Choices for Sustainable Living Online Course: Connecting and Learning Together

Choices for Sustainable LivingIn our 25-year history, we’ve produced a library of course books used at universities, businesses, and other community settings nationwide.

Our course books provide a framework to discuss our relationship with the planet and to share in discovering new ways to live, work, and consume. In honor of our 25th anniversary, we’ve updated one of our most popular books—Choices for Sustainable Living (CSL)—and have taken it online for a special webinar-style discussion course.

Since May 9, a group of about 30 changemakers have been meeting online weekly to explore sustainability more deeply, and discuss how to make change possible and powerful, both individually and together.

Prior to the start of this special online course, we asked participants why they signed up for CSL and here’s what they had to say:

“I’ve participated in three discussion groups in the past, but am now interested in facilitating them in my neighborhood. I’m intrigued by the online format. My goal is to deepen my ability to truly walk my walk so that I can help others do the same with greater authenticity and compassion.”

“I would like to gain knowledge and practice in changing my own and family’s habits toward more sustainable ways of living, and to gain the knowledge and vocabulary and sensitivity to dialogue with others in ways that might lead them to make choices that are more sustainable.”

“I joined this course because sustainable lifestyle and economic transitions have recently become the focus of my life’s work. I left my full-time job to pursue sustainable consulting work and build my own business in a zero-emissions delivery service. As an avid pursuer of taking a systems perspective, I hope this course will give me insight into innovative, more ethically and environmentally responsible ways of running a business with a foundation in sustainable principles.”   (more…)

A Simplicity Manifesto | Students Respond to NWEI’s Simple Living Book

This spring, ENG 100 students from Kapi’olani Community College in Hawaii participated in Northwest Earth Institute’s A Different Way: Living Simply in a Complex World discussion course with faculty member Krista Hiser leading. For their final project, students were tasked with collaboratively writing a Simplicity Manifesto modeled on one of the activities in the course book. “I told them to add statements that they felt to be true and meaningful,” shared Krista. “For these kids, these were truly new ideas, so the statements in the manifesto represent transformative new thoughts for them. This is the beginning of a degrowth mindset. They came to these conclusions on their own.”
The second part of the assignment was to highlight and commit to action steps related to living more simply. One student shared, “I
will try to cut down on buying the things I want so that I can start simple living.” Another said, “I will reduce my carbon footprint, turn off electronics when not needed, carpool, ride a bike, and/or walk.” Other students highlighted the goal of taking time every day to enjoy the present moment, buying local products, and living with more awareness of the impact of everyday choices. “I will try to live a simpler life by living with things I think are necessary,” shared another student.
Thanks to Krista Hiser and her ENG 100 students for sharing their experiences. For more information on A Different Way, click here.


Celebrating and Honoring Deb McNamara: A Fond Farewell to our Colleague

Deb and her family enjoying the great outdoors.

The staff here at Northwest Earth Institute experienced a tangle of emotions this week as we celebrated Deb McNamara’s tenure as our Director of Organizational and Higher Education Partnerships. Deb is stepping down from her role at NWEI to pursue a more local job as the Campaign Coordinator for 350 Colorado. Although we will miss her greatly, we are excited for Deb that she will continue her passion for catalyzing positive personal and societal transformation. We know she will continue to make progress toward a more sustainable world.

This week, we had a virtual lunch to celebrate Deb’s 12 years with NWEI and all of the ways in which she has shaped and expanded the organization during her time with us. Deb has seen NWEI through many strategic plans, engagement strategies, staff changes, and executive directors. She has increased NWEI’s impact by creating and nurturing dozens of partnerships over the past 12 years, with national partners, regional partners, and higher education partners. As her colleagues, we have had the privilege and pleasure of Deb’s mentorship, leadership, and friendship.

Deb has embodied the heart, values, and mission of NWEI in her demeanor, as well as in her actions. Deb’s articulate communication, compassionate listening, and complex understanding of sustainability have enabled her to create authentic relationships around the world. We know many of you join us in celebrating her time with NWEI and wishing her well in her new path.

