The Spirit of Environmentalism Challenge
For the Spirit of Environmentalism Challenge, we would like you to create a personal sustainability action plan.
In doing so we want you to consider the impact that your current behaviours and actions have on the environment and set yourself some goals for:
- continuing and developing positive practices that support the environment;
- where possible changing or improving habits that might do harm to the environment;
- introducing new behaviours and actions that will contribute towards a more sustainable future for both you and your wider environment.
If you have completed some of the station 1-6 your notes from each station will be helpful in completing the challenge so you may want to gather them together before you begin.
You might be invited by your teacher to choose your own format in which to do this or they might give you a specific format in which to work (e.g. statement of goals, presentation, personal manifesto etc.)
The basic steps in undertaking the challenge are:
(1) Set your context (click for a list of prompts to help you think this through) Consider:
- What do you currently do that may negatively or positively impact the environment?
- What opportunities available to you for positive impact are you not currently making use of?
(2) Next identify from your list any good behaviours that you can build on (e.g. if you already eat meat-free one day a week could you make it two; if you sometimes cycle or walk to school instead of going by car could you do this every day?).
(3) Now think about the things that you are doing that are bad for the environment and consider which of these behaviours you would like to change for the better.
(4) Then refine this list by considering which you can realistically tackle (e.g. if you live a long distance from school and there are no public transport options it would perhaps be unrealistic to decide to walk).
(5) Now consider things that might have a positive effect on the environment which you are not currently doing but could potentially introduce through your action plan.
(6) Finally take a look at the UN’s ActNow campaign https://www.un.org/en/actnow/ and see if you can tick off each of the actions on their list against your own.
(7) Now create your plan according to the instructions on format from your teacher. Make sure that you include at least five personal sustainability goals and explain your thinking behind each goal in terms of its impact on the environment and/ or on you personally.
(8) Make sure that your goals are S.M.A.R.T.
S is for Specific – Be specific – what exactly to you want to achieve and why? Make your goals relevant to your current practices and the opportunities that are available to you personally. This will keep you accountable and will help you to visualise how you will achieve them.
M is for Measurable – How will you know when you have achieved your goal? What will success look like? What is your precise target and what is your starting point? For example if you aim to do more of some things and less of others you need to know your starting point and record it in your plan as a baseline from which to measure your progress.
A is for Achievable – The point of setting goals is to challenge and motivate yourself to make a difference. If you set goals that impact too significantly on your quality of life, you are more likely than not to become demoralised and give up…. But the opposite is also true. Remember – There is more in you than you think – if your targets are too easy you will meet them with little sense of achievement, and you will be less likely to push yourself and do more. Setting yourself a reasonable target is crucial.
R is for Realistic – Make sure that you are not setting goals that are over-ambitious (particularly if this is due to factors beyond your control). It is good to set goals with a sense of ambition but also wise to break these down into realistic steps, or mini-goals, so that you have successes to celebrate along the way.
T is for Time-bound – Set yourself some deadlines. No one likes deadlines but most of us need them to keep us focused on the task in hand…. Equally don’t expect to achieve everything overnight (see “A” above). It takes time to change our behaviours but every positive step, however small, is a step towards reaching your goals.