Northwest Earth Institute Celebrates 25 Years

In 2018, Northwest Earth Institute is celebrating its 25th Anniversary! NWEI was founded in 1993 with 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. 25 years later, more than 200,000 participants worldwide have created change for good through our hallmark programs: a series of powerful discussion course books and a dynamic online EcoChallenge platform. This year, we’re honoring our past while also catalyzing an exciting new future.

For 25 years we’ve empowered you with inspiration and tools to create positive action in your homes, your communities, your workplaces, and your schools. From the beginning, the goal was simple: to provide opportunities for individuals to connect, reflect and take action to address the issues that matter most. The backbone of our work has been rooted in addressing patterns of consumerism, connecting people to planet and place, and offering resources that promote sustainable solutions. Our commitment is to offer tools rooted in transformative learning and behavior change theory – inspiring individuals to take action.

Over 165,000 people have engaged in our transformational discussion courses on simple living, adopting more sustainable lifestyles, supporting sustainable food systems, reconnecting with earth, creating more sustainable organizations and businesses, environmental health, climate change and the intersections of peace, justice and sustainability. Over 40,000 people have participated in the EcoChallenge (which is in its 10th year in 2018) – with over 535,000 actions taken across 2,100 cities and 85 countries. Since we began tracking our impact with EcoChallenge just four years ago, we’ve helped over 20,000 community members and saved over a million gallons of water. Each year, we’re amazed at what the Northwest Earth Institute community accomplishes and we can’t wait to see what lies ahead.

This year, we’ve launched a new edition of our most popular course book, Choices for Sustainable Livingand we’ve integrated it with our online EcoChallenge platform. We’ll be offering an online Choices for Sustainable Living course later this spring, along with a new spring EcoChallenge co-hosted with Project Drawdown. We’ll be focusing on serving emerging generations, increasing our digital engagement, and expanding our EcoChallenge events throughout the year. And, most importantly, we will continue to give thanks for you – this amazing community of changemakers – for your role in creating change over the past 25 years.



A New Edition of the Choices for Sustainable Living Book is Here!

It’s here! As NWEI turns 25 years old this year, we’re launching a brand new edition of our most popular course book, Choices for Sustainable Living. This edition includes a new session on water, and has also been designed for use with an accompanying Choices for Sustainable Living online EcoChallenge. Session content in the new course book will complement online actions and resources – and we’re excited to formally integrate this course book with the online EcoChallenge platform, bringing together our two hallmark programs.

The new Choices for Sustainable Living provides participants with a powerful opportunity to explore sustainability more deeply and envision a sustainable world from individual, societal and global perspectives. The 2018 new edition also uses the online EcoChallenge action platform to help participants discover new ways to make change more possible and powerful, both individually and together.

“At a time when we desperately need a vision for a sustainable future, Choices for Sustainable Living helps participants learn to collectively envision sustainability and work together toward constructing that world,” says NWEI’s Director of Learning, Lacy Cagle. “This new program lays out the dismaying scientific facts about the connected crises we face, but it also offers inspiring case studies of what people are doing to address these crises. It provides an opportunity to explore sustainability more deeply and envision a sustainable world from individual, societal and global perspectives.”

You can learn more about this new edition and see a list of FAQs here. Or, click here to order your copy. 

Happy New Year from NWEI! Celebrating Top Positive Environmental Stories of 2017

As we head into a new year, we not only have a lot to look forward to – but we are also celebrating the top environmental news stories of this past year. In a time when negative news cycles abound, taking pause to acknowledge the positive accomplishments of the year serves as a reminder of how our work together contributes to a more vibrant and sustainable future. Throughout 2017, scientists discovered new wildlife and rediscovered species that were once thought to be extinct. Some countries created large marine protected areas – and other granted new land rights to indigenous communities. We also saw the emergence of new technologies that are positively contributing to conservation efforts.

