The Curious Environmentalist: 40 Before 40.

When I turned 27 at the end of 2018, I decided to make a ’30 Before 30′ list to make the most of the end of my 20s. COVID-19, however, had other ideas. I still managed to accomplish some of the items on my list but decided to make a ’40 Before 40′ list instead. At the end of 2021, I turned 30 and I am truly excited for whatever journey lies ahead for me. To make the most of my time on this planet, these 40 entires will help me make the next decade a great one. 

A big motivation for me to take the time to think about what I wanted from the remainder of my 20s was the fact that I spent a large portion of my 20s trying to combat my various mental health issues – which has been important but not particularly fun!! Managing our mental health is a lifelong project but, thankfully, I am in a much better place right now and I am determined to live my life to the full.

My 40 Before 40 Ideas:

I have a great support system around me, both family and friends. I am truly lucky to have my wonderful, supportive, long-suffering boyfriend who is always on my side and cheering me on. Plus, he is up for any adventure, so together I think we will be able to make the below dreams come true! 

The Curious Environmentalist: 40 Before 40

1) I want to go whale watching!

First on the list is whale watching – this is something I have always wanted to do. I’ve asked around and it seems like Canada is the place to experience this! But if you have any other suggestions then please let me know via social media!  The more documentaries I watch about life in the sea the more I want to see these beautiful creatures in the wild. They are so beautiful, so calming and so chonky! I cannot wait to experience them in real life!

The Curious Environmentalist: 40 Before 40

2) I want to climb the highest mountain in England – Scafell Pike!

I love nature (no shock there!) and I love to get out into it and challenge myself. Hiking is not something that comes naturally to me but what I lack in talent, I make up for in enthusiasm! I love the views you get when you hike and the various different plants and animals that live in the different terrains.  I want to continue to challenge myself and hopefully pick up some talent along the way if possible! I am all about a healthy body, healthy mind approach to life, so climbing any mountain or achieving any destination is a big tick off the list for me. Scafell Pike – here I come!

The Curious Environmentalist: 40 Before 40

3) I want to graduate my degree! (FINALLY!)

When I first put this list together (early 2019), I was approaching the end of my second module. This meant that I was almost a third of the way through my degree. I am studying with The Open University and my degree is a BA (Hons) Environmental Studies. The plan is to use the remaining years of study to increase my practical experience and get the most out of my, slightly late, foray into higher education!


The Curious Environmentalist is still studying…


I am currently (January 2022) about halfway through my fourth module – which means I am about two-thirds through my degree! I am really proud of myself for doing well so far, and continuing throughout the pandemic! I am working really hard to expand my environmental knowledge and get the absolute most out of my Environmental Studies degree. I have two modules left to complete, all running October through to June every year, so I am currently working towards finishing my final module during the Summer of 2024 – I believe!? That seems a long way off, but I am excited with what else I can achieve during that time.

The Curious Environmentalist: 40 Before 40

4) I want to learn to scuba dive!

I find the thought of scuba diving a little bit terrifying; however, I like a challenge and I think if I can get past the initial fear then I would really love it. I love watching underwater documentaries – it’s just a fascinating, alien world down there and I would love the chance to see it for myself! I also have a GoPro that I am itching to use, so I’d love to shoot some footage for use on the blog whilst I am exploring!!

The Curious Environmentalist: 40 Before 40

5) I want to earn money from freelance science communication!

I love this blog. I love writing and having a creative space that is mine to use as I like. I believe that having this space has really helped me with my mental health and environmentalist journey. I also love that my day job allows me to be actively involved in scicomm. I would love to be able to make this my career – I believe it could be something that I could thrive at.  I believe that as a community, we are building something great here and between now and 40 (and beyond) I am going to do everything I can to be the best I can be!

The Curious Environmentalist: 40 Before 40

6) I want to trek to Machu Picchu!

This was always on my dad’s bucketlist, but unfortunately due to health reasons, it is unlikely he will ever get to achieve this dream. Me and my sister have since vowed that we will do it on his behalf and share every detail of it with him, so that he can experience it in some way. This is probably one of the more important items on my list, it will likely be a once in a lifetime opportunity and something that will mean a lot to both myself and my whole family.


Trekking Machu Picchu.


