By Ian Hannam
Historically, naturism has offered many benefits to the world on how to live with and manage ongoing changes to the environment. The philosophy and activities of naturism are a ready made solution to sustainable living and they provide an effective way to take the pressure off many of the world’s resources. By the early 1900’s nudism was being promoted as anti-materialistic in tenor, that it simplifies life, lowers the cost of living, and curbs human needs. These days, we are constantly reminded of the need to change our behavior to ensure the world has a sustainable future. Moreover, the core principles and values of naturism are compatible with the objectives of many international strategies that are designed to make the world a more sustainable place. In this regard, naturism should be more widely promoted as a lifestyle scenario for sustainable living. Naturists are already doing naturally what many non-naturists aspire to. A textile-based lifestyle can over-consume scarce resources whereas naturism is natural sustainable living.
In essence, “sustainability” means improving the quality of life while living within the earth’s carrying capacities and this depends, in practice, on whether we can change in our attitudes towards, and hence relationship with our bodies and our living environment. To this end, the fundamental aspects of naturism follow a lifestyle which if more widely adopted would significantly benefit society in general. Naturism is a holistic approach to life, and is fundamental to “sustainability” by encompassing acceptance, respect and health of the body, mind, and spirit. These naturist values are critical to the building of a sustainable society – a society based on respect and caring for the community of life, improving the quality of life, and conserving the earth’s vitality and diversity. These personal attitudes and practices of naturism are in keeping with the earth’s carrying capacity and care of the environment.
Moreover, the national and international framework of naturism provides a valuable structure to help achieve a sustainable future.
Core values of naturism
Some of the critical core values of naturism for living sustainably, that other sectors of society should take note off, include:
Living simply – naturism places less emphasis on clothes and related consumer items and tends to focus more on simple-based approaches to living, including participation in naturist recreational activities in environmentally friendly locations, resort and retreats. These facilities place an emphasis on nature conservation and maintaining environmental values, often with minimal services.
Lower consumption of energy – the generally modest approach to life by naturists means they consume less energy than other higher impact lifestyles that rely on more elaborate households and higher cost recreational facilities. Most of what naturists require is supplied by nature, with less demand for sophisticated material items.
Low impact on the physical environment – all sectors of society access the physical environment for enjoyment. However, the naturist lifestyle focuses on harmony with the natural environment and low impact usage. Being close to nature increases body acceptance and provides greater energy to maintain health and fitness.
Sustainable housing – naturism, gardening, sunshine and relaxing in the vegetable patch can have a profound and positive impact on health and wellbeing, providing mental, physical and emotional benefits for an all round satisfying lifestyle. Many naturists approach their requirements in housing to be compatible with nature.
With an environmental consciousness, naturism tends to be more within sustainable limits of usage and less consumption of resources, while maintaining the quality of life. This approach to living is promoted by naturism for all individuals and communities to aspire to. To adopt this goal requires a change from textile attitudes and practices; and a more concerted educational and awareness program which reflects the benefits of the naturist ethic for living sustainably. For example, one area where much could be achieved in making the change to sustainable living is through the concept of naturist therapeutic communities, which may also be an effective way to attract more non-naturists to naturism (TAN 48 p28-31). If more people turn to naturism, our resources could be managed more favourably. To date, progress around the world towards sustainability has been slow because of the belief that conservation and development are opposite. Naturism can operate at all levels – in the home/individually, at the community level, and nationally. Because naturism has a strong international network, naturism is well positioned to promote its sustainable values.
Naturist principles for a sustainable society
The main naturist principles for sustainability revolve around respect for and living harmoniously with each other and the environment. The rest of society should follow this lesson and adopt a lifestyle that respects and works within nature’s limits, a principle which does not necessarily mean rejecting many benefits of a modern society.
Respect and care for naturist way of life – this principle reflects the main duty of naturists to self and others. It is an ethical principle and is based on sharing nature among different communities and interest groups, and between our generation and those who will come after us. Naturism respects that all life on earth is part of a great interdependent system, which influences and depends on non-living components: water, air, plants, soil. This element of naturism is less threatening to other species.
Improve the quality of human life – a main aspect of naturism is quality of life. Naturism is a process that enables us to realize our potential, build self-confidence and lead our lives with fulfilment. Economic progress is an important component of development and naturist living. Although dependent upon a particular level of available commodities, naturism emphasises health, freedom and respect.
Conserving the earth’s vitality and diversity – most naturist facilities are characterized by conservation activities to protect the structure, functions and diversity of natural systems. This includes clean water and air, recycling and regeneration of native plants, conserving biodiversity and ensuring the use of renewable resources is sustainable. Naturist activity has a low impact on nature which is in keeping with the natural carrying capacity of the landscape.
Naturist communities care for their own environment – most of the productive activities of naturism take place in groups or communities. Naturist communities and groups provide the most readily accessible means for naturists to express their views and promote their lifestyle, which plays an indispensable part in creating and promoting a sustainable-based naturist society.
Maintaining a framework for naturism –naturism requires a continuing solid foundation of information and knowledge, including a framework of institutions, groups and societies if it is to expand and successfully convince non-naturists to adopt the lifestyle. Maintaining a strong national and international program is paramount to attract more people to adopt a naturist lifestyle and increase the number of people leading a truly natural, sustainable lifestyle. The international naturist network and alliance must be adaptive, continually examining its direction to ensure the world is aware of the benefits of naturism.
Naturist strategy for sustainable living
It is essential the naturist movement maintain its effort in promoting its sustainable lifestyle benefits, in particular respect for self, others, and the environment. Nudity is wholesome, natural and healthy for all people, regardless of age and promotes positive moral and family values, acceptance of others for what they are, regardless of body type, condition, gender, physical appearance, or other attributes. The practice of naturism is also beneficial to one’s physical, mental and spiritual health – essential elements for a sustainable life. As a wholesome way of life, it provides numerous recreational choices for individuals, couples and families, expresses personal and individual freedom and liberty, and is relaxing, liberating, and comfortable.
Moreover, naturists are part of a community, which has a good understanding of the benefits of naturism for society and nature. This naturist ethic is a lesson that non-naturist society is encouraged to embrace. Living this sustainable lifestyle is a guiding principle for others to follow to improve their quality of life while relying on less of the “essentials” of non-naturist society. For a long time naturism has realized that the earth has limits and that we can live within them whilst still maintaining a good quality of life. The future is not somewhere we are going; it is something we are creating. The challenge is to make naturism a stronger voice in society and promote its benefits and contribution to a sustainable future.