Planet Earth Games – Take The February Challenge
Founder of Planet Earth Games, Chris Broadbent, describes how we can all make a difference to the planet and to our own physical and mental health in fun and innovative ways through taking part in a series of fun challenges throughout February. Team BALANCE is signing up, why not join us!
The wellbeing of the population – young and old – and climate change are issues that have raced to the forefront of public opinion throughout the pandemic.
COVID-19 has been a time of reflection, review, re-evaluation and whatever the new normal becomes, it cannot simply be a relaunch of old habits – both for the health of the planet and our own wellbeing. There is little appetite for the return of the rat race.
And with each lockdown that sense hardens.
In creating Planet Earth Games, we were always passionate in our belief that there is a symbiotic relationship between the health of people and the health of the planet.
After all, if we don’t care for and nurture the oceans, forests, coastlines, moors and the like, people are less likely to engage with the environment and reap the mental and physical benefits of connecting with nature.
The benefits are twofold in Planet Earth Games, taking part is good for you, but it is also good for the environment. That’s a powerful motivator for a lot of our participants, there is a greater good at stake beyond just yourself. By doing your bit for environmental sustainability it also makes you feel good about yourself.
Like a lot of organisations, we have had to revisit the drawing board more than once to create the right model and in last year’s first lockdown, we created a virtual model to host a month of sustainable challenges throughout August.
Sustainability doesn’t have to mean sacrifice.
We were blown away by the response. We reached out to some of the UK’s biggest sustainable brands and environmental influencers to collaborate and set challenges. Just about everyone we asked, said yes, including Riverford Organic Farmers, Sustrans – the national cycling charity, Keep Britain Tidy and also Olympic champions Etienne Stott and Hannah Mills.
We were blown away by the response with over 800,000 participants taking part across the month. That’s huge for a small Devon charity like ours. It resonated with people and they responded.
Some of the feedback we had from participants in August was pretty moving.
One woman told us that she hadn’t swam in the sea for twenty years, but was motivated to do so by a Planet Earth Games challenge. She had forgotten how good it felt and would now be making it a regular habit.
Another told us how the Planet Earth Games had given their family reasons to take part in activities together and provided a prompt to discuss environmental issues with their children.
Others told us how inspiring they found it to see how many other like-minded people across the country that were also taking part. Social media is not all bad!
For a lot of people, climate change can be overwhelming. Where do you start? Plastic reduction? Clean energy? Plant-based diets? It can be a lot to take in. But we make the process enjoyable and that’s why we appeal to a broad number of people.
Sustainability doesn’t have to mean sacrifice.
Actually, it can be a lot of fun discovering new activities and trying new things like a tasty new vegan recipe. By making it into a game, people are much more likely to engage and take part. We have strong sporting DNA. We evolved from being the Devon Youth Games – a mini Olympics, if you like. So that will always be a part of who we are.
There is something about, sport and games that motivates. Being informed and educated about the environment is one thing, but an element of fun competition can nudge people in action.
As lockdown 3 grips the UK, we are more relevant than ever. It is a tough time for a lot of people, feeling a sense of disconnect from friends and family. But we have revived the Planet Earth Games for February to give people a focus and structure and motivate them to get active and do their bit for the environment.
Again, we have been amazed by the organisations that have come forward. Riverford Organic will kick off the month on February 1st and there are other daily challenges set by trailblazing football club Forest Green Rovers, award-winning Bambuu Brushes, sustainable beer brand Toast Ale, children’s charity Youth Sport Trust and loads more.
There are prizes to be won every day and anyone who completes 10 challenges will be awarded a special sustainable wooden Planet Earth Games medal. Challenges range from some of the more daring things like cold water dips to vegan cookery, nature walks, cycling and crafting.
Olympic sailing champion Hannah Mills’ challenge is to simply hug a tree!
I wouldn’t describe our organisation as activists, we don’t beat people up for unsustainable behaviour. We recognise people cannot make wholesale changes to their lives overnight. But, by educating, influencing and inspiring lots of people to make gradual changes towards active, sustainable lives, we can make a big difference.
And we can have a bit of fun along the way.
Planet Earth Games takes place 1-28 February and is free to enter. Find out more at www.planetearthgames.org