EcoChallenge Day 10: Inspiring Change Across the Globe

From 5-minute showers and zero-waste parties to time in nature, EcoChallengers are inspring change across the globe.

Hard to believe, but we’re more than halfway through EcoChallenge. We’re humbled by the outpouring of support and enthusiasm we’re receiving and reading on the Participant Feed.

As of today, Day 10, we have over 11,800 participants on over 630 teams. We’ve already saved over 75,000 pounds of CO2 from entering the atmosphere, as well as conserved over 200,000 gallons of water. We’ve helped over 600 people and volunteered over 700 hours in our communities. 4,700 miles have been travelled by carpool – and we’ve written over 250 letters or emails to public officials about issues we care about. Wow! You can check out our collective impact to date here.

Liz Zavodsky is working on reducing food packaging and waste.

Today I had the chance to check-in with several members of the Northwest Earth Institute staff on how their EcoChallenges are going. Liz Zavodsky, Director of Membership and Engagement, is “loving the various groups and individuals doing the EcoChallenge this year, representing regions all over the globe.” She is learning a ton about waste and specifically plastic. Liz shared, “I chose my challenges because I realized how much I relied on recycling to deal with plastic, and what I really need to do is work on reducing my consumption of plastics all together.”

NWEI’s Executive Director, David Macek, shared, “I have been so amazed by the commitments of communities, small and large, and their contagious encouragement to each other. This year, my main goal was to setup a compost system at our home. I am happy to say it’s complete and working great. I was most surprised by how it easy it was to do. It’s really cutting down our waste and I was able to use our dried-out bamboo grass as the brown matter. We’re excited to see the first batch of soil!”

Rob Greenfield, shown here carrying his trash for 30 days last year, is heading up this year’s 2nd place EcoChallenge team

Lacy Cagle, Director of Learning, is doing a zero waste challenge. She is carrying her personal trash with her at all times in order to raise awareness about waste. “I’m glad I decided to carry my trash around with me. It makes the commitment so much more real because I don’t want to have to carry a lot of stuff. I’ve realized that I actually don’t know much about making less waste and have started doing things like making my own yogurt and my own dog food (well not mine, but Huey’s!) in order to reduce my waste. I think my main problem lies in the “exceptions” I make on waste more often than I should.”

Erin Fitzgerald, NWEI’s Marketing Manager, shared that the EcoChallenge is making her aware of areas she wants to work on and be stronger in. She’s spending more time in nature, upping her education on issues related to public land and being sure to share what she’s learning with others. She’s also finding out where to recycle those hard-to-recycle items.

As we head into the final stretch of EcoChallenge 2017, Mount Hood Community College is in 1st place, looking to defend their title from last year. Rob Greenfield’s team is in 2nd place, with nearly 600 team members. Ecova is in 3rd place, followed by Delran Middle School in 4th place. As always, we are so inspired by people coming from all sectors and walks of life to prove that anyone and everyone can indeed create change.

*Haven’t joined yet? It isn’t too late! You can still join here, and help us reach 12,000 participants before October 25th. 


EcoChallenge Day 7: Gratitude

We’re now one week into the 2017 EcoChallenge and with over 11,100 participants (and counting), our collective action is already adding up. We’ve prevented over 41,400 pounds of CO2 from entering the atmosphere, conserved over 114,000 gallons of water, travelled more than 8,000 miles by alternative transportation, and spent over 64,000 minutes outside. We’ve also volunteered in our communities for 395 hours this week! Our strength has always been in our numbers and thanks to you, our numbers are only going in one direction throughout the duration of EcoChallenge. You can watch our collective impact add up here.

We also want to share our gratitude for the thirty organizations who are sponsoring this year’s EcoChallenge in a variety of ways. A special thanks to our title sponsors, Portland General Electric, Chinook Book and NW Natural. Thanks too to our contributing sponsors, supporting sponsors and in-kind sponsors. Truly, this event would not be possible without the support of so many amazing organizations. You can learn about all the EcoChallenge sponsors here.

And – it isn’t too late to join! You can sign up for the final week of the EcoChallenge now, and join the Northwest Earth Institute Community Team. As EcoChallenger Kaitlyn Williams reminds us, “It is amazing how much of an impact one choice can make!”


EcoChallenge Day 3: Stories to Inspire

Share your EcoChallenge via social media with the hashtag #EcoChallenge 

It is day #3 of NWEI’s 9th Annual EcoChallenge and we have over 600 teams and 10,600 participants on board! It’s an all-time record for us and we’re excited beyond measure. (And if you haven’t yet joined, you still can!) In just two and half short days we’ve already saved over 16,000 pounds of CO2 from entering the atmosphere, and over 47,000 gallons of water have been conserved. We’ve travelled 705 miles by carpool, eaten over 350 zero waste meals and reached out via phone, email or letter to public officials about issues we care about over 90 times. Wow!

We’re always inspired by not only the impact we make – but also the stories of change that emerge during the EcoChallenge. EcoChallenger Chris Kane, who heads up the ‘For the Better’ EcoChallenge team with his friends and family, sums it up well. “For the past several years I’ve participated in the EcoChallenge and each year I enjoy it more and more.  Besides enjoying it, I have to say that each year I am inspired by the actions of others and my particular challenges as well. No matter how much I think I know or how much I think I already do, the EcoChallenge always seems to bring fresh insights and new perspectives which help me along my journey.”

This year we have the Estonian Green Movement joining us for the first time with their team Go Green Estonia! With over 170 team members, they are visiting farmers markets, starting recycling programs at work, diverting waste from landfills and installing toilet tank banks. Team member Meriliis Kotkas shared, “I am so excited that I joined this year’s EcoChallenge. I organized this kind of challenge myself in my home country in the early spring. I am looking forward to learning, being inspired and going greener with NWEI’s EcoChallenge.”

