31 Nights Out

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I was recently contacted to do an interview about an Instagram post I shared. In the post I'd explained how for the last 3 years I had slept outside for at least 31 nights of each year.

For the last 3 years I've slept outside for at least 31 nights of each year. 1/12 of the year out in nature. To some this will seem extreme and to others this will seem a small amount. But out of everything I've been doing recently sleeping outside is still the single best way I've found to increase my connection to nature, remove distractions, and gain clarity. If you're looking for the same and don't sleep outside that often set yourself a target this year and go for it. You won't regret it. Kudos to @semi_rad for giving me the idea of counting.

I can't take the glory of this idea unfortunately, I became aware of it after this blog post caught my attention.  The idea really resonated with me, could I spend at least 1/12th of each year sleeping outside?

The challenge, initially, started as a one off. But, it's grown into something more. It's become a bit of a philosophy for me. A way of keeping track of whether I'm prioritising one of the things I see as important in life. Connecting with nature and spending time outside.

If you have a full time job, it can be hard to make time for nature these days. Most people don't work in nature, don't live in it, don't collect their food from it, don't exercise in it. We can go a long time without truly being in a natural environment. Which... doesn't seem very natural.

What if we can escape every once in a while and sleep outside, away from wifi, away from responsibilities, away from all the things that need to get done, and just live life a little more naturally?

It's not about doing the biggest, first, scariest, hardest, it's about sleeping outside. It's about establishing a little more connection to the natural world than we do in our modern, everyday lives. Sure, it would be easy to reach 31 days if we quite our jobs and travelled. But, that's not what this is about. It's about maintaining a connection while maintaining a "normal" life. Reminding ourselves that we are always part of nature. That spending time in the wild places feels natural because it is.

We could all benefit from spending more time outside. So, I'd like to reignite the initial 31 nights out challenge. If 31 seems a daunting challenge then pick a more realistic number, 3 nights out is a great achievement if last year it was 0 nights out. If it seems too easy, pick a higher number...

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How many nights can YOU sleep outside this year?

Thanks to Brendan at www.semi-rad.com for the inspiration

Josh

Don't be a dick

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Don't be a dick

We know plastic bags are bad for the environment. We've known this for years. Nothing new here.

But... we still use them. We use them quite a lot. We use millions of them. Not every year, but everyday.

We have waited for our governments to do something about plastic bags. Some have added small fees, a few have taken real action and banned them altogether. Some companies have got bored of waiting for their governments and stopped giving them out themselves. But still, a vast number of people still say yes to the question, "Would you like a bag?"

My question is, "Is this acceptable?"

Lets just take a moment to think what the realistic longevity of a plastic bag being used actually is:

  • Fill it with groceries - 1 minute
  • Walk to our car/home - 1-15 minutes
  • Empty the bag once we get home - 1 minute

That's it.

This bag, that has potentially completed it's full carrying career after as little as 3 minutes, will now retire and remain on the planet for between 20-1000 years (no idea why this range is so large!?). While I'm all for working less, this is taking the piss a bit.

Well, maybe it's time to change our stance on baggers and baggees (just made those words up). Sure, we aren't perfect, sometimes you're distracted, the baggers seize the opportunity, put your stuff in the bag before you can refuse. But, these should be one offs. Accidental occurrences that make us feel guilty. When we are paying attention we should be saying "No Thanks". If we can remember our wallets to go to the shop, then, maybe, we can remember a reusable bag. If we forget the bag, then, perhaps, we need to go home and get it, or better yet, suck it up and carry things home. We are quite resourceful. We have pockets, arms, teeth. Shouldn't it be us that suffers due to our mistake not the planet?

And, maybe, we shouldn't be so polite around those that still take and hand out bags.

If you have a friend who repeatedly takes 3, 4, 5 bags at a time, double bagging just to be safe,

If you have a family member who says "It's OK, I'll reuse it" and adds it to their growing collection of used once bags in the cupboard,

If you have a colleague who takes a bag without a second thought, a bag filled with only one item, and then proceeds to carry the bag not by the handles but by holding the item itself, removing any use for the bag at all,

If you shop somewhere that's default is to put items in a bag without asking and doesn't offer any alternative to plastic,

Well, maybe, you need to tell them they're a dick.

 

Josh

9 reasons why living sustainably is better for you

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9 reasons why living sustainably is better for you

With a seemingly endless stream of elections in recent months, we have been repeatedly reminded of a choice that we all supposedly must make. A choice of whether to live sustainably or live successfully.

