside a truck stop or industrial estate: good for long-distance traffic.
• At the car park exit after a public event: lots of cars will come pouring out. There will surely be someone going your way!
Bicycles bits and pieces
You didn’t get a book on moneyless living to learn about bicycles. Even David Cameron, Prime Minister of the UK at the time of writing, cycles to work the odd time, albeit with his chauffeur in tow carrying his briefcase.(200) If I was a transport advisor to the PM, which I hasten to add I probably won’t ever be, my first counsel would be around the subject of panniers – a rack on the back of the bike, coupled with two clip-on bags, would have saved him (or in this case, the taxpayer) the cost of a driver and all the expenses that go with a car – an MOT, road tax, insurance, bad health. I got my pair of panniers by posting a message on the Freeconomy website. Admittedly, they looked like they were teleported out of the nineteen eighties. The upside of this, however, is that twenty years later they are still in great condition, having been built with the quality and strength that was common in stuff back then, and lacking the built-in obsolescence incorporated into much of what we make today.
If you need to cart around something bigger than David Cameron’s briefcase – which is a common reason cited by people who say that cycling isn’t pragmatic for them – I’d highly recommend a bicycle trailer. These you can make yourself out of bits and pieces you may already have lying around the home – old kids bike wheels, storage containers, planks of wood and the like. There are many different designs available on the magnificent Instructables(.com)(201) website.
There are some other useful tips in relation to moneyless cycling, however. First, use money one last time in relation to transport (this would be somewhere half way up my POP model for transport) and get yourself a pair of GreenTyres(.co.uk).(202) These creations, which are as common as marijuana in the Netherlands (we could learn a lot from the Dutch), are puncture-proof tyres made out of recycled plastic and micro-pockets of air. Before I gave my bike, and the green tyres that were on it, away to someone on the Freeconomy website (Freecycle and Freegle are better set up for doing this but I am a little bit biased), I had one set of punctureless tyres for four years and they looked almost like new – that was after doing anywhere between 30-100 miles a week on them during that time. They’re not quite as comfortable as normal tyres, but you get used to them in no time. On a side note, three months after giving away my bike on Freeconomy I received an even better one right at the moment when I needed one again. Give without any expectation of receiving, without a moment’s thought of credit or debt, and you will receive whatever you need when you need it – if I have learnt one thing from the last fours years, it is to trust that.
In terms of lighting, you can often find old dynamos on Freecycle and Freegle, and these are a great moneyless replacement for battery powered lights, as you power them yourself.
Ideally you’ll also be powered by your own home-grown produce. If you fuel your body using food imported from all over the world, cycling is no longer an ecologically neutral option, and it has been argued that it could even be worse than driving a car and consuming fewer calories that you’ve sourced locally.(203) That perspective is much too simplistic and reductionist, but it certainly is food for thought.
For the ultimate in moneyless biking (though, admittedly, not the ultimate in speedy biking), check out the Splinter Bike,(204) a 100% wooden bike made by Michael Thompson of the Eco-shed(205) in Norfolk. They even set a land speed record for it in 2011, clocking in at an impressive 18.11kph. Such designs are in their infancy, but bikes made from locally grown wood may be commonplace in the localised economy of the future.
In my POP model for transport, this is near the bottom. It lacks the adventure of hitching and the sustainability of walking. Nonetheless, it still has a role to play in the transition to a new economy, and in your POP model for transport it may be near the top. As I mentioned earlier, my years on the road have shown me that out of every ten cars that will pass, there will be on average twenty two free spaces, even though everyone is going in roughly the same general direction.
It was in reaction to such ecological lunacy that a host of liftsharing sites grew up in tandem with the internet. The best of these is liftshare(.com),(206) a site which matches together people who are taking the same journey. They have a very large database of members, with lots of journeys offered up, so if you are going somewhere that requires punctuality (meaning you can’t chance hitching) then I would check them out. This website is especially useful if you make the journey regularly, as many liftshares can be an ongoing thing. Other similar sites, though all a little different, include NationalCarShare(.co.uk),(207) Freewheelers(.com)(208) and MyLifts(.com). Pick the one that best meets your needs. If you haven’t got money to offer in terms of sharing the cost of the fuel, why not offer some of the food you’ve grown instead, or something you’ve created out of locally grown materials that the driver would like?
If you live in a city and feel that you or others need a bus service in order to get around, then why not pioneer a free bus service in your area. If you’re looking for inspiration and more information, one not-for-profit organisation called Freebus(209) did just that in Bristol (UK).
Because of its dependency on fossil fuels, insurance companies and lots of machinery, this would again appear somewhere in the bottom half of my moneyless POP model for transport. However, it is free at the point of service so, depending on your reasons for being moneyless, it may make it near the top of yours. It would be wise not to see it as anything more than a transitional strategy, helping those handicapped by this broken economy in which we find ourselves. Its illusory freeness shouldn’t distract us from embarking on a relentless drive to create a new economy, one that works in harmony with the real needs of humans and the rest of Nature, and the reorganisation and redesign that will have to come with that.