You are currently browsing the monthly archive for July 2012.

We are excited to bring you the latest edition of our EarthMatters newsletter. The Summer 2012 EarthMatters overviews our current Change for Good campaign and some big new developments in NWEI’s future. You’ll also read some inspiring Stories of Change from Emily Reed, Bala Cadambi, and Lena Rotenberg, NWEI volunteers from across the country.
Click here to download your copy of our Summer 2012 EarthMatters.

The print edition of our newsletter goes out seasonally to members of the Northwest Earth Institute – if you are not already a member consider making a donation to become a member today.
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Thanks to Development Associate Liz Zavodsky for today’s blog.

Here in Portland, we have what seems to be an endless option of consignment stores and access to perfectly good, gently used, clothing, furniture, houseware goods, bikes, shoes, and baby items. For the months of July though December, NWEI has partnered with one of these clothing stores — the Buffalo Exchange on 1036 W Burnside in Portland. For the next six months, every time someone shops at this Buffalo Exchange location and either brings their own bag or does not use one at all, they will be given a wooden nickel to place in a box of their nonprofit of choice. NWEI is one of these organizations and will get a nickel for each wooden nickel placed in our box.

Kerry, our Development Director, uses her NWEI  bag when shopping.

For those of you in the Portland area, it’s easy to participate. If you feel the need to do some summer cleaning, you can take your men’s or women’s clothing (in good condition, of course!) into Buffalo Exchange and shop while you wait for them to go through your items. You can take store credit or cash for the clothes, shoes, belts, and bags you bring in, and if they do not take all that you have, you can leave it with them to donate or take it home with you to donate yourself. If you are itching for something new and fun for a decent price, this is a great way to treat yourself. If it’s back to school time, Buffalo Exchange can be a good place to start for school shopping. Just remember, take your own bag, and please place your wooden nickel in the NWEI donation box.

If you are not in Portland but still want to support NWEI, there are many ways to do so: become a member, give a gift membership, organize a discussion course, like us on Facebook, become a monthly donor, and participate in our EcoChallenge happening this October. If you like the concept of consignment stores and all they have to offer, explore what options you have in your own city. Are there consignment options for furniture, clothing, books, or shoes? If you have not been to your local consignment store, consider making a visit. Find out how they support local programs and organizations in your area. These community-oriented businesses usually embrace the opportunity to support others, so if they do not have a wooden nickel system or something else set up, talk with them about the possibility.

Reusing your bags can be better for the planet, and can help your community, too!

Here at Northwest Earth Institute, we’re always sharing inspiring stories and events with each other. Doing this work can often be overwhelming and discouraging, but there is also so much room for transformation and hope. (We’re using David Orr’s definition of hope as a “verb with its sleeves rolled up” here!)

Recently, Annie Leonard released a new video on “The Story of Change.” We’re already big fans of Annie Leonard’s work, particularly her original video, “The Story of Stuff.” But we really like that “The Story of Change” offers ideas and inspiration for collaboration and change — just what we all need. You can watch the video here. The website also features a quiz you can take to find out what kind of changemaker you are — builder, networker, resister, communicator, nurturer, or investigator.

What inspires you and keeps you motivated to take responsibility and make change?

What kind of changemaker are you?

This blog post was written by NWEI’s wonderful summer intern, Caroline Cozens.

Now that summer has officially arrived in force, we thought that it would be a good time to share our sustainable summer squelcher secrets with you. While it’s hard to beat the heat all the time, hopefully you can use these tips to help you be a little more conservative in your energy consumption during these hot summer days.

  • When at home, try to mainly use fans instead of A/C. When you must turn the A/C on, keep the fan running so you don’t have to blast the cool air as much.
  • If you are doing any summer gardening, think about planting some shade trees around your home. These trees not only giving you shade and cooler temperatures, but if placed near your A/C unit, can help it run more efficiently.
  • Wear loose-fitting and organic materials to help keep your body temperature down.
  • Try to use your stove and oven less, make salads and break out your outside grill.  By keeping the heat down in your home, you are making your fans and A/C’s work less and are using less energy overall.
  • When it comes to meal time, go for light entrees, and try to add a little spice whenever you can. Spicy foods make you sweat, without raising your body temperature, so you are left with an overall cool feeling — that is, everywhere except for your tongue. Which brings us to our next tip:
  • Drink lots of water. Nothing can help you beat the summer heat better than staying hydrated. While you’re at it, ditch those disposable water bottles! Remember to take your reusable water bottle with you when heading out.
  • Try to get out of your house in the evenings to enjoy a break from the heat, go for a bike ride or just a walk around the neighborhood. It can be a break for you and for your A/C.