The choice is based on a widespread belief that we can't have both. That to live a sustainable life is to make sacrifices in life, that going green means going without, that being environmentally friendly isn't economically friendly.

I believed in this choice most of my life. It was the leading factor in preventing me from changing. Truth is, my life is enriched, improved, and healthier from making changes to live more ethically.

There is no sacrifice to be made.

If like me, you like lists. Here is a list to show 9 ways my life has improved from trying to be more sustainable:

  1. Driving less. The less I drive, the more I cycle/walk/run. I become healthier, fitter and stronger every single time I decide to use human power over horsepower. I save money on fuel and feel much better when I arrive at my destination too.
  2. Buying less shit. The less I spend, the more I have to spend. Every time I decide that "No, I don't need the latest, shoes, clothes, gadget" the more money I have. This all adds up, and ultimately means I work less now, aged 33, than I ever have because I don't spend as much as I used to.
  3. Have less shit The flip side to 2 is that by buying less, I have less. I moved to Canada three and a half years ago and it is amazing how much stuff I had accumulated in that time. I recently gave a way a lot of things. Stepping away from this constant consumerism means that, now, I appreciate the things I own much more. There are fewer distractions in my house and life is simpler.
  4. Buying local food. I have recently tried to avoid, as much as possible, shopping in supermarkets. This means I buy food from much smaller grocery stores, farmers markets, and recently signed up to a CSA. These places allow me to eat more local food. The food has travelled less, is fresher, and has a smaller footprint. The fresher food has more nutrients and I feel healthier from eating it. I also know the people in the small grocery store that I frequent. We actually talk to each other! It's great.
  5. Buying organic. Another benefit of number 4 is that local food is often grown by smaller operations and is organic. While not all organic food is necessarily environmentally friendly, I believe on the whole it is much better than the alternative. I also believe eating a mostly organic diet is healthier.
  6. Reducing my waste. Trying to reduce my waste at first seemed a real hassle. Sure it takes a little more effort but there are some benefits to doing it. Firstly, in a world where it can be hard to find optimism around the environment, this small act gave me hope that I was playing a small part to create change. That alone is enough. But, a much bigger benefit, is that it also made me eat healthier. Processed food = lots of packaging. Fresh food = less packaging. Reduce your waste and you will eat more nutritious food.
  7. Grow your own food. When I first attempted to grow my own food, I didn't know what I was doing. Slowly, with lots of mistakes, I have learnt. I now love it. Even if all I ever managed to grow was this pathetic radish, it would not matter. Every time I eat something I grew I see it as a mini revolution. A way, for one brief mouthful, to be unreliant on what I see as a broken system. It also allows me to connect with the natural world in a unique way and slow down. Both of which have been massively beneficial for me.
  8. Spending more time outside. This might seem like a strange link to being sustainable, but I see a strong link between spending time in the natural world and wanting to protect it. The more time I spend camping, surfing, hiking, the more I care about protecting the forest, oceans, mountains and vice versa. And from every single angle I can see, spending more time outside is a one way ticket to having more fun.
  9. Make more things.  I used to use money as a way to make/fix/get new things. Why use valuable time when I can pay someone else to do it for me? The thing is, every time I outsourced these things I missed a chance to learn. Now, if I take time to cook more food, bake bread, make a wobbly coffee table, fix my jacket, I gain much more satisfaction and appreciation for those things. I also have more control over how the items are sourced. This doesn't apply to all things. I still have zero understanding of fixing all things electrical.

You do have a choice. A choice of making sacrifices OR living sustainably.

The importance of movement

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Humans evolved to move. Somewhere along the way, we forgot about this. The majority of kids today are less active than their parents were at the same age. While it is well documented that insufficient exercise can cause health problems, is it enough to just eat good food and do occasional exercise to resolve this? Most people would think it cruel to keep a dog inside all day and not allow it outside to run,  yet impose that exact same cruelty on themselves. If we can see clearly that a fundamental part of being an animal is to move should we not be following this rule?

The next time you see a dog being taken for a walk, take a minute to notice some subtle differences between Animal 1 (dog) and Animal 2 (human). The dog displays a mix of random and varied movement. Dogs walk, trot, sprint, roll, jump, shake, stretch, catch, and depending on the dog maybe even swim too. This is a stark contrast to how the other animal moves. Modern humans can go long periods of time without displaying any of those movements.  A lot of people's movements are very restricted. That wouldn't have always been the case.

