Our virtual experience of the natural world

This morning I awoke from a dream with the image of a clutch of blue green speckled birds eggs snuggled in a well-woven nest, fresh in my mind. I was, right at that moment, the 8 year old me. The sense of wonder that comes with seeing such a thing so real that I held onto it tightly as I dozed.

My childhood was full of moments such as these – quietly magnificent encounters with the wild that without conscious effort connected me with the natural world. I believe these moments made me the person I am. Someone who still feels connected to and therefore cares strongly about the world around me.

As I lay in bed reflecting on what the dream ‘meant’ I didn’t come up with any profound answers. But what I did find myself wondering, is whether, as our lives and the lives of our children increasingly become lived through screens and virtual experiences of the world around us, how we create adults with a sense of caring for the planet.

It wasn’t until pretty recently that I first heard the term biophilia. Very loosely it means love of nature, the affinity of human beings for other life forms.

My childhood experiences gave it to me.

I believe it is one of the most valuable qualities a human can possess. Because without, it, without that sense that as humans we are just part of one big natural world, where is the will to look after it?

Every day I hear of a new product that has come on the market that will help solve one of the problems we as consumers have created – A reusable straw, a household cleaning product that doesn’t contain damaging chemicals, a new type of energy generating wind turbine, clothing made out of recycled plastic. I hear about campaigns to change how we behave, what we eat, how we package, how we travel.

I’m excited by what I see. Indeed it’s these very products, campaigns and brands that will be part of creating a positive version of the future. A version that is increasingly hard to believe in.

But I hope alongside this never-ending, powerful drive to consume even ‘friendly’ stuff, we also find time to take ourselves and our children back to nature. Because if consumers don’t care about the world, they won’t make the right choices. Especially in a world where money drives behaviour and where making the environmental choice is often still seen as the more expensive option.