The Time I Gave Up Everything



My quest in giving up disposable products reminds me of the time I gave up everything, in March 2011. 

Feeling very aversive to the way humans have our little products, these objects that we buy, these manmade things that we rely on to survive (I mean, we’re the only creatures on this planet that do this), I wondered what it would be like to give up all products and live off the land. 

I pitched the idea to my friends: what if we go out into the bush and learn how to live without our products for a few days? No tents or sleeping bags, no backpacks filled with food, no matches or internet or torches or luxury items. Going back to absolute basics. 

I searched online and found out about a woman named Rowan, who lived in the bush by herself for 20 years, making money off harvesting bush berries to take to market every once in a while. She now was doing survival courses, teaching people how to live off the land and what to do if you found yourself lost in the bush. 

So my two friends and I travelled by public transport to Casterton (near SA border) to meet Rowan and do a 3 day survival course  – the ultimate ‘giving up’. 

She taught us:

– how to make a sufficient shelter using only logs, branches and leaves
– how to determine whether water is safe to drink, and how to filter it/catch it from leaves
– which plants were edible and which weren’t, how to catch yabbies 
– how to start a fire

The only man made products that I used were a whistle, a mug, a plastic bag, a small tin, a knife, and a spade.

In the end we we lived (or should I say starved) off plant roots and tree sap for 3 days, we couldn’t pick up the skill of using sticks to make fire and in the end cheated by using flint stones, we grew tired of the ~1km walk to the river to get water, got absolutely eaten alive by mosquitoes, and I almost got hypothermia at night and then got heatstroke the next day.

While it was both a fantastic and terrible experience, what I did realise is that humans do need some products. I guess we have evolved where our tools are our means of survival. While wolves evolved to have fur, we evolved to have jumpers.

But so much of our products we can actually do without, and would feel happier for it. It felt good to be out in nature, and not be absolutely surrounded by plastic and logos and bright screens and advertisements telling you you suck and only if you buy their product you’ll be happy.

It made me realise that it’s all about balance, and also that I’ll never go camping without mosquito repellant again


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