Have you heard of the bucket list?

As a bucket list is partly fantasy, anything goes: it could be bungee jumping, visiting the rainforests of Brazil, playing netball with the Silver Ferns, swimming with dolphins, writing a poem that gets published, climbing the Empire State building. The list goes on and on…

The reason I’m writing about bucket lists is this: the bucket list is selfish, it’s causing environmental problems and the bucket list is responsible for putting lives in danger.

Now, I’m not a mountaineer. I wouldn’t know how to climb a mountain. If I went mountain climbing I’d get into difficulties and would probably injure myself – or worse. But, if I have enough money (tens of thousands of dollars) I could pay a company to guide me to the top of Mt Everest. This is not responsible.

Each year, hundreds – if not thousands – of people travel to Antarctica by ship, through the ice just to see the penguins. It’s an expensive journey, though not as dangerous as climbing Everest. But it’s irresponsible in other ways. Both the Poles have are delicate environments, and the animals that live there are sensitive to the arrival of humans. Bucket-listers cause pollution and a disturbance to the wildlife.

What about the dolphins? “I’d love to swim with dolphins!”, you might say. Do the dolphins want to swim with you? I can imagine the dolphins reluctantly getting out of bed in the morning, catching the bus to work, doing their ‘swimming with humans’ session, leaving work, returning home for supper and TV before going to bed – ready to do it all again the next day.

Bucket lists are just a list of things to tick off: climb a mountain, run a race, meet a celebrity. Why not enjoy the experiences that you encounter for what they are. Visiting new places, meeting new friends, trying new foods.

After all, when was the last time you did something for the first time?

Being open-minded and accepting of all things that come your way is far more important than simply having a list of things that you want to do. Because if something comes along that’s not on your list, then you might ignore the opportunities that the new things presents.

Goals are good – but not if it means other things are ignored. New and unexpected things are often more memorable and surprising than something that you’ve planned all along.


Article written by Ben Egerton

[colored_box color=”green”]This is an opinion-based article designed to provoke debate, discussion and further inquiry
amongst your students:[/colored_box] 

[colored_box color=”yellow”]Critical Thinking Challenges:

1) Are bucket lists causing irresponsible behaviour?

2) What does it mean: ‘when was the last time you did something for the first time?’

3) Why do people have bucket lists?

4) How are bucket lists selfish?


[colored_box color=”green”]Practical Tasks:

1) Draw a top-ten list of things that you’d like to do. What would you have to do in order to achieve those things on the list. How many are achievable through hard work? How many require money to pay for them? How many would be a fantasy? How many would happen as a result of luck? Compare your list with that of a classmate and discuss them.

2) ‘When was the last time you did something for the first time?’ Write a story, give a short speech, make a mini documentary to explain what it was you did, the events surrounding it, your thoughts, feelings and experiences.

3) What would an ‘anti-bucket list’ look like? (A list of things you don’t want to do!)

[colored_box color=”red”]Have Your Say:
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2 Responses

  1. I think that a bucket list gives a life purpose and creates many memories. The environmentally bad side of things isn’t just because of this. The human race as it is damages the environment. A bucket list can be used for good as well for instance if you wanted to start a charity. I agree with the bad sides as well ,you have a strong point but you have to look at an arguement at two sides not just one. Sometimes it’s nice to list all the things you would dream of doing and writing about that experience. A bucket list can be good but it can also be bad, just like many things are in this world, if you want to create one use it wisely. 😉

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