EcoChallenge Registration Is Now Open!

Registration for the 2017 EcoChallenge is now open! We expect over 12,000 participants who are dedicated to reducing their impact on the planet and contributing to a healthy, vibrant, and sustainable future. We hope you will join us this October 11-25th.

During these two weeks, we challenge you to change habits that benefit you, your community, and the planet. It’s a win-win that’s designed to inspire a lifetime of positive change. You can choose actions to curb emissions, save water, eat more sustainable foods or generate less waste (to name a few).

If you don’t already, we encourage you to follow us on Instagram, Facebook or Twitter (or all three) to stay connected. Over the next two months and during the EcoChallenge, we’ll be sharing helpful tips, resources, and personal stories of inspiration, as well as having fun contests—and we don’t want you to miss anything. Whether you’ve participated in the EcoChallenge in the past or are joining us for the first time, we’ll show you how two weeks can add up to a lifetime of positive changes for you, your community, and the planet.

4 Ways To Rediscover A Sense of Place

Northwest Earth Institute has long believed that connecting with nature and discovering a sense of place are essential in finding solutions to today’s environmental challenges. That’s why we’re excited to be part of The Intertwine Alliance – a coalition of 150 organizations working together to integrate nature more deeply into the Portland metro region, the place NWEI calls home.

This month, The Intertwine Alliance is hosting a Daycation campaign – inviting each of us to discover natural areas near home, to go on local tours and to find new hidden gems. But we know that much our the NWEI community is spread throughout the world.

Here are 4 ways to rediscover a sense of place, regardless of where you live: 

1. Take a “Daycation” this month & seek out a new local place. For those in the Portland area, learn more here and join other locals in discovering new places and hidden gems. For those in other bioregions, create your own ‘daycation’ by intentionally exploring a new natural area close to home. Is there someplace you’ve always wanted to visit? Reconnect with your local history and place by spending a day appreciating your home place. Invite others to join.

2. Take a slow neighborhood walk. If you find yourself driving more than biking or walking, it can be a nice repreive to slow down and take your time noticing the details of where you live. A neighborhood walk is a great place to start – taking time to explore new streets and notice the plants and flowers growing.

3. Intentially notice the things you appreciate about where you live. Find a quiet place and journal about some of the things you are grateful for – or draw some of what you see or experience. Or, sit quietly and observe.

4. Gather a group and participate in NWEI’s Reconnecting With Earth discussion course. Reconnecting With Earth explores how our cultural beliefs and personal values affect the way we view and treat Earth. Together, you’ll discuss how our well-being is inextricably linked to the well-being of our planet.

Whatever you choose to do, make a point to deepen your connection to your home place this month. We hope it will engender an even deeper respect for the planet and the place you live – and a renewed commitment to act. We believe even these small gestures of connecting to place point us in the direction of real and lasting change.

Save the Date – October 11-25th EcoChallenge Registration Kicks Off this Month!

We believe the solution to the planet’s biggest challenges lies in the power of collective action – which is why we are gearing up for the 2017 EcoChallenge happening October 11-25th. Please save the date. Also, registration will open August 14th, so stay tuned!

Last year we launched a new site and had over 8,300 participants across 450 teams participating in the October EcoChallenge. This year, we’re not only offering our ongoing free, public EcoChallenge in October, we’re also offering an ongoing Campus EcoChallenge each semester as well as ongoing Custom EcoChallenges. There are lots of ways to join us this year – and we hope you’ll jump in to reduce your impact and contribute to a healthy, vibrant, and sustainable future.

If you haven’t already, you can now follow EcoChallenge on Facebook or Instagram for news, tips and updates. Join us in powerful (and fun) ways to engage your friends, family and coworkers, and prove that small actions add up to big change.

The Most Important Things to Simplify

This year, we published a new rendition of one of our first discussion course books, Voluntary Simplicity. We’ve long believed that addressing consumerism is a key tenet of living sustainably and addressing the environmental challenges of our times. After over twenty years of offering the Voluntary Simplicity course book, we’re excited to bring new perspective to a timeless practice.

The new course book, A Different Way: Living Simply in a Complex World,  highlights how we can choose simple living as a way to make our own paths in life: paths that allow for investing our time in the things that matter most to us. While creating this new course book, we were excited to connect with Joshua Becker, who is featured in the new book and who maintains the Becoming Minimalist blog.

In the spirit of living simply and finding a different way, this week we’re sharing an excerpt from one of our favorite Becoming Minimalst blog posts: The 10 Most Important Things to Simplify in your Life. To read the full post, click here. 

Simplicity brings balance, freedom, and joy. When we begin to live simply and experience these benefits, we begin to ask the next question, “Where else in my life can i remove distraction and simply focus on the essential?”

Based on our personal journey, our conversations, and our observations, here is a list of the most important things to simplify in your life today to begin living a more balanced, joyful lifestyle:

Your Possessions – Too many material possessions complicate our lives to a greater degree than we ever give them credit. They drain our bank account, our energy, and our attention. They keep us from the ones we love and from living a life based on our values. If you will invest the time to remove nonessential possessions from your life, you will never regret it.

Your Time Commitments – Most of us have filled our days full from beginning to end with time commitments: work, home, kid’s activities, community events, religious endeavors, hobbies… the list goes on. When possible, release yourself from the time commitments that are not in line with your greatest values.

Your Goals – Reduce the number of goals you are intentionally striving for in your life to one or two. By reducing the number of goals that you are striving to accomplish, you will improve your focus and your success rate. Make a list of the things that you want to accomplish in your life and choose the two most important. When you finish one, add another from your list…

Your Connections to the World – Relationships with others are good, but constant streams of distraction are bad. Learn when to power off the blackberry, log off Facebook, or not read a text. Focus on the important, not the urgent. A steady flow of distractions from other people may make us feel important, needed, or wanted, but feeling important and accomplishing importance are completely different things…

To read Joshua’s full post, click here. To check out NWEI’s newest course book, click here.  


Individual Actions Still Matter: How Our Personal Choices Impact Climate Change

At NWEI we have long focused on the role of each individual to create positive change. We believe the little things can indeed make a big difference – and we focus on a simple objective: to give people a framework to talk about our relationship with the planet and to share in discovering new ways to live, work, create and consume. We believe no change is too small — in fact, the choices we make every day are exactly where change is most possible and powerful.

That’s why we are excited about a groundbreaking new study from Sweden that outlines what individuals can do about climate change  – as well as measures the relative impact. Researchers examined what individuals can do to help address the climate crisis while also providing data about how individual actions do indeed add up to make impact. A key takeaway: individual actions still matter- a great deal. recently highlighted the study, which was published in Environmental Research Letters, and noted that “the researchers found that behavioral shifts could be faster than waiting for national climate policies and widespread energy transformations.” In fact, Grist author Eric Holthaus suggests the study may be the first comprehensive analysis on the effectiveness of specific individual climate actions.

Perhaps not surprisingly, lower-impact actions like recycling or changing light bulbs had less impact. Higher impact actions include buying green energy or living car free. The individual action with a highest return? Having one fewer child.

Click here or below to see how all the actions studied measure up. And for a deeper dive, check out NWEI’s Change Is Our Choice: Creating Climate Solutions discussion course book or join us for our annual EcoChallenge October 11-25th and kick-start new habits by choosing energy or transportation actions!

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