Well, we did it! Me, my boyfriend, my sister and my brother-in-law successfully trekked and camped for 4 days and completed the Inca Trail. We arrived at The Sun Gate to watch the sunrise over Machu Picchu; we saw hummingbirds, wild jungle turkeys, orchids, rain, sun, mist, steep drops, lots of steps, sweat, tears, but also, smiles. It was exhausting but incredible. It was the hardest physical thing that I have ever had to do in my entire life! I am not ashamed to say that I wouldn’t have been able to do it without my wonderful boyfriend – he was amazing!

Through tears, altitude sickness and rain and panic over heights, he was there helping me along and never doubting that I would make it to the end. This is a huge thing for me to be able to tick off my list. It was an incredible experience that I am so happy that I have been able to do, but equally happy to not have to do again!!! My advice for anyone who wants to trek the Inca Trail, and see Machu Picchu, is that you should 100% do it but do not underestimate it. It was so much more challenging than anyone prepared me for!!

Hopefully this was the first adventure of many and if I can have my boyfriend (not forgetting my incredible sister and brother-in-law) by my side then I cannot wait for what the future holds!

The Curious Environmentalist: 40 Before 40

7) I want to go skinny dipping!

This is a cheeky addition to the list! Having felt more than my fair share of anxiety over the years, anything that would allow me to be carefree – even for just a few minutes – is a goal for me!

Plus, I have never gone skinny dipping before!! I’d love to have the confidence and care-free nature to do it! I’ll let you know how I get on with this one… not sure if there will be pictures though!!

The Curious Environmentalist: 40 Before 40

8) I want to complete a 30 days of yoga challenge!

I have recently started exploring yoga practice as a way to maintain a positive way of mind and to try and reclaim my body. I’m really enjoying it and find it a great way to stay calm and reset if my brain is running away from me. I’d love to continue this journey and complete a “30 days of yoga challenge”, I’m working towards this and learning the foundations first, but this is something that I want to keep as part of my routine moving forward.

The Curious Environmentalist: 40 Before 40

9) I want to climb Snowdon!

With my mum having grown up in Wales, we spent a lot of time there as children. I’d love to explore the nature that is found in Wales and getting to the top of Snowdon would be an incredible experience. I love me some adventure! I believe, as children, we were taking up Snowdon on the train, but I would love to feel the achievement of hiking and reaching the top on foot. I love to challenge my body and remind myself how lucky I am to be physically able to attempt things like this!

The Curious Environmentalist: 40 Before 40

10) I want to learn to knit!

I remember my nan knitting when I was younger, and I’d love to be able to recapture those memories and make some awesome knits along the way too! My nan used to knit squares for charity and my dream would be to make some of those squares and make a huge patchwork blanket to remind me of her and my granddad. I have always loved doing arts and crafts ever since I was a child, so it would be great to be able to make time for those things in my adult life.

The Curious Environmentalist: 40 Before 40

11) Visit Costa Rica!

During the course of the pandemic, I have had lots of time to dream about places I’d like to visit. Costa Rica is likely top of the list. The biodiversity is incredible and I would love to experience it first hand.

If anyone has been here and has any suggestions then please share! This definitely has the potential to be a trip of  a lifetime, so I want to make every minute count.

The Curious Environmentalist: 40 Before 40

12) I want to treat myself to a full body massage!

It’s important to take some time out and treat yourself – I am quite ambitious and sometimes I can forget to take time off and relax. I’ve never had a professional massage (occasionally, I can convince my boyfriend to give me a back rub – but really he does enough already!) so I’d like to treat myself to some proper me-time and unwind!


Treating myself to a Thai Massage!


Whilst I was travelling with my boyfriend in late 2019, we met up with a mutual friend of ours in Chang Mai, Thailand. Whilst there we took full advantage of the massages that are on offer there! Not my boyfriend’s cup of tea, so whilst he sought out a pub, me and the gorgeous Heather, went for a bit of a pamper. There are great massage parlours that are set up to help support female ex-convicts to build better, independent lives for themselves. A great cause and so we treated ourselves to a traditional Thai massage – which was really incredible! We were bent over into all sorts of shapes but, by the end of it, we felt amazing! Great massage ladies! I recommend taking the time to pamper yourselves whenever you can!

The Curious Environmentalist: 40 Before 40

13) I want to run 5km in 30 minutes!

