Daniel Suelo wasn't poor, a victim of bad luck, mentally ill, or even uneducated. He just decided that he wanted to have nothing to do with money. So he gave up consumer culture altogether, and for the last 9 years, he's survived by living in a cave in Utah, and dumpster diving, foraging, fishing, and occasionally hunting for food. He spends his time in the great outdoors--and in the public library, where he blogs about it all.
Suelo must have the lowest carbon footprint of any blogger in the United States. And he's never taken food stamps or other government assistance, and despite what his lifestyle may lead you to believe, he's certainly not crazy. He's just got an aversion to money.
According to MatadorChange, he was working in South America when he was first moved to consider a money-free, zero impact lifestyle:
While in Ecuador on a Peace Corps mission, he witnessed a rural community acquire increased monetary wealth through farming and shift their traditional lifestyle towards a diet of unhealthy, processed food and a newfound addiction to television ... He made the conscious decision to return home, quit his job, and carve out a life without money.
Suelo himself writes "I've been living without a cent to my name since the autumn of 2000 (with a month's exception during my first year)" on the front page of the website he runs from the public library.
It's interesting to look at Suelo's nearly decade-long dedication to anti-consumerism in contrast to the recent 'eco-stunts' that essentially promote similar ideals: sure, No Impact Man learned how hard it is to walk up six flights of stairs to get to his apartment for a year, but he he got a film and book deal out of it. Suelo's got no cameras following him around, and he mostly just uses his blog to wax poetic about his living philosophy.
Of course, few would be willing to take such a plunge into a moneyless, ultra-low impact life. But simply knowing that Suelo has should be enough to make us think a long hard minute about all the stuff we heedlessly buy. Reverend Billy may be the head of the Church of Stop Shopping, but Daniel Suelo is its patron saint.
Brian Merchant is a freelance writer, blogger, and editor living in Brooklyn, NY.