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Free: Adventures on the margins of a wasteful society [Paperback]

Katharine Hibbert
4.2 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (8 customer reviews)
Price: £11.99 & FREE Delivery in the UK. Details
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Book Description

14 Jan 2010

For many the daily grind can feel like a trap - work, gym, drinks, shops, home, bed, work. But what would happen if one day you just jacked it all in, to survive on next to nothing? Katharine Hibbert decided to find out.

No job, no rented flat, no shopping, no debit card and no travel pass. Katharine decided to give it all up, to walk the streets with only a backpack and spend a year living off the food, clothes, other goods and accommodation that would otherwise go to waste. It would be year of squatting, scavenging and no spending. Would she survive and if she did would she ever want to go back?

The journey takes her on a fascinating trip, from drug-dens to lavish squatted mansions. She has to learn to fend for herself and to trust the generosity of strangers and friends she makes along the

way. She falls into a hidden community who teach her how to build a life using the things that others throw away, and finds that life on the margins amounts to so much more than you might think.

Frequently Bought Together

Free: Adventures on the margins of a wasteful society + The Moneyless Man: A Year of Freeconomic Living + How To Be Free
Price For All Three: £24.57

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Product details

  • Paperback: 320 pages
  • Publisher: Ebury Press; First Edition 2nd Impression edition (14 Jan 2010)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0091932734
  • ISBN-13: 978-0091932732
  • Product Dimensions: 13.7 x 21.4 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.2 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (8 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 192,296 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author

Katharine Hibbert lives in a squat in London. She is an active member of the Advisory Service for Squatters, the only national organisation giving legal and practical advice to squatters and would-be squatters. She is 28 and, as a freelance journalist, has written cover stories for the Guardian's G2 section and for The Sunday Times Magazine.

Product Description


"A fascinating study which proves that waste is aplenty in our consumer society." (The Independent)

"Free is part squatting guide, part diary and is loaded with statistics. Sometimes it feels as if Hibbert has counted every Pret A Manger sandwich that ended up in a landfill. Her anger at the waste of consumer society is relentless.Over the past year, we have focused on the fall of the bankers, but Free is a reminder that the recession has had an equally dramatic effect on those several rungs below them on the financial ladder." (The Telegraph)

"In this account of her varied, and largely positive, experiences, Hibbert paints a detailed and often funny self-portrait of a young Londoner who sneaks fox-like around her city, managing to survive off its detritus for a whole year, affording her the time to appreciate her choices and her relative youth more fully than had she stayed in her "cosy, domesticated rut" (Times Litarary Supplement)

"Her book is a passionate plea against the rubbish society. It might not be free, but it's worth reading even if you don't find it in a skip." (ROOF - Shelter's Housing Magazine)

Book Description

What happens when you walk away from everything that you think you can't live without?

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Customer Reviews

4.2 out of 5 stars
4.2 out of 5 stars
Most Helpful Customer Reviews
12 of 12 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Thought provoking 19 Feb 2010
There have been quite a few books recently about how to live for almost nothing. Usually the message is: shop carefully, take advantage of free offers and promotions and go to places where culture and entertainment are free. All sound advice. Katherine Hibbert, however, goes a very big step further. She quits her job, leaves her home, and goes out onto the streets of London with nothing. As one whose only contact with homeless people is saying hello to the genial tramp who tries to sell me the Big Issue on the way to work every day, I was curious to know what would happen next.

This is essentially a book about squatting. I assumed we'd be following the author on a steep downward depressing spiral into filth, squalor and crack dens, but I was amazed to find her life did not go that way at all and the book is surprisingly uplifting. Katharine lives in a succession of squats, lives by "skipping" discarded food from bins behind supermarkets and sandwich shops, and gets around on a bike she finds abandoned and fixes it herself using tools borrowed from a squatter-friendly bike repair enterprise.

Amonng the lessons we learn are: 1. some squatters are nice people; 2. your home is unlikely to be taken over by squatters if you just nip out to buy a newspaper; 3. squatters often make their homes quite comfortable; 4. shops and supermarkets throw out vast amounts of perfectly edible food every day; 5. hitch-hiking is still possible in the UK.

So was Katherine's new money-free lifestyle a success? You'll have to read the book to find out. I can tell you it's made me now begrudge every penny I spend on anything!
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10 of 10 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars inspiring 27 Jan 2010
I read about this book in The Big Issue, and Hibbert's story is truly inspiring. Everyone should read this to remind themselves just how much we think necessery is actually not.
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13 of 15 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Eye-opening 3 Feb 2010
This book was such a revelation to me!

I work in a bookshop, and had been sceptical when I had first seen this appear on our shelves. After a few days of flicking through it, I was convinced that its content would only annoy me, and that I would feel angry at this group of people who manage to live without money whilst I only earn retail wages.

What I did not expect was the honest account of someone who was very much like me; middle-class, university educated, and in many other ways pretty much average. It was so lovely to read from a squatter's point of view without being overloaded with the activist mindset which has always made me recoil from squatters.

I consider myself to be an open minded person, or at least open to new ideas, but so often when encountering squatters there has been an air of elitism around them which does not do them any favours, so I really enjoyed the more impartial approach to squatting. I also really enjoyed reading about skipping and the huge quantities of good food which go to waste every day, and was thoroughly dismayed to read that companies purposefully damage good food so as to make it inedible to skippers.

Really interesting and enjoyable all round!
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Living On The Edge .... 9 Mar 2011
By A. Pugh
Well written, an enjoyable read. But a gloomy sense of deserving thanks for doing it. That was never the point of squatting and never will be.
Sounds like she enjoyed the break from main stream life once she tackled some of the hurdles it presented. I've passed it on ....
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