How connected do you feel to nature and the wildlife in your local area? Do you feel that most days pass you by in a haze – your morning routine, going to work and coming home to rest and relax before the same pattern starts again the next day? It’s easy to drift through our days on autopilot. Even when we spend time outside, we can become unconscious of our surroundings, lost in our thoughts and letting the seasons that subtly occur each year move by in a flash.
To help individuals and families become more connected to nature, The Wildlife Trusts has put together a month-long challenge that runs every June called ‘30 Days Wild’. The challenge is an invitation to have a ‘Random Act of Wildness’ every day, such as walking barefoot on grass, reading a book outdoors or more involved activities such as visiting a local nature reserve, planting wildflower seeds or litter picking your local area.
The challenge has been designed as a gentle way to inspire people to engage and tune into the natural world but who are unsure where to begin or would like some help building a more sustained connection to nature in their daily lives.
The first week starts with sensory bingo – noticing the feel of the bark on a tree, the scent of a flower, or the birds that regularly visit your garden.
Week two focuses on small, easily achievable adventures, with week three empowering us to learn new things about the natural world and week four learning how to help nature. The final week is for sharing your love of nature and all you have experienced in the past 30 days to inspire others to participate in similar activities moving forwards.
The Wildlife Trusts introduced the challenge in 2015, with around 18,500 people participating in the inaugural round. Over the last eight years, over two million people have participated in the challenge.
The challenge came into its own during the pandemic, when a daily walk outside became part of our everyday routine. The ebb and flow of the seasons unfolding provided a sense of familiarity in a world that felt unfamiliar and constantly changing. 78% of participants in the 2021 edition reported that the pandemic had made them value nature more. As restrictions lifted, many of us returned to our familiar busy routines and began to forget the importance of spending time outside.
The benefits of taking part in the ‘30 Days Wild’ challenge
The University of Derby evaluated survey responses from over 1000 participants from the previous challenges over five years, from 2015 to 2020. From those participants who considered themself to have a weak connection to nature at the start of the challenge, 56% noted that their ‘nature connectedness’ rose, and they felt significantly happier. Two months after the challenge, several participants also reported a sustained connection to nature and a willingness to participate in activities to support the local wildlife, such as planting pollinator-friendly plants or volunteering at a local community garden or nature reserve. Participants also rated their health as 30% better than before participating in the challenge.
So why not set aside some time each day in June to participate in ‘30 Days Wild’ and feel the mental and physical benefits of taking the time to experience nature and wildlife on your doorstep as we move into summer?
Try these simple ideas to get you started with incorporating nature into your day-to-day life –
– Start your day with having your morning breakfast or drink in the garden or a local green space (or an open window if getting outside is not possible) – notice how the clouds move and any plants or birds in the area.
– Take the time to learn more about the natural world by learning five new facts about your favourite bird, mammal or insect.
– Talk to a friend about what you love about the natural world. – If you have a garden, leave a patch of grass to grow long for your garden wildlife to explore.
You can sign up for the challenge as an individual or family or as part of a collective through your school, youth group, workplace or care home. You can find out more about the challenge here – www.wildlifetrusts.org/30dayswild.