29 June 2009

Vocabulary In the News: How Green is a Nudist Vacation


June 24, 2009
By James Kanter

A naked surfer on San Onofre State Beach in California.

With summer upon us, how many green vacationers’ fancies will turn to thoughts of nudism?

Going without clothes on beaches and other vacation spots is commonly called naturism — a description that implies helping the planet, as some practitioners claim to be doing.

Spending more time with nothing on stems waste and pollution in all sorts of ways, according to an article by Kathy Blanchard on The Naturist Society’s Web site.

“Living more hours naked each day results in a dramatic drop in my laundry, which in turn reduces my water and energy use (along with my related bills),” Ms. Blanchard wrote. “It also reduces the amount of soap I release, in my case, into the Puget Sound.”

She also advocates naturist holidays — staying close to home wherever possible, to cut down on fuel usage — but sometimes traveling to places where it is possible to leave the car behind and backpack* or paddle naked into the wild. (*used as a verb here)

“For those few days, we use virtually no fuel, our diet is minimal with low ecological impact, and we return healthier,” she wrote, adding that the “trips are coolly green clothes-free vacations.”

Where to go? France is already a top destination for “textilists” (a term some naturists use to describe clothes-wearers) but also seems to be one of the most appealing spots for vacationing in the buff. According to the tourist authority in the Aquitaine region on the French Atlantic coast, “ ‘green’ naturism is growing fast in popularity.”

Of the 1.5 million people who practice naturism in France, nearly a third come to Aquitaine, while “foreign naturists” account for more than half of vacationers in the centers and campsites across the region. (Presumably their fossil fuel use in transportation could cancel out any climate benefits of going clothes-free.)

In the Swiss Alps, nude hiking in winter seems to be a growing phenomenon — although some locals are trying to outlaw the practice, as my colleague John Tagliabue wrote this year.

The prospect of winter raises another issue: for people going without clothes, global warming may have a fringe benefit. Michael Hewitt says in an article in the article in The Independent that a few nudists seem happy that the demise of winter may be in the offing. However, others may side with groups like EcoNudes, which believes that living in the buff has “a positive effect on global warming, climate change and society.”

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