Big Issue Vendor

Top tips for getting outdoors on a budget from young naturalist Alex White

The school holidays have arrived so we asked Alex White, 15, to give advice to those who want to venture outdoors without it costing the earth

As part of our Youth Climate Action Takeover in April, 15-year-old author Alex White gave us his take on why children were striking in protest against efforts to tackle climate change. Now – for our Summer Holiday Special – we asked Alex to give us his top tips for venturing outdoors this summer without forking out too much cash. Here’s what he came up with:

Savour the extraordinary world in your backyard

It is typical for people to overlook what goes on close to home, but there is something to see even in the smallest of gardens. My garden is where I can witness everything that goes on in a TV soap opera, from murder to love affairs and from family life to day-to-day survival, all just a few steps away from the kettle and fridge. There are plenty of ways to attract wildlife to your garden. A summer project of planting bee-friendly plants, building a pond or adding a window box can help birds and wildlife.

Get to know your neighbourhood 

I think of my local patch as the places I can walk to – secluded corners I can escape to. Learn to love your local area, it’s the place we should all get to know, to notice the changes, the patterns that repeat themselves year in, year out. They are the places we should protect.

Urban areas are brimful of animals – so learn to enjoy them

From the foxes of Bristol to the peregrines on city cathedrals, and the thousands of starlings in Brighton to deer in London. Even the local supermarket car park hosts wildlife beauties if you bother to look closely. Places such as canal towpaths, railway sidings and churchyards often go undisturbed and can host a wide variety of animals and birds. Most large cities and towns have a park that’s worth visiting. Take a picnic and a camera and see what is about.

Venture as far afield as you can afford to

Day trips to nature reserves, the coast, rivers or uplands needn’t be expensive. Hiring bikes or kayaks can makes places off the beaten track more accessible, help us seek out adventures and make memorable experiences. Hiking through woodland or just out of the city can trigger a rush of endorphins and blow away the cobwebs. Planning in advance and taking food from home and refillable bottles will not only save money but will save on those single-use plastics.

Get involved in citizen science

Citizen science is exactly what it says on the tin, science for the general public. If you want to explore the local nature, learn and help the environment, citizen science is one of the best ways. Get in touch with the Wildlife Trust or local nature groups, many of which run free events over the summer holidays.

Don’t despair if you can’t leave the house

If you are stuck inside with nowhere to go or no means to get anywhere you can still enjoy the wildlife from your living room. Sometimes it amazes me how much wildlife I can see by just looking out of my window, not even putting a foot outside  the front door.


Get Your Boots On by Alex White is out now (Dived Up, £14.95). Visit Alex’s blog here or follow him on Twitter