After completing Northwest Earth Institute’s annual October EcoChallenge, participants often ask “How can we go deeper?” or “What are the next steps for me personally, or for my organization?” or “How can I keep my team engaged?” Whether you’ve just completed the annual October EcoChallenge or not, we hope you’ll join us for our next webinar on Wednesday, November 15th. During this 30 minute webinar, we’ll be focusing on engagement resources for sustainability education and action, highlighting NWEI’s suite of offerings and suggesting ways that you can spark or continue momentum in your community.
During this webinar you’ll learn about how you can use Northwest Earth Institute’s suite of offerings to take engagement and action to the next level in your community or organization. We will give an overview of NWEI’s sustainability discussion course books, which offer a deeper dive into issues like energy, climate, food choices and organizational sustainability. We’ll also share how the EcoChallenge can be customized at any time during the year for your business, college or organization, including via our new year-round Campus EcoChallenge.
While our annual October EcoChallenge has ended, our ongoing customized EcoChallenges continue. In November, University of Richmond and Colliers International are off and running with their own customized EcoChallenge events, and today we’re excited to share the work of Climate Conversations North Central Washington, whose mission is to increase public dialogue and awareness of climate change through education, advocacy and activism at the local, state and federal level.
This past spring Climate Conversations North Central Washington (CCNCW) engaged over 740 people in a customized, regional EcoChallenge focusing on maximizing climate chage impact. We had the chance to connect with Carolyn Griffin-Bugert, who headed up the NCW EcoChallenge efforts, and who took some time to connect with us about her work.
Based in Wenatchee, WA, the group started when 90 concerned community members gathered in order to take action to address climate change. The group was inspired to form three years ago after hearing Bill McKibben speak about the historic climate marches taking place around the world. Before engaging in NWEI’s EcoChallenge, they focused on public education by hosting guest speakers, writing letters to the editor and publishing articles in the local press. They began to research ways to engage their community in taking action, and thus began the partnership with NWEI in bringing a customized EcoChallenge to North Central Washington. Bugert shared that one of the greatest take-aways from the event was realizing how engaged people were in the issues. “We found that people care. We just needed an avenue to talk about climate change,” she shared.
The event was community led and community focused (for local residents of Chelan and Douglas counties), and included community-specific resources. Community sponsors included Link Transit, The Community Foundation and the Public Utility. During the event, 99 teams came together to focus on taking hundreds of actions such as practicing fuel-efficient driving, switching to LED light bulbs, advocating for greener vehicles and replacing manual thermostats. EcoChallengers also had the opportunity to choose an action around contributing to building a vision for the local public transportation future.
Teams represented incuded the Wenatchee Valley Humane Society, Orchard and Pioneer Middle Schools, Columbia Valley Community Health Clinic, faith communities, elementary schools, the local Land Trust, Habitat for Humanity, Link Transit (the local public transit provider), and the Wenatchee Public Library. Over the course of their two-week challenge, they saved over 40,000 gallons of water, travelled over 960 miles by carpool and over 2,000 miles by bus, volunteered over 1,500 hours in their community, and changed nearly 1,000 lightbulbs to be more energy efficient. To check out the full impact, click here.
Post EcoChallenge, CCNCW aims to host a town hall meeting around climate change to continue engaging the community in proactively working towards local solutions and adaptations. Bugert shared that their regional EcoChallenge was a perfect “activity to pull in people who are not yet thinking about climate change or being environmentally responsible.” She appreciated how the event offered prizes and was rooted in the spirit of fun. “It was a great opportunity to examine and be aware of our behaviors,” she shared. “There is definitely power in coming together.”
To learn more about how customized EcoChallenges can work in your community or organization, click here. To learn more about Climate Conversations North Central Washington’s Custom EcoChallenge, click here.
Last week marked the ending of our 9th annual EcoChallenge. We engaged a record 12,214 participants across 639 teams from
83 countries! By all accounts, it was our most successful challenge ever. Thousands of EcoChallengers in schools, communities, and businesses took action on the most important environmental and social issues, and inspired others to join in the fun. We hope the
EcoChallenge experience resulted in habits that add up to a lifetime of positive change. You can check out our Collective Impact and learn more about this year’s EcoChallenge via our event summary here.
Thank you to all the teams who participated – and a huge congratulations to the top five EcoChallenge Teams: Sustainable Saints (Mt. Hood Community College), Rob Greenfield Team, Ecova AllStars (Ecova), Delran Middle School in New Jersey, and AMD Green Team (Advanced Micro Devices). This year surpassed previous collective impact stats – including diverting over 131,000 pounds of CO2 from entering the atmosphere, saving over 350,000 gallons of water, tracking over 9,000 carpool miles and writing or calling over 500 public officals about issues we care about. We also volunteered over 1,400 hours in our local communities.