Share your EcoChallenge “Why” via social media with the hashtag “EcoChallengeWhy”

We’re also inspired by the scores of college teams joining as part of Campus Sustainability Month – with Mount Hood Community College (last year’s 1st place team) currently in 2nd place with over 200 team members. As of today they’ve already mananged to change 130 light bulbs! Leading the business teams are the Ecova AllStars. With over 250 team members, they are carpooling, eating locally sourced and organic meals, diverting waste and cutting back on CO2 emissions. Since Wednesday’s kick-off, team members have already volunteered 24 hours in their communities.

Our top K-12 school team is Delran Middle School in New Jersey, with over 260 students participating. They are focusing on changing daily routines, with an emphasis on conserving water and energy. The students wore green this week in honor of EcoChallenge kicking off – and one student, Joao, has already switched to clean energy since the Challenge began.

EcoChallenger Rema Davis reminds us of the power of people coming together. “Just one small change, repeated, can lead to big results,” she shared. If you haven’t yet joined, you can join the fun today here

Today is the Day! EcoChallenge 2017 Kicks Off

The day has finally arrived – the start of the 2017 EcoChallenge! If you’ve accepted the Challenge, thank you. If not, we hope you’ll join the thousands of EcoChallengers who’ve stepped up to prove that small actions add up to real change. If you’re signed up, you can start checking in to log your actions now. The new platform is mobile friendly, so you can now check-in on your phone. And, it isn’t too late to join in the fun. It’s also not too late to invite friends, family, or co-works to join you. You can create your own team or join the Northwest Earth Institute Community Team here.

To celebrate Day 1 of EcoChallenge, we’re having a fun EcoChallenge ‘Selfie’ contest. Many of you have shared with us your reason for taking action in this year’s EcoChallenge. It has been incredibly inspiring—too inspiring to keep to ourselves, which gave us an idea. Share your “Why” for taking action and then post it to your personal Facebook, Instagram, or Twitter page using the hashtag #EcoChallenge. You can use these as guiding templates. If you’re not on social media, post it to the EcoChallenge Participant Feed. Share your EcoChallenge ‘Selfie’ by October 13 and you’ll be eligible to win 100 EcoChallenge bonus points. Points can add up to some pretty amazing prizes! We’ll notify the lucky winner on October 17. Read complete giveaway rules and details here.

Here we go! Here’s to two weeks of great impact – and great fun, too.

Teams to Watch in the 2017 EcoChallenge

One of the things we love about the EcoChallenge is how it brings people together from all walks of life, proving that small actions add up to real change. We have over 530 teams and 7,400 participants signed up to date, with businesses, government offices, churches, student groups, colleges and non-profit organizations participating. We are also excited that Delran Middle School in New Jersey is back this year, with over 250 students signed up!

Here are some teams to watch as we get ready to kickoff the EcoChallenge this Wednesday, October 11th. And, if you haven’t yet registered, you can still join in the fun now! Not ready to create your own team? You can always join the Northwest Earth Institute Community Team.

Rob Greenfield Team – This year we have Rob Greenfield, an environmental activist, speaker and writer, joining us with a team of over 380 EcoChallengers signed up so far. Rob created the Food Waste Fiasco campaign which strives to end food waste and hunger in the United States. He has also cycled across the U.S. twice on a bamboo bicycle sharing his message of sustainability and earth-friendly living. He’s joining EcoChallenge for the first time this year. He shared, “When I started my journey to living a more happy, healthy and sustainable life in 2011, I learned that great change doesn’t happen overnight. It starts with one small step, and then another, and another. The EcoChallenge is perfect for taking that first step, the 50th step, or the 100th step. If we expect the world to change we must change ourselves first. Let’s work together to transform our lives, one small step at a time.”

Penn State EcoChallenge 2017 Penn State is joining EcoChallenge for the first time this year, but is heading up the university teams with nearly 300 participants. “We believe the solution to the planet’s biggest challenges lies in the power of collective action,” said Daniella Espinoza, student in energy business and finance and co-organizer of Penn State’s EcoChallenge team. “Our participation in the EcoChallenge is important because it helps us all to take personal action, be mindful of our ecological footprint, and conversationally engage our peers, colleagues and community on sustainability issues,” said Paul Shrivastava, Penn State’s chief sustainability officer and director of the Sustainability Institute. They are well on their way to meeting their goal of exceeding the size of last year’s largest EcoChallenge team, which was 580.

Story of Stuff TeamStory of Stuff is back again this year not only as a sponsor of the 2017 EcoChallenge, but also as a leading team with over 200 participants signed up so far. With a goal of transforming the way we make, use and throw away stuff so that it is sustainable, healthy and fair, the Story of Stuff team is focusing on a wide variety of actions aimed to address simplicity, community, health and waste. Team member Regina Nobre shared, “Simple daily actions can improve environmental quality and help conservation of biodiversity.” They are going head-to-head with the Rob Greenfield Team and the Northwest Earth Institute Community Team in a friendly EcoChallenge competition.

Multnomah County Office of Sustainability Team – With over 130 participants, Multnomah County Office of Sustainability is engaging in a friendly EcoChallenge competition against Washington County.  Multnomah County employees have been staying focused by remembering that everyone has their reason to take action. Multnomah County employee Sam Baraso shared that his reason for participating in the 2017 EcoChallenge is rooted in advancing sustainability. “Through sustainability, we can live well without living better at the expense of others. I believe the humanity reflected in both our relationships with each other and the earth depend on it,” he says.

It isn’t too late to join the 2017 EcoChallenge – you can register anytime, choose your actions, invite others and get started in proving that small actions add up to real change. You can also check out all the other amazing teams joining this year’s EcoChallenge here. 


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