"I went to the woods because I wished to live deliberately, to front only the essential facts of life, and see if I could not learn what it had to teach, and not, when I came to die, discover that I had not lived."
That quote, interestingly enough, is NOT from "My Side of the Mountain." It was written by Henry David Thoreau about a hundred years prior to "My Side of the Mountain" being published. Thoreau's point is the same point that Sam Gribley is trying to make in "My Side of the Mountain."
One way that the book relates to the environment is that it shows that humans are still capable of living in harmony with the land and the surrounding environment. We are so used to shaping the world for our needs with cities and manufacturing, that many of us simply no longer believe that a return to the land is possible. Sam shows readers that it is possible to take and use what nature gives without having to bulldoze it, burn it down, or mine it.
Another way that the book relates to the environment is by calling the reader's attention to the stunning beauty, danger, and balance that exists within nature.
“See that falcon? Hear those white-throated sparrows? Smell that skunk? Well, the falcon takes the sky, the white-throated sparrow takes the low bushes, the skunk takes the earth...”
That quote, and much of the book, shows readers the structure of ecosystems. Each animal has its place. In science class, that's called an animal's niche. Sam learns from first hand experience how the parts of his little habitat are all interrelated. The book is fascinating because the author has found a way to teach readers about ecology without it being in a boring textbook.