Hopefully these tips can help you stay cooler and more energy efficient – even during the heat wave!

Today’s blog is a re-post from 2010, but we think it’s a nice reminder of all of the other ‘R’ verbs we can use besides ‘recycle’: reduce, reuse, repurpose…

Anytime the NWEI Outreach Team receives a Priority envelope in the mail, we experience a feeling of dread, as it usually means one of our course book shipments was undeliverable.  However, a few weeks ago, when we received such an envelope, it was thankfully a Menu for the Future book from a course participant who sent us back their book for us to reuse.  We appreciate when folks occasionally do this, as it provides an opportunity to help a few more folks participate in the courses.  However, when people outside of the Portland area ask if they can return their course book for reuse, we prefer to have them share the book with someone in their community, to help spread the courses further there and also save the book from being shipped again.  However, this is not the only good way to reuse a course book…

5 Great Ways to Reuse an NWEI Course Book:

  1. Give it to someone else in your community who is interested in organizing a discussion group
  2. Give or send it to a politician to encourage more integration of sustainability in policy-making
  3. Donate it to your local library
  4. Give it to a local sustainability awareness nonprofit, PTA, or high school
  5. Compost it–your course books are printed on 100% recycled content paper with soy-based inks.  Menu for the Future could literally help you start a garden!

We’d love to hear your ideas–submit your comments to us!

Happy Fourth of July!

Today, we celebrate the U.S. winning its independence from the rule of Great Britain. We at NWEI treasure that independence, and the responsibility that accompanies being American citizens. We extend our gratitude to all who work to make our country safer, our world better and our future brighter.

This Independence Day, we ask you to consider what things you crave independence from in your life — Injustice? Illness? Overconsumption? Dirty energy? Toxic chemicals? Debt?

What steps can you take to declare independence for yourself and others affected by these unwanted influences? What can you do to create positive change, whether small or big? How can you celebrate your citizenship by joining with others to make a difference?

As Lynne Westmoreland says on the Humane Connection blog, “We can declare our individual independence from advertising, cultural “norms,” and unhealthy and inhumane actions. We can choose instead to be independent thinkers and visionary pioneers, and to practice collaboration, community, and true freedom for all to be happy, healthy, and respected.” We can also work for true freedom and independence, as a whole community, from those that don’t have our best interests in mind.

This Independence Day, celebrate your freedom by exercising your power as a citizen, and by showing appreciation for all who give of themselves to create the world we dream of.

Help the environment, support NWEI and enter for a chance to win an iPad® from our partners at NW Natural when you enroll in their paperless billing program.

Between July 1 and Aug. 31, 2012, NW Natural customers can cast their vote for one of four local environmental nonprofit organizations to receive a portion of a $25,000 donation by enrolling in paperless billing.

The four nonprofit organizations are: Northwest Earth Institute, Oregon Wild, The Friends of Ridgefield National Wildlife Refuge and Focus the Nation.

Here’s how it works:

  • Customers can vote for one of four nonprofit organizations to receive a portion of a $20,000 donation when they enroll in NW Natural’s paperless billing program by Aug. 31. Paperless billing helps save time and reduces bill clutter and paper waste.
  • Donations made to the nonprofit organizations will be based on the percentage of votes they receive from customers.
  • The nonprofit that gets the most votes will also receive a $5,000 bonus donation.
  • Customers can vote when they enroll at nwnatural.com/paperless. Currently enrolled customers are also eligible to vote.
  • NW Natural customers who participate in the program also have a chance to win one of three iPads®.

Cast your vote for NWEI when you sign up for NW Natural’s paperless billing today!

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