Why You Need to Experience Nature to Be a True Conservationist

Going green is the latest fad.  Environmental conservation is at the heart of a more eco-friendly lifestyle.  Whether you are motivated by health, environmental concerns or current trends, there’s a lot of advice out there to help you live a greener lifestyle.  Using your wallet to support ethical companies and products is effective; however, I believe you cannot truly live a more eco-friendly life without connecting to nature itself.

Experiences in nature create emotional attachments and connections which leads to altruism for our environment.  As John Rosenow writes on “Growing Tree Planters”:

Today’s conservation professionals, and the many citizens who support environmental causes through their personal actions, contributions, and votes, tend to have one thing in common:  as children we led “free-range” childhoods.  We spent hours and hours of unstructured time outdoors, connected with nature…

As a result we developed an emotional connection with the natural world which led us to care about the environment as adults…

In response to this disconnection, many organizations have developed educational programs which teach children about environmental issues such as deforestation or global warming.  However, these efforts are often ineffective or even counter-productive if they do not foster an early emotional attachment with nature in children.

In short, we need to help children lean to love the earth before we ask them to save it…

For example, have you ever swam in a cool mountain lake?  Have you ever drunk from a cool mountain creek?  Or does your water always come from the tap or bottle?  Without these connections to clean, natural water sources, you might be lacking an emotional attachment necessary to truly advocate and make authentic greener choices that protect clean water.  You may notice a polluted river, but you may not feel the pain in your heart of knowing what is truly missed by such pollution.

Do you prefer to spend time indoors at the movie theater or mall?  Do your vacations center around resorts that shield you from the natural surroundings of the beach or ocean?  Do you fear wildlife and dirt?

It’s not too late to create an strong emotional attachment to nature.  Go hiking, go camping, go exploring…the options are endless.  Get to know your local flora and fauna, and soon you will notice how human actions are negatively impacting them.  Trendy or not, conservation is at the core of going green.

Image credit:  drdre/Shutterstock

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