Every June, The Wildlife Trusts launches their ‘30 Days Wild‘ project. The aim is to encourage people of all walks of life to connect with nature; specifically, taking part in one ‘wild’ activity each day for the month of June. I’ll be the first to admit that when I first heard about this challenge, I was narrow-minded and thought only about how it could effect me – as a wildlife conservation student who lives in the countryside and has a campervan to escape in, I thought the challenge wouldn’t really be all that different from my day-to-day. But the more I saw others posting about it, the more I realised this challenge is for people who may not have the privilege to spend so much time outside, either because they simply don’t have enough time or perhaps because they have limited access to green spaces.
The great thing about 30 Days Wild is that the daily activities are accessible and straightforward, including ‘eat a meal outside’ and ‘listen to birdsong’, with options like ‘watch a nature documentary’ or ‘write a nature poem’ for those who cannot go outside every day. The whole point is to foster a deeper connection with the natural world through small everyday tasks, not grand gestures such as volunteering for your local Wildlife Trust or changing career! While it’s amazing if you are able to do these things, not many people are, so it’s important to have lots of alternative and easy options.
Scientific evidence now backs up what people have believed for years: that a connection to nature is good for us, and for the environment. In fact, this is pretty much what my whole dissertation was about, so I could spend hours on this topic! But the key take-home message is that it is not about the amount of time you spend in nature that matters, but how engaged you are during that time. Research has shown that it doesn’t actually improve your connectedness to nature if you spend time outside everyday, but as soon as that time transforms into conscious awareness of your surroundings and your place in the biosphere, invaluable changes occur in your mind and body – and you’ll be more likely to take care of the planet, too. And this awareness isn’t hard to achieve – just try to take a little more notice of the life around you, and how unknowingly beautiful it is.
I think that is what’s really important about the 30 Days Wild project; it does not ask you to spend hours in nature every day – it does not even ask you to spend time in nature every day at all. What it does ask you to do every day is consider the wider world, your impact on it, and to remember that you are a part of it. So, don’t feel disheartened if you don’t have access to big green spaces all of the time – that doesn’t mean you can’t connect in other ways. And your personal connection to nature is as important as anyone else’s, so don’t dismiss it – nurture it and allow it to influence every aspect of your life.
So, if you fancy taking a stab at poetry (or any of the other lovely activities the campaign suggests!), here is a link to sign up for this year. Have fun!