I did my first ever ParkRun in 2018 and I managed 5km in just over 43 minutes – it was tough, but I got across that finish line and I was still smiling (… just about!) I may never run the London marathon, but this is an achievable goal which will help my physical and mental health. I have been trying to do Couch to 5k, which I am yet to complete but I am hopeful that this is something I can achieve!

The Curious Environmentalist: 40 Before 40

14) I want to go on a solo holiday!

I love going on holiday with my friends, my family and, of course, my boyfriend, but I think it’s an important rite of passage to go away for a few days by yourself, explore a city or lie on a beach. Just do whatever your soul wants to! I’ve always been happy in my own company, but I feel like I have lost some of the confidence that my younger self had – so I’d like to push myself to try and recapture this part of my personality.

The Curious Environmentalist: 40 Before 40

15) I want to stand on top of Ben Nevis!

There is something equally terrifying and thrilling about seeing proof of how small we are compared to nature. I’d love to stand on the top of Ben Nevis and be humbled by the majesty of nature. Adventure can be found anywhere. Ideally, I’d like to hike to the top so that I can feel that sense of achievement – I’ll see if I can rope the other half into hiking it with me!

The Curious Environmentalist: 40 Before 40

16) I want to go to a Michelin Star restaurant!

I love food. I think that good food is one of the great joys of life. I have never eaten in a restaurant with a Michelin star – I would love to try a tasting menu! Better start saving those pennies!

If anyone has any recommendations, then please let me know on social media!

The Curious Environmentalist: 40 Before 40

17) Learn conversational German!

I spent a year of my life, living and travelling around Germnay. This is where I met my wonderful boyfriend and we not only fell in love with eachother but also with the country of Germany. 

I am desperate to go back to Germany and why not rekindle our knowledge of the language too?! Let’s see how much we remember…

The Curious Environmentalist: 40 Before 40

18) I want to showcase my poetry efforts!

It has been a long time since I set foot on a stage or in front of a camera but it’s something that I once loved above everything else. I’d like to face the fear and get back out there in a new way! This is something that I have been thinking about doing for a while, I’ve been working on the content but now I need to work on the courage to actually do this!!

I might go to a spoken word night, or maybe do some video content – or both!? All I can say is, watch this space.

The Curious Environmentalist: 40 Before 40

19) I want to create a SciComm showreel!

As I have said before – I LOVE doing this blog! It was the accidental first step on my path towards a SciComm career. 

I want to create good quality, video content and then make a showreel to help me gain traction in the scicomm sector – I have big plans!

Make sure you subscribe to our YouTube Channel to keep up-to-date.

The Curious Environmentalist: 40 Before 40

20) I want to visit The Louvre Museum in Paris!

I love the romance that comes with a really good museum or gallery. I have a great interest in learning about the past and seeing the way they expressed themselves creatively.

The Louvre is somewhere that you always see in movies and I’d love to actually experience it for myself.

Have any of you been? Let me know your thoughts on social media!

The Curious Environmentalist: 40 Before 40

21) I want to start my own business!

The truth is that I have experienced periods of regular panic attacks when I am in full-time work. However, when the fog clears, and I am having a better day, I am ambitious, and I am determined to take control of my life. As I have said, I have big plans. I would love to have a business that allows me to work on my own time and from anywhere in the world.

Having this freedom would help me to counteract the effect of the panic attacks and help me fulfil my potential, despite my mental health challenges.


My Virtual Assistant Business.


In January 2019, I left my job as Philanthropy Manager at NSPCC and started my own business called RedKite Assist. This is a business that offers remote business assistance and allows me to work freelance for different small businesses and websites etc. I offer services such as social media management, email marketing, content writing etc. It’s been a steep learning curve but so far so good. It’s definitely something that I want to keep doing whilst I finish my degree as it gives me the time and space to study and focus. Whether it will be a long-term thing only time will tell but for now I am loving the freedom that it is giving me and the fact that it is allowing me to learn new skills that I can transfer to other aspects of my life, such as this blog!

The Curious Environmentalist: 40 Before 40

22) I want to make my own flavoured gin/alcohol!

Me and my boyfriend moved in together at the end of 2018 and we have an impressive bar to dip into on a Friday night!

