We have all seen a huge increase in reports of littering and abandoned camps across the UK both in the media, the Bushcraft community and in person when out in the woods. I was having some hammock time in the woods this week and was thinking about why this has suddenly increased and what it really means.
I have to say I almost didn’t do this blog in fear of it coming across as another “this is an outrage… boil them all in oil and feed them to Bear Grylls” rant. Hopefully that won’t happen (sorry Bear, you will still have to make do with grubs and water squeezed from elephant dung).
” Like Going From Baby Food to a T-bone Steak…”
Now, I was very lucky in as much as I was raised in a very rural area, and my father had spent his former career as a farmer, so respect for the countryside and ‘leave no trace’ was installed into me from a very early age, and this got me thinking .
I am not disputing that there are small minority of people who just don’t care. But is there more to this than ‘slobby’ behaviour? , Have we as a nation encouraged and even nurtured this lack of maturity in nature?
“If you go down to the woods today you’re in for a (health and safety, risk assessed , partially tarmaced) surprise “
I remember around 4 years ago when I first started to take regular time in nature, getting very excited about going to Delamere Forest. I have very fond memories as a child of going there and exploring the woods and having great adventures. Unfortunately I was a little saddened to find that the ‘wilderness’ was now starting to resemble a theme park with hardcore paths and a bin and bench every 200m or so, and even fences to prevent access to areas off the trail. The same could be said for many of our favourite camping spots.
I am not trying to discredit these types of trails, they are a great way of improving accessibility and get more people into nature who may not be able to get there normally, but unfortunately with every benefit, there is a flip side, which means people now expect to be able to have a pic-nic and then dump their waste in the bin next to the picnic area.
Another consideration though is much more deeply rooted in modern DNA and that is that everything is now disposable.
I have tools and kit that are 2 generations old, my grandfather past it to my father and my father past it to me. I knew that kit should be looked after because quite frankly as a child if my tent went mouldy, or a lost my penknife… that I could not afford to get another one.
With the introduction of cheap tents and kit, some even marketed as ‘festival tents’ we once again see that the benefit of accessable equipment has unfortunately meant that we no longer have to respect our kit (or learn the skills involved in making it fit back in the bag it came in)
I truly believe that this has contributed to the many people who are drawn to nature, just not having the nature maturity, to camp in the wild without the banks of skips being emptied twice a day and toilets being cleaned regularly behind the scenes, the bbq area that has been risk assessed to within an inch of its life, and of course the skills that many wild campers have spent time learning.
Simply put, without the right skills and mindset, it is like a baby going from baby food to a T-bone steak.
Unfortunately with these ‘serviced’ facilities being closed to me it has highlighted a deeper issue with the disconnect between people and nature. The beer bottles and scorched earth are just a side effect (albeit a frustrating one)
What can we do?
It is now more important than ever that we educate those around us as to the right way, of being in nature without support.
If you find a abandoned BBQ or tent, bag it up and and bring it back with you… then put a positive message out on social media talking of the importance of ‘leave no trace’ and the effect the rubbish can have on wildlife etc.
I hope that this blog has not been too preachy, and that it comes across in the positive manor it was intended… let’s all work together to bring people back to their Tribal Roots.