The nature industrial complex

February 5, 2020

Ever stop to think about how much we consume just to be outside?

There's an entire industry that relies on the idea that we're all just a bit too urban, that going into the woods is good for us, and that to do it, first we need $300 boots and a $200 jacket.

But it's not just the outdoor apparel industry that uses the narrative "nature is good for you" to peddle its wares. The tourism industry, with more than a hint of irony, develops previously "natural" land into hotels, restaurants, and resorts—all in the name of "getting back to nature."

And it's not that nature isn't good for us. I have plenty of anecdotal evidence from my own life that when I take a walk in the woods, I feel better afterwards.

But perhaps the outdoor lifestyle is actually just another machination of the advertising industry. What if the outdoorsperson's desire to drive a Subaru Outback, shop at REI, wear KEEN shoes, and go backpacking is actually a manufactured desire, planted by advertising which alleges the benefits of going outside in order to sell expensive outdoor products?

The truth is, you don't really need that much equipment or special clothing to go outside. A decent pair of boots and a windbreaking jacket are a good start. Walk into your local REI though, and you'll be surely convinced otherwise.