EcoChallenge Halfway Mark! Top Teams and Impacts To Date

Today marks the halfway point in EcoChallenge 2016! With one week left, over 430 teams and nearly 8,000 participants will continue to taking action and making a difference for themselves, their communities, and the planet. We’re excited to share some of the inspiring stories emerging as we turn the corner into our final week. And, to take a real-time look at our collective impact so far, click here.

Here are some of the top teams and stories so far in EcoChallenge 2016:

captureWillamette University is just behind our current university front-runner, Mount Hood Community College. With 100 team members, Willamette has saved over 2,100 gallons of water and over 160 pounds of CO2, travelled 67 miles by bus and 45 miles by bike, and diverted over 170 plastic water bottles from the landfill! They are also going head-to-head in a friendly EcoChallenge competition with Portland Community College EcoPanthers. “The EcoChallenge engages individuals to commit to personal behavior changes they stick with for two weeks, and quantifies benefits and impacts across our team for our community and the planet,” said Director of the Willamette University Sustainability Institute, Joe Abraham. “The goal is for participants to keep going and for the challenges they choose to lead to permanent personal behavior changes.” Just last week they published an article entitled Stop Waiting on the World to Change where Eric Lassahn in the Office of Community Service Learning shared that “Making a difference begins at the individual level, often with small changes that can collectively lead to large-scale transformation. Together, we can turn this very large ship around with myriad small course corrections.”

captureDelran Middle School in Delran, New Jersey is currently in 10th place overall and has 239 team members! So far the DMS Green Team has had a huge impact, with over 6,000 gallons of water saved. They’ve spend 1,600 additional minutes away from screens – instead spending over 4,700 minutes outdoors connecting with nature. One student posted to her EcoChallenge feed that she is “Working my hardest! The EcoChallenge helps us do everything we never thought of doing. My challenge is coming in handy by letting me help my enviroment.” Congrats to this inspiring Middle School team for making a huge difference and paving the way for a next generation of change agents!

captureOn the business front, Advanced Micro Devices (AMD) Green Team is leading the pack, with 260 members! AMD EcoChallenger Poorna Chandra is “feeling great to see that I am actually saving 19 pounds of Co2 per day!” The team has travelled over 1,400 additional miles by carpool and 526 miles by bike so far – saving over 3,500 pounds of CO2. They’ve volunteered 14 hours of their time in the community and have enjoyed 35 zero-waste meals (not to mention saving almost 7,000 gallons of water!). CLEAResult is just behind AMD, with 168 team members and going strong. CLEAResult EcoChallenger Kevin Zacharyasz posted that the EcoChallenge “shows what kind of impact we can make,” and Tara Colaruotolo wrote that “it really has opened my eyes to how simple changes can make a big impact.” Yes!

Amongst the cities and counties participating, the Multnomah County Community Team and its competitor team Multco Moves have 170 EcoChallengers collectively! Multnomah County Community team member Vanesa Mujcic shared that she is “very excited to join this year’s EcoChallenge and help the community by volunteering with my fellow co-workers! Neighborhood clean-up and SnowCap Food Bank are our projects to date!” So far they’ve volunteered 12 additional hours of their time in the community, traveled 86 extra miles by bike and saved over 60 pounds of CO2, and 450 gallons of water. We’ll leave you with an inspiring video created by the Multnomah County Community Team. Enjoy! And good luck to all as we head into our final week of EcoChallenge 2016!

NWEI’s Rob Nathan Receives Outstanding Young Professional Award from the Intertwine Alliance!

NWEI's Director of Digital Technology, Rob Nathan
NWEI’s Director of Digital Technology and recently awarded Outstanding Young Professional, Rob Nathan.

We are proud to announce that Rob Nathan, our Director of Digital Engagement,  was selected as an Outstanding Young Professional for The Intertwine Alliance’s 2016 Force of Nature Awards! The awards were presented during a ceremony on October 18th where Rob offered a speech. The Intertwine Alliance is a coalition of 150+ public, private and nonprofit organizations working to integrate nature more deeply into the Portland-Vancouver metropolitan region.

“There is no way that I could be engaged so deeply in this community if I didn’t have the support needed from NWEI and our staff. I am honored to work somewhere that understands the interconnection between racial equity, justice, and our environment, and an organization that has consistently supported my leadership development,” said Rob upon receiving news of the award.

Rob advances NWEI’s mission by leveraging digital technology to foster transformational learning and behavior change. He manages NWEI’s consistently growing EcoChallenge, which kicked off on October 14th with over 7,800 participants. Rob holds a master’s degree in Leadership for Sustainability Education from Portland State University and an undergraduate degree from Prescott College. He sits on the Emerging Leaders Board for Oregon Environmental Council, is a 2042 Leadership Fellow with the Center for Diversity and the Environment, and is a chairperson for Portland’s local chapter of Environmental Professionals of Color. He also volunteers for Portland African American Leadership Forum, recently helping to organize a community forum on affordable housing.

The NWEI team couldn’t agree more that Rob is an amazing Force of Nature – and we are honored to have him as part of the NWEI community!

Congratulations to NWEI’s Rob Nathan, center, who received an Outstanding Young Professional Award this week. 

Over 7,400 EcoChallengers and Counting!

captureNWEI’s annual EcoChallenge kicked off last Friday and we are off and running with over 7,400 EcoChallengers on 420 teams from over 40 countries.

