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There's a lot to celebrate at the moment. The world didn't end in 2012 - apocalyptic horror stories have faded from news headlines - and according to the ancient Mayan people, we're living in a new baktun (that's the start of another 144,000 days to you and me). This presents a new opportunity to send the climbing project that's been playing on your mind all winter. Or, more seriously, this is a new opportunity for modern civilisation, a chance to change modern lifestyles. What are your hopes for 2013? This article looks at how we could be happier, climb harder and consume less for the environment.
The bad news is that the world hasn't had a fresh start this year. A recent study published in the journal Nature Climate Change reveals that glacier experts may have severely underestimated future sea-level rise, as ice sheets in Greenland and Antartica melt. Evidence suggests that the world is fragile. Our ecological impact continues to grow despite the efforts of government, business and ordinary people to lower their carbon footprints. According to the UN, the world's population will reach 9 billion by 2050 and this will demand more from fewer resources. Our economies grow and living standards may rise, though we as individuals are not any happier.
In fact, high consumption lifestyles can make us unhappy, leading to "time-poverty, stress, competition for social status, disconnection from nature and a sense of meaningless". The answer is to keep things simple. We can be happier and healthier as climbers by consuming less goods and getting out more. With that in mind, here is a buyer's guide for the eco-mountaineer.
Seek out quality and durability
The UKC For Sale Forum - grab a bargain!
UKC Articles, Feb 2013
There is a variety of gear on the market today, from super-lightweight hard shells to classic mountain clothing that has been used, abused and loved in equal measure over the years. Consider buying products that will last, over performance-based clothing that could wear out with a heavy alpine season.
Learn to love your old gear
Repairing old kit also gives an original character to your climbing wardrobe. Whether it's retro, old skool or plain antique, hang on to old garments which could be your signature piece twelve months later. From personal experience, a friend wears timeless HH baselayers, thirty years old, still keeping her as warm and snug as the day they were first bought!
Buy second hand
Enjoy the real experiences
Sustainable Consumption not Anti-Consumption
Sustainable consumption is an important concept for academic experts as an answer to the problems of western culture – to consume at a rate which is sustainable for the planet. The idea of sustainable consumption emphasises positive lifestyle choices, to buy less 'stuff' and work less overtime. We can choose to get a train or bus to the crag, rather than going by car. We can make informed decisions to buy food that's in season and products that have been recycled. This is not about anti-consumption, but responsible consumption, which pays attention to our environmental impact and the needs of global society. By living sustainably, it's possible to increase our leisure time, build better family relationships and reduce our impact on the environment. This is a win-win situation.
Overall, the lifestyle of the 'eco-mountaineer' is better for your wallet and can enrich your climbing experiences. It's better for people and the planet too, which means we could be around for a lot longer than the Mayans first thought. That's something to be very happy about.
Thanks to: Lucie Middlemiss, University of Leeds
About the author:
Ben Lewis is an undergraduate researcher at the School of Earth and Environment, University of Leeds. As a Mountain Leader (MLS), he also writes for an adventure sports blog at: climbingwetrock.blogspot.com