Time's up and the moment of announcing the three lucky winners of the MSR Packsoap Raffle is here. I used a D30 (that's thirty sided die for those not versed in the language of nerd games =) to determine the winners.
Congratulations to the three of you, and a big thank you to all the other ones who tried their luck! I'll contact the winners via email in the next few days to ask for your address and get them into the post asap, so that you can get clean on the trail!
Today is Blog Action Day, which is an annual event to create discussion on a certain topic. This years topic is Climate Change, so I decided to have a look how this affects backpackers and vice versa. I'm going to keep it short and simple, as the aim of the post is to create discussion, so I am looking forward to many comments.
Lets first look how backpackers affect the environment, both negatively and positively. On the negative side we have gear; raw materials need to be extracted/ harvested, then the good is produced, and ultimately we buy it, use it and at some point dispose of it. Lots of transportation between these. UL gear is supposed to be less durable (I call BS on that, as we take more care of our gear and surely get the same mileage out of it). Good sides: Light gear uses less material. Much of UL gear is made of recycled and recyclable materials. We use less gear (we don't carry three pants and four shirts with us).
Once we have our gear, the next impact we have on the environment is transportation. Those of us who can walk out of the door and are in the forest or hills don't have that problem, but most of us need to use one mode of transportation to get to our destination where we want to hike. That can be either in our own car, or by public transportation. The latter is obviously the better option, but might involve longer trips towards the destination.
Finally, we have consumables. Esbit, alcohol, gas and food are here, and I think we can leave food actually off as we usually also eat at home. Esbit, gas and alcohol are all not the best ways to heat a meal/ water, wood is the best option but its not very widespread. Gas is arguably the worst, as you have those canisters which can't be refilled. Esbit comes in a wrapper, and alcohol in a bottle, if I would need to pick the lesser of two evils I would go for alcohol, but no scientific proof. I usually use wood, but dabble with alcohols and esbit every now and then.
So how does climate change affect us backpackers? Our hobby makes us (hopefully) very aware of the global warming problem. We are out in nature, and can see the adverse effects global warming has on the environment. Be it warm winters which are without snow or summers which are super hot, we are out there. And it is in our interest to take care of the environment, as we prefer to hike in pristine wilderness areas, where wildlife is abundant, instead of commercial forests where the only sound is that of the chainsaw.
I see two ways how we backpackers can have a positive effect on global warming. First, we support with out hard earned money those companies which create excellent, environmentally friendly gear (made of recycled/ recyclable material, organic materials, etc.) and who support the environment in one way or another (1% For The Planet, for example). Secondly, we use public transportation to our destinations, or if we go by car we share the ride with others. Finally, we can take friends, children and family out into nature and make them see that our environment is worth protecting. I'm looking forward to read your comments and hope we can have a good discussion about this topic!
As some might know, I have been writing a few articles for the Helsinki Times newspaper, the first English newspaper in Finland. Here the links to the two articles.
Backpacking in Pirkanmaa is a feature article I wrote for the October 1st Travel Edition of the Helsinki Times. All photos (there are more in the print version) are from me as well. Really liked how this came out, my Mom got a copy sent to Germany and was very impressed =) I also was able to communicate my lightweight backpacking principles, which is the icing on the cake!
The Walking in Finnish Forests was an article for the Expat View column, where foreigners living in Finland give their view on a topic. Previous versions entailed how terrible it is to life for six months in darkness and that Finns aren't very talkative, so I decided to show that also other experiences can be had - Finns on the trail are usually up for a short chat and are very friendly.
I really liked this opportunity to write for a real print newspaper, its a bit different than writing for the blog as you get a physical copy. Also dealing with an Editor was interesting, they have exact ideas what they want to "serve" their readers. Choosing photos was hard, but fun. All in all a very rewarding experience, and if you ever would have the chance to write for a newspaper, I would say "Go for it!"