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!
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.”
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.”
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!