I’d love to make bespoke flavours to share with friends and family. I don’t drink that much but when I do I want to drink delicious things!

Any flavour suggestions then let me know via social media!

The Curious Environmentalist: 40 Before 40

23) I want to learn basic coding!

I am trying to get to grips with technology and teach myself new and useful skills.

Learning to code would definitely be outside my comfort zone but you’re never too old to learn a new skill – right?!

Plus, I have loved building this site and I would love to have the skills to take it in any direction that I need it to go as it grows and progresses.

The Curious Environmentalist: 40 Before 40

24) I want to write a book!

I am definitely an all or nothing kind of person. When I want to do something, I will not do it by halves.

Therefore, I would love to write a book – they say everyone has one in them, so let’s see if that’s true, shall we?!

I have a few bits and pieces that I have started over the years, so I’d love to really dedicate myself to these projects and complete them.

The Curious Environmentalist: 40 Before 40

25) I want to learn to use a sewing machine!

Don’t you love a good craft?!

As a child, I loved making things, but as you get older you get less and less time to be able to do stuff like this. I’d love to find time again and learn to use a sewing machine so I can get crafty!

Maybe I could even start making some sustainable products that I can sell on this blog!? That would be great!

The Curious Environmentalist: 40 Before 40

26) I want to visit Ireland & hike up Carrauntoohil!

Despite it being so close by, I have never been to Ireland. I would love to visit, and whilst I am there, I want to climb its highest peak (Carrauntoohil) to complete the set before I am 40 – the highest peaks of England, Ireland, Scotland & Wales.

Life is too short not seek out adventure from wherever you can! Maybe I can celebrate with a Guinness at the top!?

Anything else I should try whilst I am in Ireland? Let me know.

The Curious Environmentalist: 40 Before 40

27) I want to go on a jet ski!

I tend to always worry about things and overthink outcomes and I’d love to be able to let that go and just enjoy the thrill for once! I’ve wanted to go on a jet ski for a long time, so this decade I am going to make it happen.

Sometimes the best thing you can do is push yourself out of your comfort zone and see what happens!

The Curious Environmentalist: 40 Before 40

28) Visit Canada!

I’ve never been to Canada but I have heard so many good things from people I know who have been there. This is definitely a bucket-list destination. 

I have such a need to embrace the remaining wilderness that is out there. I learn a lot from reading and studying, but there is no substitute to immersing yourself in the reality. 

Have you been? Recommendations always welcome. 

The Curious Environmentalist: 40 Before 40

29) I want to take up kickboxing!

I have wanted to start kickboxing for a long time, and it has become one of those things that I never quite get around to doing.

I think it’s so important to be strong and healthy, and also as a woman, it would be great to feel like I could look after myself if needed.

Any recommendations on getting started?!

The Curious Environmentalist: 40 Before 40

30) I want to visit Germany! (again!)

When I moved to Germany for a year I had never been there before. I got on the plane, pretty much at rock bottom and I had no clue how my life would unfold in the coming months. Germany is so many things to me including a beautiful, friendly country; a fresh start and the place I found love and acceptance with my wonderful boyfriend – my life changed in Germany and I am aching to go back now that I am on a path to a brighter future.
Mickey – I love you so much, and I don’t care that this is soppy and public. You helped me to change my life and I will always be grateful for that.

The Curious Environmentalist: 40 Before 40

31) Get a pet! 

I grew up having cats and I am very much an animal lover. I’m not in a position right now to get a pet but I would love to at sometime.

My wonderful boyfriend is horribly allergic to cats, so unfortunately they are off the table – but there are so many other animals out there to give a home. 

I work with animals right now (2022), so I can get my fix but before I am 40 I will have my own animal to care for. 

The Curious Environmentalist: 40 Before 40

32) Get a Master’s Degree!

I entered higher education a little late in the game but I am now dedicated to my path into science communication and environmental education. 

Right now (2022) the end of my degree is in sight, so I am thinking forward to what will be next for me. I do think that I want to continue with my academic journey but what form that will take is yet to be determined – budget and opportunity depending! 

The Curious Environmentalist: 40 Before 40

33) Start public speaking!

As part of my ideal SciComm career, I would love to be able to do some public speaking. I am not really sure of where to start to get this going but I am sure discovering that will be part of the fun! 

If you do public speaking, or have any advice on steps I need to take – then do let me know! 

