Have you ever challenged yourself to dry January, no sweets, or doing exercise for 30 days? Or maybe you wanted to walk thousands of steps per day or beat your PB at an upcoming race? I once decided to cycle to work for a month and it was during a rather cold February.
What about following the same idea but this time for the benefit of yourself, your kids and the planet? I really don’t like doom and gloom tone in media shouting about time running out for the planet – simply because I feel too small to help. But taking small actions can make the difference. Today marks the beginning of a global movement Plastic Free July, which could be a great opportunity to challenge yourself to reduce single use plastic everyday at home.
But how? My guest Tobias decided to launch his own website Microvist to help each of us do good for the planet by taking personal or group challenges. We met during a Twitter conversation and I was really inspired by the gaming idea “challenge yourself” he uses to spark eco steps. Check it out and try for yourself!
Hi Tobias, can you tell us about you and your website Microvist?
I’m Tobias, creator of microvist.com. The Microvist website allows you to explore different ways of helping the planet by taking on a variety of challenges. The challenges are intentionally kept small, and you can choose between self-contained one-off challenges or repeatable challenges that you work on for a set period of time.
Once you’ve created an account, you can track your progress on challenges you have picked, or even invite friends to join you. As you complete challenges, you unlock badges to add an extra bit of fun into the mix. The idea is to in a sense gamify the act of being good to the planet.
What was your motivation to start it?
I’m a bit of a gamer myself and love mechanics of leveling up and getting better at whatever I’m doing. At the start of 2020 I decided I should really be better at living more sustainably.
I already liked other concepts for gamifying actions, like Fitbit for fitness and Untappd for trying new beers, both based on the same idea of unlocking badges. So I decided to try to create the same for eco living to motivate myself and possibly a few others at the same time.
Why did you decide to use an idea of challenges?
I wouldn’t consider myself an eco warrior, so I didn’t feel that attempting to change everything about my lifestyle all at once would end well. Instead, I felt that smaller changes where I challenged myself and could look back at what I had achieved would work better.
It was less about being perfect at everything, and more about gradually adding on and forming a few good habits along the way.
Can you give us a few examples of challenges available on Microvist?
There are around 30 challenges right now, with more being added regularly in the hope that there’s something tempting for everyone.
Among the ones I’ve picked up myself is the “Grow Your Own” challenge, since I’m a big foodie. I now have a few things I can pick from the garden instead of buying their plastic-wrapped lorry-delivered counterparts from the supermarket. I complete the challenge each time I’ve grown and harvested something new and am pretty happy with my seemingly endless supply of baby spinach.
Another one I tried nearer the start of the year was the “Plastic Free Week”, which was pretty tough, but fun. I discovered lots of local businesses that helped me out in the task and I massively cut down my single use plastic. It’s not something I continue to do every week, but it’s led me to some positive new long term habits. I didn’t end up claiming the badge, since I ended up getting caught out by a few things, but like with any game, I learned from it and I’m planning on trying to beat my previous record in the near future.
What else can each of us do to live more sustainably?
Taking the time to stop and think about small day-to-day actions has gone a long way for me in making better choices. Stopping to ask whether there is an alternative that’s not wrapped in single use plastic, or if I can get the same or similar product locally to prevent it from having to travel so far to get to me.
Small actions do add up, and while I don’t think it is possible to change everything about your life to become eco friendly overnight, adopting a more sustainable lifestyle bit by bit and forming new habits over time is definitely doable for everyone.