Do Awareness Dates Have Value?

calendar imageHave you ever wondered why there are so many Awareness Days or Weeks? With over 800 of these celebrated each year in the UK alone, it’s easy to get a little jaded about them. The subjects they promote range from serious issues such as National Mental Health Day and Make A Will Week to the more frivolous National Chocolate Week. But why bother with them at all?

The main reason they exist is to provide an opportunity to talk about a particular issue, product or service. While we perhaps shouldn’t need a special date to discuss mental health issues, having a special day dedicated to the subject gives the topic a focus and the media, bloggers and anyone else a reason to write about it. The tactic doesn’t always work of course. Some of these special dates are too nakedly commercial or just don’t have sufficient news value (National Lipstick Day anyone?), but there are some that do hit the mark. So the answer to the question is that while not all have value, those that have been well-thought through and have a genuine newsworthy cause, can and do deliver meaningful results. Here are three of my green-themed favourites:

Earth Hour (March)
Not a day or a week as such but a single hour where people around the world are encouraged to switch off lights in the home, office blocks and public buildings. Organised by WWF, it’s a simple but effective idea that really highlights our energy use and has become a symbol of a wider message about living sustainably. While it’s easy to sit at home with a few candles, it is surprising how challenging it can be to not have access to electronic gadgets, TVs and appliances even for 1 hour. Fancy putting yourself to the test? The next Earth Hour will take place on March 28th 2015.

World Water Day (March 22nd)
With one in three of the world’s population (2.5 billion people) still without access to adequate sanitation, this is an important event that calls for action to end this crisis. Its goal is for everyone, everywhere to have access to clean, safe water by 2030.

Recycle Week (June)
When working for the Government Waste Body WRAP, I was responsible for this and loved every minute of it. We chose a different material to focus on every day during the week and TV personality Denise Van Outen posed in a dress created entirely from rubbish. The result? Lots of media coverage and events around the country aimed at encouraging more to recycle. It seems the Week may be needed more than ever following a new survey by waste firm Veolia, which found just 57% of young people are committed to recycling compared with 74% of the over -55s.