After too much time away from our beloved landscapes, we all begin to feel that inevitable gravitational pull, tugging us back to that place that once stole our heart. For this month’s Mizu Mission goer, Laurens de Smet, a student at the Dutch Filmers Academy in Rotterdam, Netherlands, that place was Iceland. The unspoiled nature, geothermic phenomenons, vast rugged inland, and community of travel enthusiasts couldn’t keep Laurens and his father, Peet de Smet, away. The adventurous duo had travelled to Iceland before in 2006 and 2012 but this time they wanted to experience the beautiful terrain during the summer in a more intimate way.
“What was special about this particular mission is that we travelled with our own Land Rover Defender 90. It's called Panda the Landy. Panda served the Carabinieri (Police) in Italy & Kosovo and is now retired from official government duties. On this trip we drove from the Netherlands to Denmark and then took a two day ferry to Iceland. It’s very special to travel in such a remote country with your own vehicle.”
The nearly 40,000 sq. mi. island nation is home to some truly remarkable sites. Among these, Laurens recounts some must-see spots and things to do in Iceland.
“Travel the far and remote Westfjords, visit the inland (highlands), cross glacier rivers by 4x4 or by foot and hike mountain ranges to visit the most beautiful remote places. And last but not least, bathe and relax in natural geothermic hot springs with the most phenomenal views.”
Having been to Iceland twice before, Laurens and his father experienced a few extra memorable moments on this trip including watching whales visit the fjords, Arctic terns fishing and feeding their chicks, and seals sunbathe on the shores. They even saw Arctic Foxes roaming the Westfjords. Iceland offers no shortage of fascinating scenery and this kind of natural beauty is what inspires Laurens to get outside and see the world. He shares what motivates him.
“The beauty of nature. To travel unknown far and remote places and meet interesting people, with different cultural backgrounds. And of course to go back to basics.”
Like us here at Mizu, Laurens is a lover of the outdoor adventure to the core. He lives by one of Land Rover’s slogans - “One Life Live It.” This mentality has lead him all over the world, including another one of his favorite destinations, Botswana, Africa, home to unspoiled game reserves and national parks.
“Crossing the Central Kalahari Game Reserve and sleeping in your rooftop tent at night without any fences is a great and profound experience. If I close my eyes I can still hear the lions roar!”
From Iceland to Africa and everywhere in between, there is endless exploration at our disposal with inspiration and insight waiting just around the riverbend. But pulling the trigger to travel and get outside can be difficult. Built up hesitations and stressing over equipment can hold people back. Whatever the reason, Laurens shares some helpful advice to get your feet wet.
”Start simple, get a tent and go to a local camp, pitch the tent and cook your own meals. Try to make these trips longer and further every time you go out! One day you will just go to Iceland like us, you won’t be disappointed! You will enrich yourself!”
Getting outdoors doesn’t need to be difficult; it can be as simple as going right outside your door. Taking the initiative is what matters. Similar challenges occur with plastic pollution. Like travelling and camping, when it comes to reducing single-use plastic, it can be difficult for people to find a place to start.
“Preparation is key and you have to invest in some good sustainable products of course, like Mizu. And by the way: In the long run, reusing is always cheaper! ”
While travelling in Iceland, Laurens and his Dad used the Mizu insulated V8 bottle.
“It’s a perfect insulated stainless steel bottle that keeps your drink cool or hot. Cold water on hikes, warm water for a cup of tea in the afternoon or even keeping the white wine chilled, perfect for a sundowner! ”
Mizu products are a perfect solution for on-the-go adventures. But unfortunately, plastic pollution is more than just preparation. Amongst the natural beauty around the world that Laurens loves to bare witness too, there too are the disheartening sights of plastic waste washed up on seashores around the globe.
“There is literally a plastic soup in our oceans that is consumed by all sorts of marine life. Eventually this toxic plastic will make it back into the food we eat. ”
With recreation comes responsibility, and as an advocate for reducing single-use plastics, Laurens recognizes the real threats the earth faces from plastic pollution. We asked Laurens for advice he would give to others trying to reduce their single-use plastic waste. His answer?
“Just say no to straws! I have once read that every day in the US alone over 500 million straws are used once and then thrown away. Many of them end up in our ecosystem. So next time you order a drink, request it with ‘no straw.’ You will be surprised how much impact that will have by just cutting out drinking straws and spreading the word. ”
Reducing single-use plastic and plastic waste starts with one simple action. Everywhere he goes, Laurens remains conscious of the different environments and habitats he is entering and urges others to remember this as well. We wanted to know what “enjoy the journey, leave nothing behind” means to him.
“Enjoy the beauty of nature and leave footprints only.”
Follow Laurens’ lead and enjoy the outdoors responsibly. Travel, see, live and always remember, say no to plastic straws.
To read more Mizu Missions see our most recent adventures below.