Ready to start the new decade on a sustainability high? Here are 12 different challenges you can take on during each month of 2020 that’ll make an impact in a small, personal way. See how many of these you can reasonably fit into your routine!
January: Eat Vegan
Veganuary is an event (run by the eponymous charity) that encourages participants to eat vegan for the month. January is a good time because the New Year health means conventional sellers are more likely to offer a range of vegan foods. The event also gives you an excuse if friends and hostile family members get too nosy about your new venture: “It’s for charity.”
February: Give up drinking
DryFeb is a fundraiser organized to raise money for the Canadian Cancer Society. However, there is no reason why you can’t do a similar pledge to raise money for a local cause (or, you know, do it for yourself?). It’s the shortest month of the year so you have better chances of success. Most importantly, alcohol production isn’t always sustainable, and the long-term health impacts of alcohol can be truly concerning – it’s a worthwhile challenge all the way across.
March: Meet the Maker
As it is commonly seen on IG, #marchmeetthemaker is an annual event for small business owners to showcase their work and support one another. Not a maker yourself? You can still participate by following the hashtags, following the artists, turning on all the notifications for them, and turning off all the notifications for the big labels. Use the month to learn more about how stuff is made, how long it takes, and what the actual behind-the-scenes are like.
April: Go Green
Same stuff every day too much for you? Why not try April Go Green, which is about doing all of the green behaviors and seeing what sticks? I think that’s a capital idea, especially if you can get stuck in a rut if left on your own devices for too long.
May: Race Challenge
Organized by Race Cancer last year, this is a good one regardless of whether you are just interested in walking a mile every day or running for five. It’s great if you can incorporate your daily mileage into your routine, such as your commute to work. You might be inspired to continue it even after the month ends.
Not a real one, but I was inspired by this article and I wanted to share it with you. For the month of June, make a commitment to learn everything you can about ONE thing related to sustainability. It can be PET plastics. It can be fast fashion. Or, it can be vegan cuisine. The idea is to learn as much there is to know about the topic and document it in one shape or form. That means reading a lot of dissenting opinions. You’ll come out wiser than before!
July: Buy Nothing Online
I made that one up last year, but actually it was a good one for me to do since it stopped me from shopping Prime Day. This kind of challenge is good if you want to focus on shopping local. And again, it stops you from blowing money on marginal discounts on items that you don’t even need. (Be honest: How many of you have ditched your Black Friday purchases already? Exactly.)
August: National Immunization Month
Get your vaccines in. Flu. HPV. TB, if you haven’t had a top-up lately. Besides looking after yourselves, you’re also making sure those who are immunodeficient benefit from herd immunity. By avoiding preventable diseases we help healthcare resources get distributed more efficiently.
September: Switch Off
September is when National Suicide Prevention Day takes place, which makes it a good candidate for a National Switch Off Month (or National Limit the Usage Month, if your job requires you to be on social media). With the growing awareness of the impact of energy usage and cyberbullying on everyone’s wellbeing, some time away from screens may just be the thing we need.
October: Go Vintage
Yes, Vintage October is a blog theme. Yes, I will make that into a challenge – specifically about buying only second hand during the event. Charity shops, reselling sites, Depop, clothes hiring services – you may be able to find real treasures that way. Plus, you would be giving old, unloved things a second lease of life rather than buying something new that comes along with plastic packaging, shipping, and more. Since October is the spookiest month, going vintage makes a lot of sense.
November: National Novel Writing Month
Yes, I am suggesting you do NaNoWriMo. Everybody has a novel in them and this is a good opportunity to do that, in the company of supportive (and highly caffeinated) like-minded individuals. More importantly,writing a novel takes a lot of concentration and effort. This makes it a lot harder to absorb the Black Friday hype, and it will encourage you to exercise more restraint come Cyber Monday. The overall result? Fewer chances of buying stuff that will go straight into the landfill with the price tags intact.
This challenge ran once as far as I can tell, but the principles can be transferred into something you can do at the end of your year. Think about how your year has been. Think about all the things you learned, and what challenges and changes you have identified. Now think about how those changes can be put into action. Do you have any sway on your local government? Any opportunities to get involved in volunteering? Any chances to change hearts and minds? Now is the time to do it – especially since Christmas goodwill is supposed to make people more open to listening to you.
Whichever of these you choose to do – if any – remember that the goal is to make a lasting change. That means consistency over time, rather than short bursts of activity or failure count. Good luck!