And, the impact is already adding up! To date we’ve travelled over 2,600 miles by carpool, replaced over 1,500 lightbulbs, diverted over 2,300 disposable cups and over 6,300 plastic bottles from landfills, and saved over 100 pounds of paper! To check out our full collective impact as of day five, click here.

This year’s EcoChallengers are from all walks of life and are already making a difference in their communities. As of day five, EcoChallengers have had 530 conversations with friends and neighbors about sustainability issues and sent 33 letters to public officials. Kayla Little from the Mount Hood Community College Team is doing 16 Challenges for EcoChallenge and posted that she “talked with a friend about the importance of sustainability, how it helps our planet, and ultimately ourselves, and she has decided to start creating a more sustainable environment in her home! Starting with composting, recycling, and water conservation.” Yes! As another EcoChallenge participant posted in her feed today, “I alone cannot change the world, but I can cast a stone across the waters to create many ripples (Mother Theresa).”

It isn’t too late to join! You can still create a team or join the NW Earth Institute Community Team today. Simply choose your challenge and contribute to a healthy, vibrant and sustainable future with us today!



Today Is The Day!

unnamedThe 2016 EcoChallenge kicks off TODAY! If you’ve accepted the Challenge, thank you! If not, we hope you’ll join the 6,000 EcoChallengers who’ve stepped up to prove that small actions add up to real change! If you’re signed up, you can start checking in to log your actions now. Remember that the new platform is incredibly mobile friendly, so you can check in on your phone now too!

If you’re still looking to find out more and be inspired, we invite you to watch this short video about how the Challenge works and then head over to to join us! You have the power to make a big impact!

NWEI Staff Take on the 2016 EcoChallenge!

For many on the NWEI staff, our annual EcoChallenge has become an October tradition. Each year we not only engage others in taking action, we also dive in with our own EcoChallenges – and we have a lot of fun in the process! This year the NWEI team has chosen almost every kind of Challenge. We’ll be biking more, eating more local foods, spending more time in nature, living healthier lifestyles, installing rain barrels and cutting back on waste.

Here’s a look at what the NWEI team is focusing on this year. Want to join in the fun? Join the Northwest Earth Institute Community Team or create your own team before October 14th!

captureDirector of Membership and Engagement Liz Zavodsky will be focusing on energy savings, simplicity and community. She’ll be volunteering time in her community for this year’s EcoChallenge via a Community Challenge. “The energy of this year’s EcoChallenge is inspiring and fun. It’s exciting to see so many businesses and organizations using this as a tool for deeper engagement. Its also great to see so many individuals using this to connect with others and leverage our collective strength,” says Liz.


davidExecutive Director David Macek chose a Food Challenge – taking on the 100 Mile Diet and eating food raised and cultivated within a 100 mile radius of his home just outside of Portland. This is David’s first EcoChallenge with NWEI and he has been inspired by the different kinds of organizations joining the event. “Wow, what an amazing event to be part of! Since it’s my first rodeo on staff, I’ve decided to really challenge myself. My wife and I are both taking on the 100-Mile Diet Challenge. We’re excited to learn about all the food sources we have available in our local community.”

robDirector of Digital Technology Rob Nathan will be focusing on health, consumption and simplicity, eating no refined sugars and only buying the essentials. In an effort to live more intentionally, he will also maintain a record of all his purchases. “Now that we have this new web application, I am more excited than I have ever been to participate this year! I’m committing to a daily action and a one time action just so I can experience all the new features the site has to offer on tracking my collective impact. I will also be checking in exclusively on my mobile device to take advantage of the sites highly mobile functionality,” says Rob, who head’s up NWEI’s EcoChallenge efforts.

deborahDirector of Organizational and Higher Education Partnerships Deborah McNamara will be doing daily nature based activities with her three young boys – and will also conduct an energy audit and install a rain barrel at home. “I’m so excited to focus on home sustainability and family this EcoChallenge! I’ll finally install a rain barrel since they just became legal in Colorado. I’ll do an energy audit to see any areas of energy use that could be streamlined. And I look forward to some focused nature time with the kids. I’m so honored to be part of this community of change-makers that knows how to make a difference and has fun doing it,” says Deb.

lacyLacy Cagle, Director of Learning, will be cutting back on driving – only taking necessary trips – and will be focusing on a Nature Challenge by spending more time outside. She’ll be choosing walking over other forms of transit as often as possible. “Walking is my favorite mode of transportation. It’s easier to relax, be mindful, observe my neighborhood, chat with my neighbors, and really experience the seasons. I’m excited to take a walk every day with the purpose of just being present and enjoying my surroundings and my community,” says Lacy.

captureEcoChallenge Program Assistant Kelly Bauman will focus on Transportation and Food Challenges – only using muscle-powered transportation and public transportation during the EcoChallenge. He will also eat more local and organic foods (especially fruits and vegetables from local farms). “This year, my EcoChallenge is about food and wellness. I’m looking forward to learning more about how I can leverage better awareness of local food systems to make food choices I believe in,” says Kelly.


kerryNWEI’s Development and Communications Director Kerry Lyles will be eating a vegetarian diet during the EcoChallenge and commuting by bike 10 miles a day to cut back on carbon emissions — both things she has done regularly in the past and is using the EcoChallenge to jumpstart again. Kerry will also be taking on a “buy nothing” Challenge, refraining from purchasing anything other than food items during the EcoChallenge.

We believe that every person has the power to create positive action. We also believe change can be fun – and that the little things can make a big difference. We hope you will join us October 14th-28th for the EcoChallenge! 

← Older posts