Wednesday, September 19, 2007

Better for the Environment - Bushcraft or Gear?

It seems over the past few years all the activities that I have done in the past have become much more gear intensive (and complicated). I remember hunting, fishing, and roasting a marshmallow to be pretty simple things. Today, it seems you can not open a hunting magazine without seeing ads for $300 rain gear, scent elimination clothing, all kinds of gadgets and gizmos to put on your bow, and let’s not forget about all the electronics that are supposed to keep you from getting lost or talking to your buddies.

When I was growing up, and we either went camping or had a bon fire we always cut our own marshmallow stick from green sticks growing around the yard. The stuff always grew back quickly, and never made that connection until recently.

As I got older, I started feeling guilty about cutting down a living thing to roast a marshmallow. Conveniently, every outdoors store sells a nice metal, chrome plated (probably made in china) device to roast stuff over the fire. So I bought one. No more feeling guilty about cutting green sticks.

I have not thought much on this topic until recently watching all of the first two seasons of Bushcraft by Ray Mears. As the name implies, the series is about how to do things in the woods with natural materials. Of course, his shows are really interesting because there is a lot of history provided, but that is getting off topic.

It begs the question…..what is better for the earth? Cutting a couple of green sticks, which are likely to re-grow quickly? Or to have petroleum based equipment extract metal from the earth, ship it to a manufacturing plant, form it in the shape of a fork, but a nice chrome plating and wooden handle on it, then ship it all over the world so that we have a nifty little gadget? I will leave that one to you.

I think the reason it was not so obvious before, like anything else, when you do it yourself you see the consequences first had. While they may be bad, they are far better than the alternative. Kind of like how killing a cow and butchering it is probably not high on anyone’s “want to do list.” But, when you buy the nicely packaged steak (or stop at McDonald’s) none of those thoughts about killing and butchering enter your mind because you didn’t do it (directly anyway).

The same concept can be extended to many examples in the woods. For example, if you have to purify water, would it be better to start a small fire by gathering some dead wood, and possibly cutting a green stick or two to suspend at pot to boil water? Or to have some pump made from plastic with rubber hose and a paper filter with carbon and who knows what else in it? Again, it goes back to seeing the small impact you made to the earth, and not seeing the bigger impact that someone else has made for you.


At October 22, 2007 at 10:06 PM , Blogger Decado said...

Funny but this is exactly what I have been thinking lately. I have been thinking of posting something like this on my own blog. I think your post is great, but I guess I am still a bit undecided. I would love to be able to just look for materials in the woods and use them (wisely of course) but what if every person that went out into the woods and cut green twigs to roast a marshmallow? I have done the Ultralight/High tech route for a long time (mind you I made most of my equipment from recycled items) and have only recently began to study bushcraft. I see your point about all of the effects on the environment it took to make a piece of equipment.
I still feel that there are pros and cons to both sides. I guess when it comes down to it my heart is telling me one thing and my brain is telling me another.

Thanks for the post! Will be a good topic for discussion by the campfire! :)



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