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Opinion page

Tom Richardson, Gear Editor of Climb magazine is one of the UK’s leading mountaineering journalists and has been widely published both here and abroad. As the leading figure in the Teko® for Nepal™ initiative he has also been invaluable to the RED programme in his advice on social stewardship matters in relation to donation projects in developing countries. Tom is also part of RED’s ‘Journey’ programme.

"As a mountaineer and outdoor enthusiast I, like many others, feel that I am subject to at least two contradictory pressures. The first is the desire to preserve the beautiful and wild places that we love and that give us more than pleasure, perhaps meaning to our lives, even our sanity.

This is a complex issue with few simple answers. It includes the small scale things like path erosion and parking, cairns, litter and signage and the bolting of rock climbs. It is also about the larger scale world wide development of infrastructure and the evolution of culture and land use by the people who live in and benefit from such places, be it reservoirs, roads or so called tourism development.

The other pressure comes from commercial companies, who are also trying to earn an honest living, trying to persuade us to acquire more and more equipment or clothing with which to enjoy our outdoor experience even more. As we consume, we use more natural resources and produce more land fill and indirectly put pressure on the mountains and wild places.

I think that there are at least three small scale modest first steps that can help a bit.

The first step would be to acquire less stuff. Buy only what you need. The second is to only buy clothing and equipment that will last a good while and then look after it. Most of our heroes of the past did relatively more than us with a lot less. The second is a change of mind set. Rather than thinking about replacing gear, think about replacing the owner of the gear. When you have finished with any item, offer it to someone else either directly or via a suitable organisation. What to you or me may be worn out might not be to a porter on Kilimanjaro, a Sherpa in Nepal or even someone else in the UK.

In this way we might improve the quality and durability of outdoor gear, increase its availability, reduce landfill, pollution and much else...just a bit."