Humans can complete all of these movements and more, much more. When we choose to, we are the best movers on the planet. As a species we can perform a more varied range of movement than any other. We can run 100 metres in under 10 seconds or run 100 miles in one day, swim 100 metres underwater or swim across seas, we can climb, flip, stretch, jump, balance, we can do all of this and more. Yet, we are a generation who are moving less and less.

Every other animal on the planet that can perform a certain movement does. If an animal has the ability to run, it runs, if it has the option of climbing, it climbs. We do not use our ability in the same way. While running is arguably one of the fundamental reasons why we evolved the way we have, a lot of people choose not to run at all.

If humans have evolved to move, then shouldn't we explore that movement? When I was a kid, all I wanted to do was run, jump, climb, I wanted to move and I had the ability to. We're all the same. But for some reason, along the way, we do this less and less. One day we wake up and we no longer can.

Is it any wonder we see increases of obesity, depression, anxiety, diabetes and other similar illnesses when we have lost a fundamental part of what we are designed to do. Our bodies want to move, not once a week, but everyday. We don't need to seek out an intense workout everyday, but we should aim to move in a series of natural ways at least once a day. By that I mean, to move in ways nature intended us to. Few animals stick to one form of movement. Shouldn't we learn from this and keep our movement mixed and varied too. If you only ever run, you will have poor flexibility, if you only do yoga, you will have poor cardio capacity. Sticking to one form of movement is, of course, much better than doing nothing. But, sticking to one form of movement isn't natural.

I believe this idea of random, varied movement is one reason why we should all spend more time exercising outside. Not on concrete roads and pavements but on trails, rocks, mountains, oceans and rivers. In these settings no movement is the same. If you trail run, every foot lands differently to the last, adjusting to the ever changing angles and surfaces. If you surf, each wave that rises is new and you move your body to adapt to that unique situation. If you climb, every rock face requires different movement to reach the next hold. It naturally creates natural movement.

I believe that using our full range of motion will allow us to move in more varied ways. The more varied our movement, the better our movement will be. If we can continue to move well into our old age then we will be healthier and happier for longer. It is what we were designed to do.

The more we do, the more we can do.

 

 


 

While researching this idea further I have come across a whole "movement" for this philosophy called Movement Culture. I discovered a movement dedicated studio near me in Vancouver that explores a number of different styles of movement including Capoeira, Yoga, Tai Chi, Martial Arts, Parkour, and Free-running. Before going to this I had the extremely misguided opinion that I was reasonably fit, strong and flexible. My first class was a humbling experience as my eyes were opened to a whole range of movement that I had not tried for years. I am slowly learning to move again in a number of new ways. Combining this with the activities I was already doing, running, climbing, hiking, mountain biking, surfing, yoga, playing football etc has made me feel much stronger and healthier and has opened up my range of movement immensely.

Here are a series of links for you to find out more:

Ido Portal - The inspiration behind Movement Culture.

Slava Goloubov - The guy who is currently teaching me everything I don't know.

Dharma Movement Studio - Where I am learning to move.

Josh

Vancouver Mountain Film Festival Partnership 2017

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I am really excited to announce I am hosting another night at the Vancouver Mountain Film Festival (VIMFF) on SaturdayFebruary 11th.

Tickets available here

Last year the night was a huge success and sold out well in advance of the night. We were able to show the Premiere of the environmental film The Last Stand For Lelu (which you can now watch in full here), and the Canadian Premiere of the film The Gold of Bengal (which went on to win best adventure film at the festival).

The theme is the same this year " The Change I Want To See" but we have a new powerful lineup. This time around it seems even more topical with all of the films and speakers focusing on the alternatives to the fossil fuel industry and the messaging we have been hearing recently from Donald Trump. If you have grown frustrated recently with everything happening in America then this night is designed to offer you some hope.

February 11th 2016 @ 7:30pm (doors at 7:00pm)

The Cinematheque Theatre, Vancouver

Tickets available here

Speakers

Lynne Quarmby

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Lynne will speak to the struggles of sustained and effective individual engagement in climate justice activism. How do we stay positive? Where should we put our efforts?

David Lavallee

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David has directed multiple award winning documentaries. He will talk about how he hopes the films will bring a much needed sanity to not only the energy debate, but the struggle for an economic paradigm that actually makes sense.

Films

To The Ends Of The Earth

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The rise of extreme energy, the end of economic growth, a new way forward.

Kokota: An Island Of Hope

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Our ability to adapt is only limited by our ability to learn.

Please help share the night and if you are available come along and listen to what some inspiring people are doing to create the change they want to see.

February 11th 2016 @ 7:30pm (doors at 7:00pm)

The Cinematheque Theatre, Vancouver

Tickets available here