We often hear at the end of EcoChallenge, “How can I go deeper?” or “What are the next steps for me personally or for my organization?” We invite you to continue your EcoChallenges – and to continue creating new positive habits. We also invite you to consider the next steps for effecting change in your community or organization. Join us for a special webinar on November 15thto learn how NWEI’s offerings can take your EcoChallenge and momentum to the next level.
We leave you with just a few of the many inspiring quotes from this year’s EcoChallenge. “EcoChallenge pushed me to learn more. I consider myself fairly aware of my habits and their effects, but I learned how much more I could be doing,” shared one EcoChallenger in reflection. Another EcoChallenger shared, “The big take away for me is mindfulness. It is important to think about how you want to be a good environmental steward, even in the small things you do every day.” We couldn’t agree more.
Today is the final day of EcoChallenge 2017 – so if you haven’t logged your actions, today is the day! As the day winds down, we have 12,190 participants on 638 teams participating. We’ve saved over 120,000 pounds of carbon from entering the atmosphere, and conserved over 330,000 gallons of water. We’ve eaten over 16,000 meatless meals, and written over 400 letters or emails to public officials about issues we care about. We’ve also helped over 1,100 people and volunteered over 1,300 hours in our communities. A heartfelt thank you to everyone who participated or supported this year’s EcoChallenge. You can check out the impact we’ve made here.
EcoChallenger Zachariah Strife (on the Portland Community College Eco Panters team) says it well. “I can’t believe the challenge is almost over. As the formal challenge winds down, I am looking for ways to incorporate some of the habits I chose for the challenge into my everyday life going forward. Obviously we can’t carry all of our trash with us all the time or sign a petition every day, but there are a lot of small changes we can make to live more sustainable lives. Ecochallenge did a great job of highlighting some of the simple actions we can take to live better.”
EcoChallenger John Leary of the Trees for the Future EcoChallenge team is also finishing strong today. He tweeted: “Installing #solar might place me in the Top 20 of over 12,000 people competing in the #EcoChallenge!” Anita Bailey-Huff shared, “This challenge is almost over, and I am kind of sad, but I am also glad I am able to incorporate some new things into my daily routine.” Amber Node, team captain of the Hennebery Eddy Architects EcoChallenge team shared, “Happy EcoChallenge Day! At the last minute I decided to add one more daily challenge in health and happiness: showing gratitude and appreciation every day. I can already tell this was a great addition, and I am THANKFUL for the EcoChallenge for reminding me how important it is to be thankful.”
We are so thankful for you, the EcoChallenge and Northwest Earth Institute community, for coming along on this year’s EcoChallenge journey! As Shastan Jee shared today, “Final day of the challenge – but let’s keep it up for a lifetime!”
It is Day 13 of NWEI’s 9th annual EcoChallenge and we’re more excited than ever. This morning, we passed 12,000 participants – an all-time record. As of today we have over 630 teams and 12,000 people working to create change. Wow!
While it is true that EcoChallenge is winding down this week, our collective impact is adding up to some pretty impressive numbers. Thanks to this community of changemakers and the continued commitment to taking action.
Peggy La Point, a member of Kink FM’s team, is only using muscle-powered transportation and public transit during the EcoChallenge. She’s also carrying her trash, eliminating plastics, and lobbying for reusables at her workplace. “I want to push myself to put my plans into action. That’s why two of my challenges involve getting my workplace up to speed with more reusables and recycling properly,” she shared. She’s also focusing on ‘needs versus wants,’ – only buying food and necessities during the EcoChallenge.
Jennifer Frisella, who is co-heading up Delran Middle School’s EcoChallenge team, is a middle school science teacher and has engaged 261 middle schoolers in participating in the EcoChallenge this year. Last week she and fellow EcoChallenge team captain Jonathan Skvir led students on a visit to a methane waste power plant and Energy Education Center in Fairless Hills, Pennsylvania where students learned about how trash can become energy.
Jonathan Skvir, fellow Delran Middle School EcoChallenge Team Captain and science teacher, is also heading up the EcoChallenge event and is focusing on cutting back waste, using only recyclable bags, and finding local recycling depots. He was excited to bring students along for his one-time EcoChallenge: visiting a waste management facility, where he and some of his science students “learned how landfill waste creates methane that can be used to create electricity.” Jonathan poses this question to his students: “Why not make small changes in your life if they can have a positive impact on your community or world?”
Debra Kennedy joined the EcoChallenge last year and focused on water conservation. She committed to taking five minute showers and was able to begin a new habit that stuck. “I’m celebrating one year of five minute showers. It DID become a habit and I smile to think of all the water I didn’t use,” she shared. Missy Lucas joined the EcoChallenge in order to “make the world go round a little greener, a little brighter.” Her EcoChallenges this year include using public transit, choosing carbon offsets, connecting with new non-profits in order to be more involved in her community – and choosing clean and renewable energy.
There are so many exciting and inspiring stories of change – and you can check out some of them on the EcoChallenge participant feed. Thanks to all of this year’s EcoChallengers who are creating change and trying new habits. You can still join for the final days here!