How Overnight Hiking Aligns with Eco Living

Australia’s natural environment, unique bush, creatures and the power of the weather has always amazed me. As I grow in understanding about the strength of connectedness between people and the planet, I’ve also learned a thing or two about being mindful of our incredible place. 

Our environmental and human impact on this planet is evident when hiking and camping in the Australian bush. Living sustainably and nature are interconnected. It’s very easy for us to see them separately, but we are more equipped for why we do what we do when we see them as one.

Here are six thoughts on how overnight hiking aligns with eco living, based on my hiking knowledge, love of people, our communities, and the natural environment. These thoughts – building resilience, creating conversation, valuing natural fibre clothing, minimal living, redefining comfort, and treading lightly – will strengthen our need for living sustainably.

Building Resilience

Resilience is the capacity to recover quickly from difficulties. Sustainable living is a journey, and we can face many obstacles and challenges to make it work for us and our planet. 

Overnight hiking, carrying a backpack 25% of your body weight, takes time, strength, flexibility, persistence and help from people around us to keep going. Reaching the campsite is the ultimate for taking the time to look back at how far we’ve come and how we pulled together to overcome setbacks along the way.

Building resilience helps us develop more substantial protective factors for when things may not go as we’d hoped. Compassion, gratitude, acceptance, forgiveness and keeping things in perspective can reduce our feelings of eco-helplessness.

The Power of Conversation

It’s easy to get caught up talking about the who, what, when, where of life logistics and easily get distracted with beckoning technology. 

Nothing beats a proper conversation with a wholehearted and centred focus on reciprocal talking and listening. There are hours to talk, listen, and share thoughts on an overnight hike, yet leave enough space for silence and time to let our minds wander.

Whilst hiking, we are 100% listening to each other,  taking time to observe facial and body expressions and develop the capacity for empathy.

All this good conversation is imperative for mindful eco living. It helps us understand each other, build relationships, practise excellent communication, share information, and gives us a new perspective. 

Conversations spark ideas. Stories within the conversations help us learn. Learning nourishes our mind.

The Value of Natural Fibre Clothing

Natural fibre clothing such as wool and silk are environmentally sustainable, and a recommended low tox option. Items made from wool and silk are mainly free from plastics and synthetics, are breathable, naturally moisture-wicking and durable.

Hiking overnight, a lightweight, quick-drying silk scarf, pyjama bottoms, and silk pillowcase feel so luxurious. Silk items take up absolutely no space in your pack and easily scrunch into a ball of nothing. Merino wool thermals, an Icebreaker beanie, and gloves keep you cosy at night.

Avoid cotton material, as it retains moisture and makes you cold. Wool and silk are biodegradable, suitable for sensitive skin and are super comfortable. These fabrics are a preferred choice, even for everyday wear.

Minimal Living

Taking what you need for any holiday is a learned skill. When space is not an issue, it’s easy to pack for the “what ifs'”, so we tend to take whatever we can.

Overnight hiking is a capsule wardrobe and minimal living at its finest. Preplanning and editing is the key for a minimalist everyday wardrobe.

Wearing the same clothes each day is essential to making the hiking experience comfortable. Minimising bathroom essentials to small containers, taking one sharp Opinel knife and packing food to the gram helps the minimal living approach.

Becoming more aware of what we do and choose every day helps us live more sustainably. Whittling down our “essentials” to key items that suit the purpose, avoid unnecessary excess, and questioning our possessions is a great way to start our minimal living now. 

Redefining Comfort and Luxury

Luxury is a state of great comfort and elegance and is often associated with materialistic abundance. 

Strip the meaning of luxury right back to being outside in the elements with a pack on your back. After walking up to 15 km per day and facing mini-challenges, luxury is sitting at a table and chair, abundant water availability in the Australian bush during drought conditions, sleeping in a warm sleeping bag, or having a hot chocolate for breakfast.

It’s easy for us to become complacent with urban city living, as we have these things available to us all the time. We must first sterilise the water we consume on the hike to ensure it’s protective from bacteria and protozoa, using the Katadyn Steripen

Reflect on your everyday rhythm to think about the small things that make your life luxurious and comfortable. “We are so lucky to…” is my favourite phrase when I share my delight and gratitude with others. 

Treading Lightly

Treading lightly on the planet is to have a light eco footprint or reduce your natural environmental impact. Hiking, walking and trekking are low impact activities.

Trekking in the bush, treading lightly means we take responsibility by carrying our rubbish home, leave no trace of our toileting and hygiene practises, choosing the best campsite, and following the designated track to reduce erosion and degradation.

Preservation and protection of our Australian bush for generations is possible. If we all tread lightly with our everyday living, we will make a difference in maintaining and protecting our natural assets.

Introducing a love and respect for multi-day and overnight hiking outdoors is becoming an ingrained family experience. Our teenage boys love adventure, challenge, exercise, playfulness and space, and our pre-children overnight hiking experience means we can do this with confidence.

We hope to instil in them that nature is the space to realise how important our natural earth is to our wellbeing and the planet’s health. There is so much to learn from nature.

The experience of overnight hiking aligns with eco living by being resilient, enabling authentic conversation, choosing to wear natural fibre clothing, minimal living and treading lightly for a better and more mindful eco footprint.

The more we are within and appreciate the natural environment, the more it will influence our everyday sustainable choices and critical thinking.

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