104: Challenge yourself to a screen-free day

Cost of taking action: £/$/€ NIL

Take action: spend a 24 hour period with no use of any electronic screen

This might sound like a slightly strange action to be taking for the environment, but please read on.

Unfortunately, we all spend far too much time in front of our monitors and screens. We have our TV sets on continually. We have TVs in many rooms including our bedrooms. We are using computers for work or school, and then again at home. We are using games consoles every day. We are continually accessing our phones to look at social media, texts, emails, the internet, games and chat.

There is nothing really wrong with this, and computing brings many benefits of course. However, what it does do is it makes us all quite insular, it takes us away from nature, it removes stimulus from the world around us and in turn that reduces understanding of what is happening IRL (look it up if you don’t know!).

So our challenge for you as an individual or (even better) as a family, is to spend a full 24 hours not accessing any form of electronic screen at all. Turn your TVs, phones, games consoles, computers and laptops off altogether.

If your work means you have to use a screen, then make this a project for the weekend.

Let others know what you are doing so they don’t worry when you go offline … and in fact why not encourage your friends and colleagues to do the same.

What to do instead

So part of the challenge of course is to work out what to do with your mind and hands instead of applying them to your screen and keyboard!

There are many ways that you could occupy your time. It’s only for 24 hours after all, and for some of that you will be sleeping. We hope that you would do things that help to you understand the environment and learn a little bit about nature, but that’s not obligatory for the challenge.

Bike in country

Here are a few ideas with the environment in mind:

  • take a trip to a wildlife park, zoo or similar
  • go hiking in the countryside, or climb a hill or mountain
  • walk a canalside or riverside walk
  • read a book about nature and the natural world
  • take a trip to the seaside and walk the beaches and rockpools
  • go running or cycling in your local park
  • go out for a meal and experiment at a vegetarian restaurant
  • arrange to play a sport – golf, five-a-side soccer, tennis or bowls are ideal
Woodland walk

And here are a few other ideas, not necessarily with a green tinge:

  • visit a castle, stately home or heritage site
  • go to a football or rugby game and cheer on your local team
  • take a shopping trip to a town you haven’t visited before
  • tour charity and antique shops and challenge yourself to find bargains
  • walk to a local pub and enjoy a leisurely sociable lunch with friends
  • if you have young children, visit a new park and play with them
  • have a go at a hobby such as jigsaws, craftwork or needlework
  • spring clean your house from top to bottom
  • spend a few hours gardening
  • listen to a radio show on an old-fashioned radio set!
  • arrange a yoga or mindfulness session

Of course, there are many many more things you could do; we are not being prescriptive.

Why is this important?

Many of our environmental problems are exacerbated by the fact that often we are unthinking consumers, driven by our screens to do what organisations and advertisers want us to do, and under pressure from online groups and peers.

It is healthy for us to remove ourselves from that situation every now and then.

If you are the sort of person that can consciously relax and try to learn about the world around you that’s great, but even if all you do is take a break from screens and do more with your family as a result, then that is good too.

Take action

It will take a little bit of planning for many of us, because so much of our lives is around or screens, but please make the effort to take that 24 hour break. It is likely that you will enjoy other activities, engage with other people, do something a little bit healthier, and learn a little too.

Be disciplined, and enjoy the challenge!

Let us know how you get on by tagging us on your social media channels (the following day, of course!)

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