The holiday season is quickly approaching. Yet too often, the holidays—meant to be a time of peace, reflection, and celebration—exhaust us rather than uplift us. Our friends at New Dream have created a variety of resources designed to help people escape the shopping, spending, and frenzied preparations that have become synonymous with the winter holidays.
At NWEI, we’re always looking for inspiration and helpful tips on how to plan holiday celebrations that reduce stress, waste, and expense. In the spirit of our newest course book, A Different Way: Living Simply in a Complex World, we want to emphasize meaning over material goods, strengthen relationships, and build community. Each year, New Dream offers resources to support a more meaningful and simple holiday season – and we’re excited to share them with you here as we head into Thanksgiving this week.
Ready to enjoy the holidays with less stress and less stuff? Check out these New Dream resources:
A guide on how to create a more meaningful holiday season that’s focused on sharing, laughter, creativity, and personal renewal.
Invite your family and friends to wrap their holidays in more of what matters—meaning, connection, and joy—and less of what doesn’t (stuff, stress, and waste). We at NWEI are wishing you a wonderful Thanksgiving this week – and a holiday season that is meaningful, memorable, and rejuvenating!
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!”