Organize a Neighborhood Work Party! Inspiring Ideas from EcoChallenge 2014

EcoChallengers and neighbors gather for a 'neighborhood work party' this past weekend.
EcoChallengers and neighbors gather for a ‘neighborhood work party’ this past weekend.

EcoChallenge 2014 is underway with 205 teams taking on actions to lighten environmental impact – and setting goals that stretch the comfort zone and make a difference for each of us and the planet. It still isn’t too late to join the fun!

Every year we get great ideas from our EcoChallengers about ways to make a difference and build community, too. This year we’re excited to share what Kerry Lyles, EcoChallenger and NWEI staffer, is up to. “My EcoChallenge this year is a little different — I’m going to be focusing my efforts for the two week challenge on expanding my role in the “sharing economy” and fostering “collaborative consumption.”

Kerry’s first goal was to organize a neighborhood work party, which she did this past weekend. “We will take turns completing a project at each neighbor in the work party group’s house. One morning a month we gather at a neighbors house and operate with the idea that “many hands make light work” on a manual labor project, like washing windows or planting garden beds, and then we rotate through the other members of the group one at a time each month.” Four families participated and this past week they kicked off the work parties with the goal of winterizing a neighbor’s garden. They dug up vegetables and grasses and then covered it for winter. As Kerry says, “it was a family affair.” Way to engage the whole family and community!

*We’d love to hear how your EcoChallenge is going. Any ideas to share? Head over to our FB page and drop us a line! 

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2,300 EcoChallengers and 200 Teams Are Off and Running!

grist-time-to-act-is-nowWe’re off and running! EcoChallenge 2014 kicked off last Wednesday and we have over 2,300 participants and 203 teams signed up as of today. (And, it isn’t too late to join us!) Portland Business Journal’s Wendy Culverwell shared the following article with some top 2014 EcoChallenge highlights:

Northwest Earth Institute’s annual challenge to go green has kicked off with some 2,000 participants committing to take small steps to make their schools and workplaces more sustainable. The 2014 EcoChallenge started Oct. 15 and runs through Oct. 29. It has attracted participants from not only the Portland area but the entire country as churches, colleges and schools take advantage of the chance to encourage new daily habits.

The program aims to promote sustainable habits that continue beyond the competition. Teams sign on to earn points for meeting EcoChallenge goals such as choosing sustainable foods, saving water and energy, reducing trash and using alternative transportation.

Here’s a sample of some of this year’s big players:

  • Not surprising perhaps, NW Earth Institute itself is fielding the largest team of the crop with 134 staffers and supporters agreeing to take steps to save resources.
  • Ecova, an energy and sustainability management company, is using the challenge as a public declaration of its commitment to social responsibility. To date, a member of its 94-person team has already prepared produce from a farmer’s market to ensure it doesn’t go to waste and installed a low-flow water shower head at home.
  • Bank of America committed to transform its own internal operations when it launched a 10-year, $50 billion environmental business initiative in 2013 to address climate change. The company set a goal to reduce water and paper consumption by 20 percent, divert 70 percent of its waste from landfills, cut its energy consumption by 20 percent and its greenhouse gas emissions by 15 percent, and to have 20 percent of its corporate real estate portfolio achieve LEED certification by 2015. The bank is fielding a 50-member team.
  • The University of Portland is fielding two student teams who are competing to see who can earn the most challenge points. The private school in North Portland has strong credentials already. It was rated the greenest school in the region by Princeton Review last year and was the first college in the West to ban the sale of disposable plastic water bottles. Fifty eight students are participating in  the challenge this year.
  • Portland State University is fielding four teams with a combined 25 participants.
  • Architecture firm Hennebery Eddy is encouraging its 38 team members to log up wins by offering to donate 25 cents for every individual challenge met to the NW Earth Institute itself.

*It isn’t too late to join the fun! Register here and jump in for the final 10 days of the EcoChallenge. 

EcoChallenge 2014 Kicks Off Today!

EcoChallengers Risa and Logan De Groff set up their compost tumbler yesterday in time for today's kick-off
EcoChallengers Risa and Logan De Groff set up their compost tumbler yesterday in time for today’s kick-off

Today is day #1 of the 2014 EcoChallenge! Today, 190 teams begin taking action to reduce their environmental impact. From now until October 29th, individuals and teams will be conserving water, reducing trash, saving energy, eating more sustainable food, and choosing sustainable transportation. The EcoChallenge is open to anyone who would like to make a commitment to living a little lighter on Earth. If you haven’t yet registered, join us as we collectively prove that small actions add up to big change. And, the camaraderie and friendly peer pressure make change a little easier, and a lot more fun!

*New this year: you can now post photos to your EcoChallenge blog, just like EcoChallenger Risa De Groff did as they set up a compost tumbler for their family just in time for the kick-off of the EcoChallenge.

“This is our family’s third year doing the EcoChallenge and each year I have decided to choose a new challenge. The first two years we have carried over so many of the new habits created that I wanted to pick something that we are currently struggling the most with. With a recent move we have noticed that our recycling and trash bins are getting fuller faster than ever. We are taking on the Trash Reduction challenge, which touches on a few other areas that we need a check-in on as well (buying in bulk, reusable mugs, not using paper goods). This year will be the first time ever we will be starting a garden so I am very excited to start a compost!”

Ready to get started on your own EcoChallenge? Today is the day. Register here.


Action Ideas from Ecova’s 2014 EcoChallenge Team!

Two days and counting until EcoChallenge 2014 kicks off! As of today we have 169 teams registered, with individuals and teams committing to water conservation, energy efficiency, sustainable food options, alternative transportation, trash reduction and civic engagement challenges. Ecova, which has had 48 employees sign up to participate so far, shared this flier with us to highlight some of the inspiring actions employees are taking between October 15-29th.

Haven’t registered yet? There is still time! Click here to register and join us in proving that small actions add up to big change!


Oregon Environmental Council Invites You to Join the EcoChallenge!

This year we are excited to be partnering with Oregon Environmental Council on the EcoChallenge. With OEC’s help, we added a new category — civic engagement — and are rallying people to change their worlds for good by advocating for the issues they care about.

OEC staffers Michelle McGrath, Jessica Moskovitz, Angela Crowley-Koch, Jen Coleman and Simon Tam created this fun short video to invite you to take on the EcoChallenge with us!

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