NWEI Staff Share their EcoChallenges! 8 Ideas to Inspire Action

Rob Nathan, NWEI's Director of Digital Engagement, gears up for a "Connecting With Earth" EcoChallenge next month
Rob Nathan, NWEI’s Director of Digital Engagement, gets ready to eat on $6/day for EcoChallenge next month

Every year the NW Earth Institute staff participates in our annual EcoChallenge, taking on challenges ranging from zero waste to using only human-powered transportation to eating foods produced within 100 miles, and much more. This year several of us are opting for challenges within our newest EcoChallenge action category: Connecting With Earth. As Lacy Cagle, Director of Learning and Engagement, reminds us, “So often, I get caught up in the work of protecting the planet that I don’t take the time to enjoy it. My EcoChallenge this October is to take the time to savor the world.” We all agree with E.B. White’s sentiments: “I arise in the morning torn between a desire to save the world and a desire to savor the world. This makes it hard to plan the day.”

Here is a quick recap of what the NWEI staff is taking on this year. For some of us on staff this will be our sixth year taking on the EcoChallenge. Each year we look forward to the chance to connect with each other as we talk through the challenges and positive outcomes of EcoChallenging each October. (It also means we’re very familiar with all the EcoChallenge categories by now, so let us know if you need help or inspiration choosing your challenge!) Head over to EcoChallenge.org to sign up today if you haven’t already!

Kerry Lyles gears up for a 'family friendly' EcoChallenge
Kerry Lyles gears up for a ‘family friendly’ EcoChallenge

Lacy Cagle and Kerry Lyles (Development and Communications Director) are Connecting With Earth! Kerry will engage in a nature-based activity with her kids each day of the EcoChallenge. “This year we are taking on the EcoChallenge as a family and focusing our challenge on something we really wish we took the time to do more of — taking three year old Aiden and baby Olive on hikes, or “nature walks” as Aiden likes to call them, and generally being aware of the changing seasons and the world around us. During the week we will do nature related art projects, make a trip to our neighborhood recycling center and have a mini-lesson in recycling, and read books from the library with nature themes.”

Program Coordinator Sara Mihm gets ready to combat junk mail for EcoChallenge 2015
Program Coordinator Sara Mihm gets ready to combat junk mail for EcoChallenge 2015

Liz Zavodsky, Director of Membership and Engagement, will be taking on a trash reduction EcoChallenge, committing to two weeks of zero waste! Program Coordinator Sara Mihm will be joining Liz in reducing her waste, taking action to reduce the amount of unwanted mail (catalogs, phone books, etc.) she receives. Sara will also weigh the stack that she has been collecting since July, and report back an estimate of carbon emissions that came from producing these mailings.

Deb McNamara, Director of Organizational Partnerships, will be taking on a civic engagement challenge. “This year I’m going to do two things to get my family more involved in taking care of our ‘place.’ The kids and I will do at least four “clean up” activities in the community during the EcoChallenge. We will get out to parks and pick up garbage, for example. We will also create a (visible) “pesticide free” zone in our yard and a “Bee Safe” zone in our yard to raise awareness on these issues – including putting up signs to designate the area.”

EcoChallenge Program Assistant Eric Elmore will only eat foods produced within 100 miles of his home
EcoChallenge Program Assistant Eric Elmore will only eat foods produced within 100 miles of his home

Rob Nathan, NWEI’s Director of Digital Engagement, will commit to eating on $6 a day for two weeks. “I picked this amount because when I used to receive food stamps (in Oregon) this was how much I had to spend a day on food. Many people have to eat on a tighter budget than I do and its important that I remember what that’s like as I continue to advocate for a more sustainable food system.” EcoChallenge Program Assistant Eric Elmore will join him with another Sustainable Food EcoChallenge, trying out the 100 Mile Diet, eating only food that has been raised and cultivated within a hundred mile radius of where he lives.

Finally, Executive Director Mike Mercer will go vegetarian for two weeks. “A couple years back Laura and I decided to cut our meat consumption in half and then only eat meats raised in non conventional systems. We succeeded in that goal without any sense of loss and now with more tasty meat substitutes on the market we’ll give a full vegetarian diet a go.”

We hope you will join us for this October’s EcoChallenge in proving that small actions do indeed add up to real change! Register now – the EcoChallenge begins on October 15th!


EcoChallenge Begins October 15th: What Will Your Challenge Be?


Our EcoChallenge is right around the corner! Every October 15th-29th we challenge you to choose one action to reduce your impact and stick with it for two weeks. Individuals and teams pick an action and set a goal that stretches their comfort zone. You can create a team at work, at church, or on campus – and invite your friends, colleagues and family to participate with you. You can also join our NW Earth Institute team. Camaraderie, friendly peer pressure and fun raffle prizes make change a little easier, and a lot more fun!

