Carolien became passionate about nature and social equality at a young age. She was moved watching the news about animal species getting extinct, and her empathy for people, other creatures and nature was awakened.
“I was sometimes a bit the odd one out in my family"
After finishing her PhD in environmental psychology, and working as an academic researcher, she embarked on a new journey. She wanted to test the possibility of working in a more personal, stimulating and fulfilling way. Additionally, she wanted to explore if she could work outside of the conventional economic system. And she did. She made one-on-one bartering agreements, and managed to live one year without money. For instance, she had all her food needs covered by making agreements with an organic restaurant, a local organic farm and an organic shop in her neighbourhood. In exchange she worked on various projects, such as creating an education programme for children in the neighbourhood on food.
“Life became so much more simple in a nice way, it was as if the buzz of a thousand different choices a day disappeared”
This experience gave Carolien enhanced quality of life, and deeper relationships with people around. Her already very ecologically conscious lifestyle became even more sustainable as a result of her decreased consumption. She did most of her work locally and received most of her products and services from nearby sources. By not shopping new things, there was much more space for creativity, interaction with people and just being.
“It saves so much time if you don’t need to shop for clothes to be happy“
Carolien's project of living without money ended in the beginning of 2011, but her life continues in a thoughtful and sustainable way. She is finding her balance of participating again in the conventional economic system while keeping the good experiences and practices of 2010. She works for pleasure and things she believes in, living the life she wants with her son and her partner, and nurtures the personal relationships in her circle of friends.