The news is full of simple strategies, such as using solar power, which will reduce your home’s energy use and improve the environment. These small measures are helpful, but the reality is that humans and their homes have degraded the environment to the point that more drastic solutions are needed. If you’re ready to commit to an entirely green lifestyle, consider abandoning your conventional home and its conveniences to live in the wilderness. And if that’s just a little too adventurous for you, the following tips may help you, should you suddenly become lost on your next camping trip:
One of the first tasks you need to complete is building a shelter. In temperate climates, a basic tent will be a functional and simple home. If you already own a high-quality tent, use it. Otherwise, recycle used tents and tarps to construct a new-to-you shelter; include mesh for ventilation and repurpose zipper flaps to ensure that you’re safe from the elements. In cold environments, you can find refuge in a snow cave. Pile up snow, allow it to sit for a few hours and then hollow out a living area and vents. Snow caves are well-insulated but can be dangerous if they collapse. Follow a detailed construction plan, build your snow cave in an area that’s free from avalanches and always mark the top of your cave with a ski pole or other visible object.
Ensure access to clean water
Clean water is essential to survival, but 90 percent of water sources are now contaminated with microorganisms or, worse, poisoned with toxic runoff that you cannot remove. You can clean biologically contaminated water through three methods: boiling water, using chemical disinfectant tablets or filtering. Boil water for a full minute before drinking it. If you’re using iodine or chlorine tablets, be sure to follow all directions and replace the tablets when they expire. You can also use a portable filtration system, such as the LifeStraw, which is a simple straw with a built-in filter that kills 99.9 percent of waterborne diseases. Whatever system you choose, use it consistently to prevent illness.
Bring a guide to poisonous plants with you, and never eat any plant that you cannot identify. If you plan to hunt, contact the Department of Natural Resources to acquire the appropriate permits. If fish are on your menu, make sure that the rivers and streams you’ll be fishing in aren’t contaminated with toxins.
When you’re living off the land, you must be self-sufficient and prepared for all circumstances. Assemble a first aid kit and carry it with you constantly. Include a first aid manual, supplies to care for wounds, basic medications and emergency items. Bandages, antiseptic ointment, cold packs, aspirin, hydrocortisone cream and candles are just a few of the items you should keep in your kit.
You also need to prepare for the weather. Bring rain gear, warm clothes and a sleeping bag rated to at least -5 degrees Fahrenheit. In extremely hot climates, use your clothing to protect you from the scorching sun. Wear sunglasses, a hat, long sleeves and long pants. In cold climates, bring high-quality outerwear and dress in functional layers.
Living in the wilderness requires some basic supplies that replace modern conveniences. You’ll need a compass, a fire starter kit, eating and cooking utensils, a can opener and a knife, to name a few items. Carefully assess your basic needs, from finding food to sleeping, and pack the supplies that will allow you to meet those needs.
Not for the faint-of-heart
Living in the wilderness nearly eradicates your environmental footprint. You’ll no longer be using electricity or natural gas; you’ll no longer be eating from disposable packages that clutter landfills. However, making the shift to an eco-friendly life in the wilds requires you to be prepared. Make a plan to find shelter, eat well and stay safe in all circumstances. If you do, you’ll find life in the wilderness both fulfilling and sustainable.