As Northwest Earth Institute kicks off its celebration of 25 years of changemaking in 2018, we’re celebrating our part in both educating and taking action for a more sustainable future. Join us in acknowledging the good news – and setting intentions for more change for good in the year to come. To read the full story on the Top 10 Happy Environmental Stories of 2017, click here. Here are a few of our favorite positive stories from 2017. Thanks to Mongabay, News and Inspiration from Nature’s Frontline, for these excerpts.

1. New populations of rare wildlife were found.
This year, conservationists discovered some new populations of threatened wildlife. Take, for example, the helmeted hornbill (Rhinoplax vigil). A research team recorded a new and “unexpectedly rich population” of this critically endangered bird in western Borneo. For a species that is now nearly extinct because of poaching, this discovery boosts hope for its future. It was good news for the Grauer’s gorilla (Gorilla beringei graueri) as well…The researchers think that there might be many more gorillas living inside the largely unexplored 10,885-square-kilometer (4,000-square-mile) park. First-of-a-kind surveys of forests in Karen state in southeast Myanmar also yielded records of at least 31 species of mammals, including tigers, Asian elephants, Phayre’s langurs and dholes. The region was previously out-of-bounds for scientists due to security and political reasons. Similarly, surveys in Thailand’s Eastern Forest Complex revealed the world’s second known breeding population of Indochinese tigers (Panthera tigris corbetti), making Thailand home to two breeding populations of this tiger subspecies.

2. Some species thought to be extinct were spotted after decades.
2017 was also a year of rediscoveries. A guard at a recently created amphibian reserve in the Cuchumatanes Mountain range in Guatemala, for example, chanced upon the brilliantly colored Jackson’s climbing salamander (Bolitoglossa jacksoni) more than 40 years after it was first recorded. A naturalist in India spotted an extremely rare cobra lily that had not been seen for nearly 80 years. Scientists also reported the rediscovery of the Táchira antpitta (Grallaria chthonia), a plump brown bird that was first recorded during an expedition in the mid-1950s in a remote part of the Andes in Venezuela. In yet another expedition exploring the western Amazon, a field guide spotted the Vanzolini’s bald-faced saki (Pithecia vanzolinii), a large black monkey with a long fluffy tail and golden fur, leaping from one tree branch to another. This was the first living evidence of this monkey in 80 years, researchers say.

3. A U.S. subnational delegation committed to keeping America’s Paris Climate Goals. 
In June this year, U.S. President Donald Trump announced that the country would be pulling out of the Paris Agreement on climate change. However, a rival coalition of U.S. governors, mayors, business and religious leaders paid for, and opened, an unofficial pavilion dubbed “America’s Pledge: We Are Still In.” This delegation, representing non-federal actors in 15 U.S. states, 455 cities, 1,747 businesses and 325 universities, proclaimed its commitment to the Paris Agreement on behalf of the American people. Governor Jerry Brown of California and former New York City mayor Michael Bloomberg led the delegation.

4. Philanthropists and companies made big commitments for the environment.
With Trump turning his back on climate change issues, philanthropists and big companies stepped up to tackle the problem. The Gates Foundation, for example, announced a $300 million grant to support agriculture research that would help farmers in Africa and Asia adapt to climate change. The William and Flora Hewlett Foundation also announced a $600 million donation over five years, from 2018 to 2023, to nonprofits that are working on climate change solutions. Other foundations have pledged their support for conservation efforts. The U.S.-based Leonardo DiCaprio Foundation, for example, has announced $20 million in grants to local and global nonprofit organizations that are working in the areas of conservation, human rights and the environment.

5. Indigenous land rights were granted to communities.
Indigenous and rural communities in Indonesia are slowly reclaiming their ancestral rights to their land. In December last year, the Indonesian government for the first time recognized the rights of nine indigenous communities to the forests they have traditionally called home. This year, it granted land rights to some more indigenous communities. So far, the administration has restored the rights to 164 square kilometers (63 square miles) of land to indigenous communities. In another rare victory for indigenous communities, Brazil’s Temer government, which has previously attacked indigenous rights, established the 12,000-square-kilometer (4,630-square-mile) Indigenous Territory of Turubaxi-Téa along the Middle Negro River in Amazonas state.

