OptOutside: An Antidote to Black Friday
For the vast majority of human history, we lived in close contact with nature. Now 80% of us in the UK and more than 50% of the world live in towns and cities.
We’re losing our contact and our connection with nature.
Not only is this affecting our health and wellbeing - there are lots of credible studies that show how much we need nature for our mental, physical and emotional health, like this one from Stanford University - but also by spending very little time in natural and wild spaces, we don’t see what’s happening to them.
We don’t see the loss of species, disappearing habitats, the leeching of the soil, or the poisoning of our air and water.
And because we live away from nature, we don’t care so much either.
The truth is that it's us as consumers that make this happen. We cut down forests and that’s okay. We take things out of the ground, and that’s okay. We grow things in an unsustainable way and that’s okay. We treat animals badly and that’s okay. We dump plastic that ends up in the sea and that’s okay.
We treat nature as a commodity that we can exploit, instead of a community to which we belong, and that’s causing all sorts of environmental damage and leading to climate change.
Something has to change.
As consumers we can make a different choice: to love and respect nature, by spending time outside getting to know her, instead of in front of a screen buying more things we don’t need, that use up more of the earth’s precious resources.
On Black Friday - one of the holiest days in all of shopping - when 14 million people in the UK spend up to £2bn on more ‘stuff’, inspired by US retailer REI’s #optoutside campaign, a few of us went on a connected nature walk instead.
It was a fresh sunny day. We walked in silence through a glade of sycamore and ancient ash, and sat down quietly amongst huge beech trees, feeling the wind on our faces and listening to the birds.
We shared our feelings about Black Friday and shopping.
We easily covered the five-mile walk, stopping for lunch in the low winter sun.
It was a simple, life affirming day. There was nothing to buy, and I feel good about that.
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Author & Curator
Nigel Berman is the founder of School of the Wild.