Why do we do the EcoChallenge each year? Because we know change can be tough, and sometimes it takes a kick-start to make it happen. Chances are there’s already something on your “to-do” list for the planet – whether it’s installing rain barrels, getting a bus pass or kicking your bottled water habit. This is your opportunity to choose one action to reduce your impact and stick with it for two weeks. We look forward kick-starting change with you beginning October 15th – and hope you will join us!


2 Ways to Take Action for Climate Week

Change Is Our Choice - CoverIt’s Climate Week, and hundreds of events are taking place all over the world, especially in New York City where United Nations and world leaders are discussing Sustainable Development Goals this week.  As the Climate Week organizers have said, a century from now historians will look back and see 2015 as a turning point. This is the time for business and government leaders to take bold climate action, and build strong economies that rely primarily on renewable energy and low carbon technology.

The NW Earth Institute is excited to contribute to this shift. If you haven’t yet participated in our newest discussion course on climate action, now is the time! At NWEI we believe that anyone can effect change in their sphere of influence, and hope Change Is Our Choice will inspire you to take action in your community.

This week, as leaders from business and governments are coming together to showcase action and commitments, and demonstrate demand for an ambitious global deal to be made at the December climate talks in Paris, we hope you’ll jump in and join the action too by organizing a course or by joining our upcoming EcoChallenge!


Join NWEI at the GoGreen Conference in Portland, October 6th

GoGreen_General_Square-logo-300x300We are pleased to be part of the GoGreen Portland Conference again this year, and looking forward to engaging with conference attendees in October. We’d love to see you there, and are happy to offer our NW Earth Institute network a 30% discount on registration. Use the code NWEI when you register to receive the discount. For those not yet familiar, GoGreen’s mission is to empower conference attendees with the strategies, tools, and connections to green their organizations. Featuring regionally targeted content and recognized leaders from the community, GoGreen works across industry silos to foster peer-to-peer learning and collaborative solutions.

We hope you’ll join us at the conference on October 6th – and be sure to stop by our booth and say hi!

*You can register here (and be sure to use the NWEI code for your 30% discount!).

4 EcoChallenger Stories to Inspire Action

We9I-OVLKRnpGsah9CPJTE2YgPoIXgElAct-C8IU0bI5---7J09fpFBAP_cLRsambmpXD5FFBdXxYn_Y36eCjt7H21bQIus4St0rBCjLVglMnXWa3sCBbBh9Po4jxf4tF3P5DKpln4lMY83Jt6WhwYtIfvg=s0-d-e1-ftIts that time of year again! EcoChallenge 2015 registration is underway and we hope you will join us this October in proving that small actions add up to real change.

Here are four EcoChallenger stories to inspire you. Whether you want to reduce your water use, eat a more earth-friendly diet, or use less fossil fuels, there is an EcoChallenge waiting for you. You can choose your challenge and get started hereJoin or start a team today!

Chantal with her cute new bike!

Joanne Gross of the NW Earth Institute Community Team is going to use only human-powered transportation during the 15-day EcoChallange. “I am a homemaker with two children, ages 9 and 11, and though our family of four is already a one-car family that tries to live a simple, low-carbon lifestyle, my biggest challenge is not jumping in the car daily to run errands or take my kids places. I think that going car-free for two weeks will help me be more mindful of my automobile use and help me figure out how to make daily human-powered transportation more practical for me and my kids.”

Barb Syska, from the Lewis-Clark State College EcoChallenge Team is building on her Water Conservation EcoChallenge from last year by adding the harvesting of gray water to her commitments. “Our area is in a drought and water rationing is in force.” She will save up to eight gallons of water each day by turning off the faucet when brushing her teeth, will use toilet tank banks to reduce the amount of water flushed, and will harvest household gray water. By reusing just 5 gallons of water per day, she will save 75 gallons of water during the EcoChallenge!

Tammy Van, a SustainableU EcoChallenger, is focusing on natural building and will “complete work on one small Cob Cottage and share with as many people as I possibly can the education of other sustainable choices in building and living in their own homes.” She reminds us that “If we continue to fill our stick frame or concrete homes with toxic building materials and furnishings, we haven’t brought sustainability into our core. It all begins at the home – so that is where I shall begin again this year.” Tammy will also launch a fundraising campaign to support a community Cob building in Romania in 2016 “to not only provide a healthy sustainable house for a local family but also to teach the international community how to build their own healthy homes from the ground right under their feet.”

200272097-001Danielle Womble, with the Waste Connections Warriors EcoChallenge Team, will compost her food waste each day and avoid sending up to .69 pounds of food waste per day to the landfill. She will also bring her own water bottles, reusable mugs and grocery bags when she’s on the go. “Last year (during the EcoChallenge) I targeted disposable cup usage and I conquered it! I now carry a fantastic reusable water bottle where ever I go. I outfitted each vehicle with reusable shopping bags and use them all the time. I also invested in a reusable to go container. This year, I want to see how much food I waste in a week. I will collect it, weigh it, and then compost it at work.”


*Ready to join? You can register for the EcoChallenge here. 

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