Can you make a big environmental impact by spending 20 minutes a day on a green project? I have a friend who’s proven that you can.

Santa Monica resident Sara Bayles made a simple commitment: To spend 20 minutes a day cleaning up her local beach for 365 non-consecutive days. She named her project The Daily Ocean and started blogging about it. And since her commitment specified 365 non-consecutive days, Sara didn’t even hit the beach every day — just every few days, when she could. As of yesterday, she finished day 198 of the project — so she still has a ways to go.

But Sara’s 20-minutes-every-few-days project has already inspired hundreds of people — and drastically changed her life. The simple act of collecting has taken 747.6 pounds of trash off the beach so far, but the impact of the project has gone far beyond that — even inspiring a short film screened at a special event during the Sundance Festival. And Sara, who was selected as an Ocean Heroes finalist for Oceana last year, has been profiled by everyone from the LA Times to KTLA.

Next month, she will set sail across the Pacific Ocean — spending 36 days to cross over 4,860 miles of ocean on a plastic pollution research expedition organized by a nonprofit group called 5 Gyres. The Daily Ocean blog has grown in popularity, letting her help raise money for the expedition while also raising awareness about waste, marine life and ocean pollution.

Okay — I realize Sara didn’t JUST spend 20 minutes a day on this project. That 20-minute limit doesn’t account for the time getting to and from the beach, or the time spent blogging, or the time devoted to giving interviews and interacting with interested readers, or the time required to fundraise and go on this 5 Gyres trip.

But you get my point: a small, near-daily commitment can achieve big goals — goals that may have sounded too big to attempt at the start.

At Sustainably Creative, Michael Nobbs has issued a challenge — The 20 Minutes A Day Challenge. The premise is simple: “Pick something you’d like to achieve and publicly commit to doing it. Then regularly (everyday if possible, but at least three or four times a week) work on your project for 20  minutes.”

What project will you challenge yourself with?

The Green 20 Minutes A Day Challenge
Can devoting 20 minutes a day to a green project make big eco-friendly waves? One oceans activist shows how a little time can make a big difference.