The Path Ahead

Inside, do you want to be outside?

Without realizing it, we are becoming the world's first indoor species.
Are we too late to change course?

The Crossroads
If you spend time in nature, odds are you’ll see the importance of the outdoors. You’ll feel the calming power of simply being outside, the connection to something bigger. And it’s not surprising, because we used to spend our entire lives there. But unfortunately, today many of us are disconnected from our natural habitat.

The average American spends 95 percent of their life indoors. As a result, we are becoming an indoor species, which comes with consequences. Our health and well-being may suffer. And the less we value our outdoor spaces, the less likely we are to protect them. It’s a slippery slope.

The long march indoors is not inevitable. We’re at a crossroads. Our decisions now will dictate our future. The Path Ahead captures trends that affect the future of life outdoors. It doesn’t present all the answers. It’s designed to provoke discussion by exploring nine ‘brutal truths’ juxtaposed with nine ‘beautiful possibilities,’ which we’ll highlight on REI social media through Thanksgiving.

Together, they paint a picture of what could happen if we stay inside as a species, or #OptOutside. It’s time to choose.

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“In nature, nothing is perfect
and everything is perfect.”
Alice Walker, novelist and poet

Lost Generation

“No one will protect what they don’t care about and no one will care about what they have never experienced.”
Sir David Attenborough,
broadcaster and naturalist

Wild Generation

“Time in nature is not leisure time; it's an essential investment in our children’s health.”
Richard Louv,
author and journalist

Indoor Species

“We are bleeding at the roots because we are cut off from the earth and sun and stars.”
D.H. Lawrence,

Free Range Humans

“Wildness reminds us what it means to be human, what we are connected to rather than what we are separate from.”
Terry Tempest Williams,
author and conservationist

Urban Sprawl

"Soon our only experience of nature will be rats and pigeons."
Hunter Lovins,
Natural Capitalism Solutions

Wild Cities

“There is now scientific evidence of some really powerful, positive things that happen to people when they experience nature in cities”
Kathleen Wolf,
social scientist

All Work, No Play

“The biggest reason that we have found that people are not getting out is time. When you think about busy, working families…you know, it’s very difficult.”
Rue Mapp,
founder, Outdoor Afro


“I go to nature every day for inspiration in the day’s work.”
Frank Lloyd Wright,

Sick and Sad

“We are sitting ourselves to death.”
Dr. James Levine,
Mayo Clinic

Nature Rx

“A drop of nature is like a drop of morphine to the brain”
Dr. Eva M. Selhub,
co-author of "Your Brain on Nature"

Virtual World

“National parks risk obsolescence in the eyes of an increasingly distracted demographic.”
Jonathan Jarvis,
director of National Park Service

Augmented Outdoors

“Technology isn’t going to solve all the conservation problems of today, but it can be a fantastic tool in the tool box.”
Lucas Joppa,
Technology for Nature

Niche Nature

“When you don’t see yourself represented, it’s easy to think you’re not welcome, either subconsciously or consciously.”
Participant at 2017 LGBTQ Outdoor Summit

Outdoors for All

"The outdoors is for all, and it is more empowering when we create opportunities and support one another’s voices in this work, welcoming each other into our respective stories."
Jose Gonzalez,
founder of Latino Outdoors

Turf Wars

“The economic invisibility of nature is a root cause of the problem of ecosystem degradation and biodiversity loss”
Pavan Sukhdev,
head of UNEP’s Green Economy Initiative

Natural Economy

“The outdoor recreation economy has always been a vital element in the fabric of our country. We’re particularly proud to contribute 7.6 million good jobs.”
Jerry Stritzke,

Post Nature World

“Climate change has happened because of human behavior, therefore it’s only natural it should be us, human beings, to address this issue.”
Ban Ki Moon,
Former Secretary General, the United Nations

The Outside Chance

“I call myself a stubborn climate optimist. And I invite you all to be stubborn optimists.”
Christiana Figueres,
Former Executive Secretary of the UNFCCC