The waters off Revillagigedo Islands are home to giant manta rays. Photo by Elias Levy

6. Large marine reserves were created.
Niue, a small island country in the South Pacific with a population of just 1,600, established a new marine protected area that covers 40 percent of the island’s exclusive economic zone… In September this year, Chile announced a 740,000-square-kilometer (285,700-square-mile) marine reserve around its remote Easter Island. The Rapa Nui Rahui Marine Protected Area region is home to over 140 marine species found nowhere else on Earth, and the park will not allow industrial fishing, mining and other extractive activities… Mexico has also announced the expansion of the Revillagigedo marine park to create the largest marine reserve of its kind in North America to protect sharks, rays, whales, turtles and other important marine species.

To read more positive environmental news stories, and to read the full article, click here. 


Celebrating Our Accomplishments | Looking Forward to 2018

As 2017 draws to a close, we are celebrating our accomplishments this past year and looking forward to 2018. This year we hosted our largest EcoChallenge to date – and worked with over 21,000 people to create a more sustainable future through programs that foster connection, reflection and action. Since our founding in 1993, over 200,000 people in 83 countries have participated in NWEI’s discussion courses and EcoChallenge. And, we have a lot to look forward to in 2018. We’ll celebrate our 25th Anniversary, and in January we’ll release a revised and expanded discussion course, Choices for Sustainable Living. Perhaps most importantly, we’ll continue to work on growing our programs to create the positive change and actions we all want to see in the world. Thank you for being part of this amazing community of changemakers.

Check out our 2017 impact report, and please consider supporting NWEI with an end of year contribution. Your tax-deductible donation will help us inspire more than 20,000 changemakers take action for a sustainable future in 2018. Here’s to co-creating the change we wish to see as we head into the new year!

4 Ways to Practice Mindful Giving this Holiday Season

           Image credit: Mindful Giving

The holidays are meant to be a time for celebrating with family and friends, partaking in meaningful traditions, and sharing gifts of appreciation with one another. But giving doesn’t have to exclusively mean buying a gift. These days, it can be challenging to prioritize the values of simplicity and mindfulness when bombarded by the constant messages of consumer culture. As Mother Theresa says, “It’s not how much we give but how much love we put into giving.”

Here are a few ways you can practice mindful and thoughtful giving this season.

1. Remember the Gift of your Presence. Consider ways to share the gift of your presence, rather than relying only on purchasing gifts. Consider a thoughtful gift involving a homemade item or the gift of cooking, art, babysitting, or sharing one of your skills. Offering your time can often be a meaningful way to show your appreciation and support. Remember the gift of shared experiences.

2. Make it Personal. Take time to write personal notes or create hand-made cards. Include notes of appreciation or gratitude. Taking time to write a short message goes a long way towards giving a thoughtful gift.

3. Support Causes Meaningful to You. Many organizations, including Northwest Earth Institute, rely on end of year gifts and contributions. Consider donating to Northwest Earth Institute in someone’s name and sharing this as a meaningful gift. At Northwest Earth Institute, you can give a gift membership, or give the gift of one of NWEI’s books. Consider giving the gift of learning by sharing NWEI course books with family and friends. We are happy to send the book or books of your choice to the recipient(s) on your gift list. If NWEI has impacted you, we invite you to share the gift of these resources with others.

4. If You Do Shop, Remember Amazon SmileWhen you do choose to purchase items, remember programs like AmazonSmile that support non-profits and other causes. You can support Northwest Earth Institute via AmazonSmile for any online purchases you make this season (or anytime throughout the year). At no additional cost to you, the AmazonSmile Foundation will donate 0.5% of your eligible AmazonSmile purchases to NWEI. You can access this feature here, or visit and search the charitable organizations on the bottom right side of the page.

As Kathy Calvin says, “Giving is not just about giving a donation, it is about making a difference.” We invite you to remember this throughout the season – and in your personal gift giving as well. May the season be an opportunity for making a difference in the lives of those around you – and in your wider communities and world.







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