Last weekend, I went camping with my family on Washington’s Olympic Coast. I don’t go camping so often, but when I do, it reminds me of how little I need to be happy. We find ourselves so settled into our luxurious lives that we forget the difference between wants and needs.
Here are some of the major thoughts that occurred to me as I returned from my camping trip. They’re lessons I’ll try to hold onto for the whole year, and I hope they’re useful reminders for you, too!
There’s no need to stay so clean
Is there anything more wonderful than taking a warm shower after camping for a few days? Though I’m sure my hair didn’t look its best, I definitely reflected on the fact that we do not need to shower every day. Besides, my hairdresser always tells me that washing your hair every day is damaging!
We also have a tendency to keep our belongings near sterile. When camping, rinsing dishes off in a basin of water (or even the ocean!) usually suffices. Yet, when I’m at home, I almost always clean my dishes with boiling water and soap!
I already wrote about how we tend to clean our clothes too much. We go through so much water and soap in our daily lives that we just don’t need! There’s no need to live quite as sparingly as I do when camping, but it’s good to remind myself that I can survive without totally sterile, clean belongings.
We eat way more than we need
One of my favorite meals while camping was a lunch of smoked salmon and crackers after a hike. I found it so satisfying. How is that possible when my usual lunch consists of something much more complex and thoughtfully prepared?
The more active I am, the more delicious food tastes! When I’m actually hungry, almost any food tastes wonderful. As my mom often says, “Hunger is the best chef.”
Beyond that, I find that people tend to snack out of boredom in their day-to-day life. When camping, we just have less food on hand and have to really think about how hungry we are at any moment.
That lesson can apply to our daily life. We buy so much food that we want but don’t necessarily need. I certainly find that the more I buy, the more I will eat! Cutting back just a little bit can remind us that we hardly need so many calories to survive.
Time in nature inspires me to protect it
I think about sustainability in an abstract sense a lot. I spend time in classes that discuss the philosophy or science behind environmentalism and climate change.
At the end of the day, though, nothing inspires me to protect the planet more than watching nature up close. The joy of hunting mushrooms with my nephew, seeing golden eagles soar through the sky, and watching waves roll over untouched tide pools – that’s what inspires me to live green.
As important as it is to live sustainably every day, we all deserve to get out in nature and enjoy it. The more we get our kids and friends and family out in nature, the more they will probably want to protect it, too.