The Curious Environmentalist: 40 Before 40

34) Walk the Camino de Santiago.

After accomplishing our trek to Machu Picchu in 2019, I want to keep challenging myself. 

Next on the list is the Camino de Santiago – a pilgrimage walk in Europe. There are lots of routes to take, so I am definitely in the planning stage right now but I’d love to complete this with my favourite people by my side again! 

The Curious Environmentalist: 40 Before 40

35) Learn Digital Art!

I love anything creative. I am not necessarily the best but I really enjoy the process. I think that art is a really powerful way to communicate emotions and ideas of the time – I’d love to give digital art a go to better illustrate the points I am making on this site. 

Much like a lot of the items on this list – I don’t really know where to start so, if you are a digital artist then do feel free to reach out and give me tips! 

The Curious Environmentalist: 40 Before 40

36) Grow our own veg/herbs!

I am not green fingered. It’s a bit of a family trait. However, I am determined to break the cycle! I bought a plant in lockdown (2020) and it is still alive (2022)!

So, I am tentatively going to try and grow veg/herbs next – start small and grow from there. 

The Curious Environmentalist: 40 Before 40

37) Learn basic BSL!

As part of my SciComm journey, I’d like to be able to communicate with a wide variety of people. British Sign Language is something that I have been thinking about learning for a while, but there never seems to be time to dive in properly. So, before I am 40, I will make time! 

Science should be inclusive and I want to try and do my bit towards achieving that. 

The Curious Environmentalist: 40 Before 40

38) Learn an instrument!

When I was a child I was musical. I played the violin, keyboard and I dabbled in guitar and drums. Plus, I was a singer. During the latter half of my 20s, this part of me has fallen by the wayside. 

I still have my old keyboard and acoustic guitar, so I’d like to get back into it a little. I’m never going to be a musician per se, but I’d love to be able to play songs to sing along to – just for me!

The Curious Environmentalist: 40 Before 40

39) Launch ‘The Curious Environmentalist’ Podcast!

I have had plans for a podcast to accompany this blog for a long time, but I am determined that the time to act on my plans is now!

Watch this space for the launch of The Curious Environmentalist Podcast -currently (2022) in the research/recording stage! 

The Curious Environmentalist: 40 Before 40

40) Buy our own home!

We have rented for a long time and it is annoying and expensive. We don’t earn huge amounts, but we have been saving hard to buy a place of our own. 

I want to build a home where we can work towards the life we want to create. I also want to embrace sustainable living, which will be easier when I have more atonomy over my living situation. long-term. 

Wish us luck!


We did it! In December 2021, we had the sale go through on a lovely little flat by the sea and we are busy putting our stamp on it.

We were very excited and a little daunted but it is a great foundation to build our life.

It is possible to buy!!! (just super hard and stressful… but worth it.) 

Although the pandemic slowed me down slightly, I have still managed to achieve a lot in my 20s and I am proud of the foundation I have ready to build upon in my 30s.

Some additional highlights that should be mentioned but didn’t quite make the ’40 Before 40′ list include:

– Escaping city life and moving to the seaside with my handsome fellah!

– Celebrating the 2020 Summer Solstice (remotely) with English Heritage!

– Jumping back in front of the camera to bring my audience video content!

– Successfully changing ‘Small World, Big Cause’ into ‘The Curious Environmentalist’!

– Getting my first step up onto the ladder within the conservation sector by landing a job as ‘Junior Aquarist’ at my local aquarium!

What have you achieved over the last few years that you are proud of? Share below!

Written by Rebecca Hansell.


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  1. The Curious Environmentalist

    Do you have any more suggestions to experiences that I should have? Comment below and let me hear them! I’m sure I will be putting together a 40 Before 40, 50 before 50, etc, etc, so all recommendations welcome!
    Keep living your life to the fullest, and enjoy the blog 🙂
    Stay Curious. x

    • Rhiannon (All walks of wildlife)

      The Galapagos Islands are an absolute Must-See in my Opinion! Conveniently the most incredible place to learn to scuba Dive! 😉 The underwater life is absolutely indescribable it was the best experience of my life x

      • The Curious Environmentalist

        Amazing! Yes, I would love to see The Galapagos Islands. Love that you have been there… not jealous at all 😉 x


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