While the UK might still be in lockdown and the weather takes a turn for the worst that isn’t stopping Big Plastic Pledge ambassadors from taking on the 2021 Planet Earth Winter Games. Initially launched in 2019 The Planet Earth Games consists of a month of sustainable challenges suitable for all ages and abilities to inspire people to protect the planet through the power of sport and activity.
Big Plastic Pledge founder, Hannah Mills, helped kick off the event on Day 3 with her own challenge, to get out there and hug a tree. Which honestly, in the time of COVID-19 and not having much human contact, is very satisfying. Find out more about Hannah’s challenge here.
So, to help you understand why Hannah is out there hugging trees all of a sudden, we spoke to Chris Broadbent, founder of The Planet Earth Games to find out a bit more.
So, what is it?
The Planet Earth Games, as Chris puts it, is where sport and physical activity meets environmental sustainability. Throughout the month of challenges, the aim is to educate, inspire and influence people towards a more active and sustainable lifestyle. The team behind the games passionately believe in the symbiotic relationship between human health and the health of the planet; if we don’t preserve nature then people are less likely to be active and consequently, our wellbeing will suffer too.
“Our guiding principle… Healthy Planet… Healthy People”
How did it all begin?
The Planet Earth Games started as a children’s mini Olympics, known as the Devon Youth Games. This event was held annually from 2000 and included netball, hockey, football and cricket with young people all representing their local areas. In 2018 though the team behind the event started to become increasingly more concerned with climate change and realised that if they wanted to help young people they had to act.
Chris talks about seeing the waste from the event; clearing away crates of single-use plastic bottled water, packing up unused medals (having imported them from over 6000 miles away), all with a power generator chugging away in the background. Something had to change, giving way to a new name and a new focus.
With the change of mindset came several changes to the 2019 event. To start, no single-use plastic, recycled medals and a pledge to leave no trace. The events themselves were adjusted as well. More events for the whole family that could connect people to nature and help the environment; paddleboarding, kayaking and blogging to name a few.
The plan was to expand for the 2020 event but with COVID 19 turning the world on its head the event had to change again. What initially seemed like a road bump though has been a great success as now as a virtual event the team can host the event over an entire month and reach far more people, with the event in August 2020 reaching 800,000 people.
So how can you get involved?
The event is free and all online so it doesn’t matter where you are in the world, you too can participate! Every day for the month of February new challenges will appear on social media which people have a week to complete to be eligible to win a prize. The challenges are deliberately varied to appeal to a wide range of people. The aim is to have as many people as possible join on the journey towards a more active, sustainable life, not just for their own personal benefit but to help the planet as well. The challenges range from open water swimming and cycling to vegan cookery and sustainable crafting. It’s a chance to not just get competitive but to get creative and put your own spin on each challenge.
But can the world of sport really make a difference?
Big Plastic Pledge was founded by athletes wanting to help make a difference, something we have in common with The Planet Earth Games. So we wanted to know Chris’s opinion on the matter.
“Sport is such a powerful driver of change. It’s triable and there is real power in that. We see that in social movements like Black Lives Matter. Sport can lead the way. But it’s two way. Polls regularly show how the public are more tuned in to environmental issues than ever before and that’s consistently increasing. Sustainability is a real consideration for great swathes of the public and part of their consideration when choosing which brand and businesses they engage with and ultimately spend their hard-earned money.
“Sport has to be at the forefront of best practice, for the greater environmental good, but also to retain and grow their audiences”
So rather than just sitting inside deciding what to binge on Netflix this lockdown, check out the Planet Earth Games website and see what challenges you can take on to get active, have fun and make a difference.