Last week I was fortunate enough to attend the TedX Clerkenwell conference as part of a Future Foundations Alumni event. Whilst the impressive lineup featuring seven inspiring speakers ranged from social entrepreneur and co-founder of ‘Save the Date’ cafe James Smart to Chagall’s electronic music display performed with great élan, it was David Bond’s energetic presentation which left the most profound impression upon me. Bond, the self-appointed marketing director of Nature, recently created a documentary with Project Wild Thing encouraging the next generation into forging a deeper connection with nature and truly engaging with the world around us.
Bond’s inspiration for this film came about when he first noticed his children’s growing screen-dependence and ‘nature-deficit disorder’, comparing it ruefully to his own youthful adventures gained exploring the wild outdoors. He claims that this time spent with Nature instilled a sense of discovery within him and gave him his most treasured childhood memories. This is not just the anecdotal reminiscing of a lone individual however; research suggests that the increasing number of hours spent on electronic devices by today’s youth means that they will be the first generation to die younger than their parents, whilst kids who spend more time outdoors are on average healthier and outperform their peers in standardised tests.
So with all these benefits to going outside and enjoying the great outdoors, the question is why are so few of us taking advantage of this opportunity and how can we get more involved? Rampant consumerism and excessive marketing are certainly part of the answer, with kids these days glued to an ever-increasing number of digital screens and gadgets; in Bond’s own words, “we sell every product imaginable under the sun: now it’s time to sell the sun itself”. Bond therefore sets out on a mission to rebrand, repackage and rediscover Nature – the ultimate free wonder-product- using innovative and humorous methods along the way.
Bond leaves us with a resounding message: that we need to take advantage of nature to make sure that we fully engage and explore the world around us. The WildTime App helps us to achieve this goal by offering nifty suggestions for activities you can get involved in regardless of your location or how much time you have; my favourites include seed bombing (think of a snowball fight but with mud balls, helping to plant flowers at the same time as having fun) and foraging, a tasty way to familiarise yourself with your environment. So next time you have some free time, swap your iPad and sense of disillusionment with a pair of Wellingtons and enjoy the great outdoors!