Blindly enjoying the natural world

This past bank holiday weekend I spent some time away in Wales.

I haven’t really been to Wales much. Fleeting trips mostly, except for my most recent experience: a beautifully enriching solo trip to the South of Wales where I flitted about in the early year’s hot weather and really got to grips with the relationship I have with nature and photography. 

But this time it wasn’t so quiet, so solo. I went with a group of friends. We stayed at a campsite rather than the more reclusive roadside sleeping, wildcamp setups, or private airbnb spaces I’ve been used to recently. It was nice though, you can’t really roadside sleep or wildcamp when there’s a group of you and you really shouldn’t, it draws too much attention.

Bank holiday was busy. Of course. It was record-breaking hot temperatures for Easter, and it was Snowdonia. Of course it was going to be busy.

Michael and I had planned to meet the others, who were scrambling, atop Tryfan after doing the classic trad route, Grooved Arete, and we expected queues for the route. We knew we’d have to wait. and we did. There were people in front of us and people behind us. Fine, and to be expected.

This busyness really took its toll on me. I’ve been used to quiet mountainsides, perhaps a few other climbers wandering around, or specks in the distance. I haven’t had to really see that crash of human and nature together so much in such a short space of time. Or maybe I have but just haven’t acknowledged it – after all, I did spend January in Morzine, where human, and artificial snowboard, skis, metal, alcohol, collide together with the beauty and stillness of a snowy mountain range. 

I’ve seen and I’ve been in it, part of it, but I just haven’t quite felt like I am now. I’m coming to terms with my affect on the natural world, and how my existence, my choices, negatively affect the world, animals, humans, around me. 

Coming to terms with the fact that you’re taking more from the landscape than you give is an important thing. How can we shift that balance a little more? How can we live more sustainably?

Blindly enjoying the natural world just isn’t an option for me anymore; sustainable life choices and travel have become intrinsically linked and I’m wondering how I can do more. There’s more to ethical living than veganism.

I do personally believe that to lead an ethical life means cutting out animal cruelty. Veganism, for me, isn’t just about the environment, it’s about suffering. It’s about the causing of unnecessary suffering. And this is why I will always live a vegan life. I do not want the deaths of animals on my conscience, as much as I can help it.

But this isn’t “why vegan?”.

Climate change, pollution, and our disrespect for the earth is more complicated than a plant-based diet or a cruelty-free bathroom cabinet. It’s more radical than that. I’ve been truly excited and inspired, by the events going on in the world this week, spurred by collectives, organisations, and passionate individuals. I wonder what direction government policy will take if any. My positive side argues with the realist in me which keeps whispering about profit and greed and, the worst, disinterest and disengagement. 

I feel engaged and worried about what’s happened, what’s happening, about the trash that blows past me on the trail and the intricate relationships between organisms that we have absolutely no idea about that are being disrupted by our actions. Our privileged actions.

I wonder how to reach people.

It’s not by posting self-portraits on instagram. It’s not by spending hours of my week climbing. It’s not by writing this. 

How can I do more?


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