On the BCUK-forum I frequently visit there is the discussion going on about traditional vs. modern (you can read it here ). One of the guys made a comment that made it all clear, at least from my point of view. It is this one:"For me, the important distinction is between equipment that's made using materials largely derived from petrochemicals, in far-eastern sweatshops, and transported halfway round the world, eg. most contemporary gear, and that which is made using materials of renewable origin (cotton, leather etc.) by more local makers. Its about impact on the planet and ethics. ", made by charliefoxtrot.
All I had to add, was the element of emotion. The feeling natural/traditional materials and gear give me, when I touch it. It feels not as cold and unliving as synthetics. It also links me to the natural world around us, because it was living tissue, befor turned into gear, clothing and equipment and that too you can still feel and see. It provides a direct link to the past and it's knowledge we try to relearn and re-experience. And last, but not least, the use of materials and gear from that category fits precisely into my filosophy and helps me to stay focussed, going the path I have chosen to go.
I am allways amazed when these discussions pop up (and I allways get drawn in...), that there are hordes of people claiming that todays gear will be traditional in a hundred years and that the "icons from the old days" were not traditionalists either, but modern for their times and would probably use modern fibres and gear too. Apart from the fact that if we were to set a standard for traditional/natural we should look at the native americans for instance and not some 19th century urban man, who happens to like camping too. This way they completely neglect or avoid the, for me, true content of the discussion; using materials with a huge ecological footprint (as it is so popularly know these days) vs. materials that are less demanding on resources or leave less longterm waste, between taking your responsibility as a consuming human vs. being a hypocrite, between truely caring for our world or being a pretender.
For me someone running around in all new synthetics, with all the latest gadgets and still claiming he cares about our world and our enviroment, is the same as a sportsmen, taking his car for a 2-minutedrive to buy a pack of cigarettes; a pretender! It is all about action, not words.
Using traditional and natural materials and gear actually is synonimous for my way of living. My family and I are going the way back. We do not buy all the latest and greatest, we heat our house with wood (allthough that means hauling everybit of it uphill, while we have an electrical heater standing right beside our woodfedheater), we use natural materials or surplusstuff as much as possible or desirable (There still is the socially acceptable standard or SAS).
Yes, we do have a car, simply because we do need it here, with the school, nearest store and facilities are 12km away and at this moment we can not do without. Yes, we do have a tv, computer, xbox and internet, because some of it we simply need to be able to function in this society and because we have children and that's where the SAS comes in, again. Some things are also leftovers from the years previous to our current path. Since these are still functional, they still will be sporadically used untill they quit all together.
Am I telling you all this to show you how good I am and to tell you I have all the answers?? Hell no! I am telling you, so you can see it can be done. To tell you that you can do it too and to hopefully hear from others that I can do it differently, easier or better, so I don't have to fall on my face each time and learn it the hard and painfull way.
And by repeatingly telling and writing about this subject here, I am hoping to reach someone out there, who might be triggered to think about it for himself and make up his own mind and act accordingly. We're a family of five, yet we produce less waste than a average modern 2-personhousehold and we use less resources than an average modern 2-personhousehold and we have only just begun to change our ways. Imagine what would happen if more and more were to follow....
Now I fully understand that we can not change what we are and do over night and that we can not shift the balance in an instant. It takes time, time to relearn and unlearn, to rediscover and revalue.
Yet I firmly believe that doing things in a less wastefull manor will help our world to become a much better place. I also realise that this is wasted on the vast majority. They prefer to remain ignorant, often delibaretly turning a blind eye, but maybe.... just maybe....
In the end I believe it is not just about discussing your choice of gear and material, wether you're traditional or modern, walk around in a buckskin jacket of a polyester one. It is about who you really are, what you truely believe in and what you are willing to do in order to support that.
If someone fully dressed in the latest hightech, fashionable acceptable gear with all the bells and whistles came up op me, looked me in the eye and honoustly told me that he wholeheartedly believed that this was the best way for our world, I shall absolutely respect that. But I doubt if there would be many....