Frontiers’ Volunteers: February’s friendly competitions for good 

Frontons wasted no time when it came to jumping back into volunteer activities at the start of the new year, even challenging colleagues to join them in doing good with some friendly competition. This month, we talk to journal launch specialist and Sustainability Network launch team member Hannah Kulmatycki and portfolio manager and production team member Vikki Davies about the challenges to start off 2023. 

Photo credit: Frontiers

February Fashion Detox 

Frontiers’ Sustainability Network is an employee-run, volunteer-based initiative aimed at encouraging sustainable practices at both the individual and corporate level. Led by Frontons from across various departments, the network brings awareness to key issues that everyone faces and advocates for choices in line with Frontiers’ larger mission for enabling healthy lives on a healthy planet. The Sustainability Network organizes regular activities throughout the year, such as a guest speaker series, environmentally conscious events, and a monthly newsletter with helpful resources. The decision to hold a challenge at the beginning of the year took into consideration the factors many people face at this time of year. 

Photo credit: Marie Bubloz

“We had just hosted our first speaker series event of 2023 on doughnut economics and the circular economy featuring Zohar Ianovici, a development economist at The World Bank, cofounder of the Israel Doughnut Economics Community, and content presenter of the Doughnut Economics framework founded by Kate Raworth. At the same time, we were returning from the holiday season, where many of us had bought or received clothing-related gifts. One of the aims of the Sustainability Network is to help Frontons apply what they learn in our speaker series in a tangible way. It’s this mindset combined with the fresh start a new year brings for many that led us to create the February Fashion Detox challenge,” explains Hannah Kulmatycki. 

As part of the February Fashion Detox, Frontons were challenged to forego buying new clothing items and embrace the circular economy of their wardrobes. With several ways to participate, individuals could pledge to stop buying new clothes for the month or to donate or sell their gently used items. Those based in Switzerland were invited to join a vide dressing event in Vevey hosted by bazar as another opportunity to learn more about fashion and sustainability and to swap second-hand clothing.  

“It was important for us to make this challenge accessible so that Frontons could participate in ways that fit their lifestyle, while still encouraging them to reconsider their consumption habits. As individuals, there are many ways that we can contribute to a more sustainable fashion industry, including reducing the amount of clothing we buy, prioritizing sustainable materials, and participating in the circular economy by consuming second-hand items,” says Hannah. 

At the end of the month, the numbers were tallied up for the participating Frontons, who represented 10 out of 17 of Frontiers’ global locations, including China, Poland, Scotland, and the US. Together, they achieved 2,009 days, or 5.5 years, without buying new items, and 40 clothing items were given new life through donations or second-hand sales. Katie Burbridge and Rangita Dawadi were among the challengers who went the whole month without making a purchase and won copies of the book Doughnut Economics by Kate Raworth, the founder of the doughnut economics movement. 

“We’ve had a record high number of Frontons participate in our February Fashion Detox challenge and we’re thrilled to have such engaged team members. Though February is over, many of us will continue to apply what we’ve learned and remain mindful of our clothing consumption moving forward. And for those who may have missed the February challenge, it’s never too late to review one’s own habits or organize a similar challenge with oneself or a group of friends,” summarizes Hannah. 

From London to Lausanne… and back 

Challenges can come in a variety of forms. While the Sustainability Network’s February Fashion Detox challenge focused on sustainability and improving the environment, Frontiers’ production team took on a wellness challenge to improve their overall wellbeing. During February, members of the production team challenged themselves to complete 1,914 kilometers’ worth of activity, the equivalent of the distance between Frontiers’ London and Lausanne offices and back.  

Maja Stefańska Photo credit: PanFokograf

The process was simple: any physical activity done for at least 15 minutes could be counted towards the overall goal. The international nature of the team with members in countries such as the UK, Switzerland, Portugal, and Italy that covered a variety of geographies and climates allowed for countless options. While walking and running were the most popular activities, Frontons also spent their time doing yoga, martial arts, CrossFit, climbing, swimming, and skiing, among other things. 

“There are so many ways to move one’s body that don’t always involve covering a physical distance, which is why we opened the challenge up to all types of activities. That way our team could choose the movement that worked best for them and brought the most enjoyment. We also supplied a handy conversion chart so everyone could log their activity and the respective distance covered in order to track progress towards the overall goal,” explains Vikki Davies. 

When joining the challenge, Frontons were encouraged to donate to Mind, the UK-based national association for mental health. Mind provides advice and support to empower anyone experiencing a mental health problem. The association also campaigns to improve services, raise awareness, and promote understanding around mental health. 

“Physical activity has significant benefits for our bodies and minds. We choose to support Mind as part of the challenge to underline both the physical and mental aspects of wellbeing,” continues Vikki. 

By the end of the month, the production team had surpassed their goal. Together they covered the equivalent of 1,937 kilometers and donated £600 to Mind. In doing so, the team completed 366 activity sessions totaling 327 hours of movement. The Frontons who came in top in terms of the distance, time, and sessions logged were Maja Stefańska (374 kilometers, 57 hours, 33 sessions), Joshua Nicolini (257 kilometers, 33 hours, 35 sessions), and Nikolaos Anagnostos (136 kilometers, 20 hours, 40 sessions). 

“Though the challenge was only one month, it served as a good chance to refocus on our overall wellbeing and be more conscious of our activity levels. The mindset gained from this challenge of finding ways to incorporate movement into our daily lives, for example, with a walk during lunch or trying out a new physical activity, is something we can take with us moving forward,” Vikki concludes. 

About Frontiers    

Frontiers is the 3rd most-cited and 6th largest research publisher. We publish groundbreaking discoveries by the world’s top experts. Scientists empower society and our mission is to accelerate scientific discovery by making science open. We place the researcher at the center of everything we do and enable the research community to develop the solutions we need to live healthy lives on a healthy planet. Featuring custom-built technology, artificial intelligence, and rigorous quality standards, our research articles have been viewed more than 2.4 billion times, reflecting the power of research that is open for all. 

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