In addition to her work with NWEI, teaching yoga, and parenting three young boys, Deb just published her first book, The Invitation of Motherhood: Uncovering the Spiritual Lessons of Parenting.

Thank you, Deb!

NWEI staff in 2010 – Deb has always been a formidable voice carrying our mission forward.

Guest Blog Post: Personal Responsibility & Leaving No Trace

Today’s guest blog post is from Michael Katz of Earth River SUP, a business partner of The Center for Outdoor Ethics, the nonprofit organization which developed the Leave No Trace Principles: a set of principles that form the basis of an educational program designed to encourage sustainable behavior during recreational use of the outdoors. Since so many of us in the NWEI & EcoChallenge communities are lovers of the outdoors as well as advocates of zero-waste and living lightly, these principles provide a timeless reminder of how to minimize our impact on the places we love. Read on for Michael’s post on the seven principles of Leave No Trace. 

Northwest Earth Institute’s mission, simply put, is to inspire people to take responsibility for the Earth. EcoChallenge, a platform that helps organizations mobilize individuals to reduce their impact on the planet, is a means to that end. With similar goals, the Leave No Trace organization manages trainings, courses, and distribution of educational materials to instill and propagate this ethic, which has been adopted by various parks, recreational organizations, land management agencies, and educational institutions.

The original Leave No Trace Seven Principles are:

Plan Ahead and Prepare: This includes knowing the regulations of the area you’ll visit, being prepared, visiting in small groups, and repackaging food in order to minimize waste.

Travel and Camp on Durable Surfaces: Remember to stick to established trails and campsites, protect riparian areas by camping at least 200 feet from lakes and streams, and minimize your impact by walking single file on trails. In pristine areas, avoid places where impacts are just beginning.

Dispose of Waste Properly: Pack it in, pack it out. To wash yourself or your dishes, carry water 200 feet away from streams or lakes and use small amounts of biodegradable soap. Scatter strained dishwater.

Leave What You Find: Preserve the past by examining, but not touching cultural or historic structures and artifacts. Leave rocks, plants and other natural objects as you find them. Avoid introducing or transporting non-native species.

Minimize Campfire Impacts: Campfires can cause lasting impacts to the environment. Use a lightweight stove for cooking and enjoy a candle lantern for light. Where fires are permitted, use established fire rings, fire pans, or mound fires. Burn all wood and coals to ash, put out campfires completely, then scatter cool ashes.

Respect Wildlife: Observe wildlife from a distance and do not follow or approach them. Never feed animals as feeding wildlife damages their health, alters natural behaviors, and exposes them to predators and other dangers. Avoid wildlife during sensitive times: mating, nesting, raising young, or winter.

Be Considerate of Other Visitors: Respect other visitors and protect the quality of their experience. Be courteous. Let nature’s sounds prevail. Avoid loud voices and noises.

Leave No Trace amplifies its message of personal responsibility through a network of partners, including businesses, nonprofits, and educational institutions. Thanks to Michael Katz for sharing these reminders! You can learn more here. 


65 Countries and 75,000 Actions | Check Out the Drawdown EcoChallenge Event Summary

At the end of April we wrapped up our first annual Drawdown EcoChallenge, with over 7,000 participants and 760 teams. During the 21-day EcoChallenge hosted in partnership with Project Drawdown, participants made over 530 donations to support causes related to climate change, volunteered over 200 hours, and contacted public officials over 2,000 times about the issues we care about. Furthermore, over 150,000 pounds of CO2 were diverted during the EcoChallenge, and participants spent over 3,000 hours learning about climate change solutions. With participants representing 50 US states and 65 countries, over 75,000 actions were recorded.

We want to congratulate our winning team, Asheville High School, who engaged over 500 people during the Drawdown EcoChallenge. We also want to congratulate our other top teams: Taisugar Circluar Economy, Built Ecology and Friends, Comerica Bank, Arrowstreet West, OPSIS Architecture, PAE Seattle, MSR Design and Lincoln High School in Portland, Oregon. Congratulations!

Please check out our Impact Report and Event Summary here or below. Thanks to all those who were able to participate this spring!

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