Many of you have seen the natural vs. artificial-discussions soemtimes raging in the outdoorworld, all over the web, on forums and in blogs, but I think it is time to show you why and how I am doing my share to reduce my ecological footprint. Because that, for me, is a major contributing factor. It isn't just my feeling of discomfort with manmade materials and fibres. It is also a part of the legacy I want to leave the world, my children and their children.
Apart from the fact that I firmly believe natural materials are better for mankind to use, they also polute far less, both in production as in use and, much more, when they are discarded.
I admit I did and still do use a lot of plastics and other materials in my outdoorhobby/lifestyle, simply because they are so abundant and cheap. I also have to say that I was shocked to see just how much plastic is used! You find it in cloths, shoes, backpacks, tents, tarps, sleepingbags, cooking- and drinkingutensils etc. etc. You can literally wrap yourself completely in plastics and related materials. Allthough I respect and understand the choices people make concerning their gear, I must say that on the other hand I am concerned about what is needed to produce, and later to get rid off, these pieces of equipment. But that is something to think about and a choice each has to make for his/her own.
I started out using a lot of military surplus and you find large quantities of plastics in that gear. Using surplus however means being able to get around with a limited budget and, when you look at it, you actually use "garbage", discarded items, which thus get a second life and do not end up on the garbagedump. As said I still do have, and use, military surplus, but it gets replaced by a similar item without plastics, when ever it breaks or needs te be replaced. Those who are willing to look for, and use, old military surplus are often able to replace these plasticcontaining items with wool, canvas, leather or metal items, but that does come at a cost. It costs extra cash and you have to be willing to carry the extra weight. I have noted that it is getting increasingly difficult to obtain gear made from non-artificial fabrics for an affordable prize. That goes for both military and non-military items.Try to get a wool pair of ,socks, pants or jacket for under €10......
Buying something non-military without plastics is a real challenge these days. I have yet to find a 100% cottoncanvas tarp, ready made and affordable and even cotton isn't necesserally enviromentally friendly. Finding leather to make your own belts or sheaths is often more expensive than buying a ready made item. The same goes for wool for clothing or bedding. Even wood is worth it's weight in gold in the highly urbanised western world....
So economics can be a very good reason not to choose natural..... No matter how you feel about them.
Another big factor, however, is availability. Plastic items are so abundant, so easily available and so easily discarded and that concerns me, too. It is so easy to buy that plastic bottle or that cool folding mug or that semi indestructible knife that many, or even most, of us do it without thinking twice.
This has lead me to take this no-plastic-policy one step further and try to live up to it at home on a daily basis, too.
And I was shocked again!!! Have you ever considered the amount of plastics we use in our houses and on a daily basis??? All that plastic packaging, sometimes in more than one layer.... Think of your house without plastics and what would be left?? Not all that much, 'ey?
Even here we are trying to replace broken plastic items with items made out of wood (decomposable), metal (durable), ceramics (durable and non-poluting) and even glass (as an alternative).... That goes for clothing, householdappliances and even furniture... But there simply is no getting around the stuff. It is literally everywhere! And many things aren't even available as a non-plasticproduct!
Luckily where we live, plastic is being collected separately from the regular housholdgarbage and we are quite strict in keeping it separated! It has brought down our garbage by at least 60%!! And I can only hope that that plastic is being recycled, since there's no way I can be sure of that.
I know that more often that not it seems almost impossible not to buy something that has some sort of plastic in it. I admit that we too buy a lot of stuff that has plastics in one form or another in it. Like I said, there often is no getting around it. What we buy is getting used up these days. In other words, we don't throw it away, because we don't like it anymore. We often find alternative uses for plastic packaging for instance. We reuse containers for jam or butter to freeze homemade applesauce of freshly picked fruit that isn't processed righ away. We use smaller containers of dessert or the plastic trays meat often comes in as trays to plant seeds for our garden.... To name but a few....
What we can not use anymore, but what still is serviceable goes to charityshops for instance. This way it gets a second life and we might be able to help someone in need, too.
Only what is broken, gets thrown away, but only after we have split it up into paper/metal/plastic.
Why am I rambling on and on about plastics??
Simple, we are choking ourselves and everyone and everything with that stuff, since it is not biodegradable within an acceptable period of time (unless you consider 100's of years to be acceptable) and when it does I do not want to know what traces it leaves behind..... And I haven't even started about the manufacturingproces with its waste and energyrequirments!
I believe it is time to ask ourselves what we are doing and how we can change that. After all we, the outdoorenthusiasts and selfproclaimed lovers of nature and wildlife, should give an example.... And I do believe that wrapping ourselves in too much gear that often is made on the other side of the world with synthetic materials is NOT the way to do that....
I really don't care about what the gramcounting whiners, the fashionable pretenders and Bear Grylls/Ray Mears-wannabe's are yelling. If you truely DO care about the outdoors, about nature or about wildlife, you really should ask yourself if you do need all that stuff and if you really do not have an alternative...... If not for you, than for the non-concrete world out there we call the outdoors, which we are to live in and pass on to others.
It is time to ask ourselves:
"Do I really need it?"
"Do I have an alternative?"
"What can I do with it when it is no longer needed or discarded?"
If you think it isn't all that bad.... try googling "plastic waste" for a change.....
It made me wanna cry....