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indexNWEI partner organization Catamount Earth Institute  just wrapped up a two week EcoChallenge, inspired by NWEI’s annual EcoChallenge held each October. For the past two weeks, leading up to today’s Earth Day, participants with Catamount Earth Institute in Vermont have formally challenged themselves to change at least one habit for the good of the Earth. Many participating maintained a blog about their adventures in taking action to address Food, Energy, Transportation, Trash and Water issues. Click here to browse stories of change.

The Catamount Earth Institute EcoChallengers are meeting today, on Earth Day, in Norwich, Vermont for a celebratory potluck and an exchange of challenges and solutions.

Happy Earth Day to all in NWEI’s broader community!

Photo of Pat McGovern’s one week, non-recyclable trash output

Pat McGovern, a New Hampshire Localvore and blogger about the Localvore Movement in the Upper Valley region of New Hampshire and Vermont recently told NWEI she decided to continue her waste reduction NWEI EcoChallenge. “It was a good consciousness raiser,” she said.  Pat shared this list of helpful tips she has been implementing in her efforts to reduce waste:

  • Plastic bags and small glass jars can go in your shopping bags for buying in bulk (tamari, peanut butter, walnuts, coffee, granola, sesame seeds, corn meal, flour, spices, dish detergent).
  • Use cloth napkins at home and don’t buy bottled water or soda. Rely on a stainless steel water bottle when away from home.
  • Don’t buy plastic wrap or aluminum foil. Use glass storage containers for leftovers.
  • Don’t buy food or beverages in cans (and avoid the BPA to boot).
  • Bring your own container for leftovers when dining out.
  • If possible, purchase milk from a local dairy that uses returnable bottles.
  • #5 plastic can go to Preserve Products for making toothbrushes, razor handles, etc. (Many grocery stores have a drop off station).
  • Consider composting worms to compost your vegetable peels, egg shells, toilet tissue tubes, cardboard cracker/cookie boxes, and restaurant napkins.

Pat notes, “A focus on local foods has definitely reduced my trash – I eat mostly whole foods – thus waste is mostly compostable. I have not yet solved the problem of plastic wrap around cheese or tofu, the plastic bags from bread, tortillas and English muffins (I bring them to the community garden for folks to carry their harvests home, but that only postpones their trip to the waste stream) or what to do with milk bottle caps and tortilla chip bags. I have started an album on my facebook page showing creative ways to keep trash out of the waste stream. I am also becoming more aware that trash reduction starts at the point of purchase!

I think the EcoChallenge is a great idea to activate folks and am looking forward to working with Barbara Duncan and NWEI’s partner organization Catamount Earth Institute in Vermont to organize EcoChallenges here in the Upper Valley.”

Pat also notes that foil tea bag non-recyclable wrappers were a source of trouble during her EcoChallenge (Pat enjoys Ginger Tea). A recent trip to the farmers market however allowed her to discover local ginger root.  “I am now making my own ginger root tea. No waste!” Click here for her ginger tea recipe.

Thanks for your inspiration, Pat!

Last month from October 1-15th 1,188 EcoChallengers and 179 teams took on EcoChallenges related to energy efficiency, water conservation, sustainable food options, alternative transportation and trash reduction, with 49 EcoChallengers raising $20,000 (all of which will go to support NWEI’s sustainability programs). Teams participating included corporate teams, higher education teams, faith organizations, families and community groups. We were thrilled to have The Standard, Portland General Electric, Energy Trust, 200 Market Building, Catlin Gabel School, Portland Community College, Davis Wright Tremaine and Portland Center Stage amongst the teams participating in this annual event.  98% of participants plan to continue their EcoChallenge activities.

Here are some quotes from 2012 EcoChallengers highlighting their favorite part of the Challenge. Thanks to all who participated last month!

“My favorite part was that in less than two
weeks my challenge became a habit.”

“Knowing that making small changes in our daily
routines can have a significant positive impact.”

“It always helps me realize how much it improves
my life to become more sustainable. Not only
does it improve the world around me but oft en
I save money, eat healthier, and help the local
economy.”

“Teaching my family to conserve.”

“Feeling a sense of community responsibility
when I thought about my actions each day.”

“Raising my consciousness – I thought about
the challenge throughout each day.”

“I liked having a daily emphasis on trying to
do something new that’s good for the earth.”

“I thought about it everyday, leading up to
and during the challenge. I think my behavior
has changed and doubt I will slip backwards.”

“Learning how to identify and incorporate
green’ living into my life. It made me aware
of my surroundings and how I can help as an
individual.”

This week KOIN Channel 6 reported on a how the NWEI EcoChallenge impacted one Portland family who took on a waste reduction challenge. The entire Tust family took on the EcoChallenge, each choosing a different action to focus on for the two week period.

Robert Tust reduced his shower time to 2 minutes a day and Meghan Tust chose trash reduction as her challenge, reducing packaging waste and buying more bulk foods at the store (she also eliminated disposable sandwich bags). Even five year old daughter Kaia Tust took on the EcoChallenge, reducing paper use for her arts and crafts and “saving trees” by only using recycled items for her art projects.

Watch Channel 6’s coverage of how this family’s EcoChallenge reminded them that “small changes do make an impact.”

For the short video, click here.

Today’s post is an excerpt from Eco Mothering Blog, where Donna DeForbes has been blogging about this month’s NWEI EcoChallenge and the implications of parenting ‘green.’ Here are some of the top things she and her family learned from participating in this year’s EcoChallenge (for their challenge they committed to doing one green thing every day):

  • Being outside makes us feel good. I’d forgotten how much since I don’t ride my bike to work anymore. (My husband continues to bike to work daily, even in downpours. He’s my alternative transportation hero!)…These past two weeks, I’ve felt more connected to nature whether it’s feeling the wind in my ears as I bike to zumba class or inhaling the damp earth and noticing leaves drift downward from their summer perches as I walk in the rain to a nearby meeting. It feels great.
  • Parts of items can be recycled. Like the cardboard pieces from new toy packaging… if I just take the time to separate them from the non-recyclable plastic bits. And aluminum yogurt lids that just need a quick rinse. And juice boxes minus the straw. I slowed down these past weeks to inspect items I usually toss quickly into the trash for any salvageable parts. Sofie rescued the plastic covers that came with our electric toothbrush heads – for what purpose, I don’t know, but I’m thrilled she got caught up in the reuse and re-purpose theme...
  • Turning computers off at night is pretty darn easy. My husband discovered this in his quest to be more energy efficient. (He remembered to turn lights off more frequently too!) When I asked if he’d continue this after the EcoChallenge, he said it seemed easy enough. And it’s saving us $100 per year!
  • I could be a vegetarian (almost). A lacto-ovo vegetarian, that is, because we still ate eggs and dairy. My body has felt really good, and I might attribute that to being on the fifth day of our vegetarian week… I had fun developing a veggie menu and really enjoyed eating the meals. I never left the table feeling hungry, which is something I envisioned, as if I needed meat to really fill me up. Admittedly, at this point, I am longing for a good burger or my bacon, beer and Brussels sprout soup. But I also feel like I can reintroduce meat slowly, and I aim to maintain a veggie menu several days per week. Doing this EcoChallenge as a family was a fun effort in working together to go green...

*For the full post, click here.

Today is the final day of EcoChallenge 2012! For today’s blog we are featuring Portland based Catlin Gabel School Sixth Graders, 55 of whom took on the EcoChallenge with a goal of reducing cafeteria food waste. Here is what team captain and teacher Carter Latendresse writes on his EcoChallenge blog:

“I teach 6th grade at Catlin Gabel School, and I will be the team captain for a team of 59: 55 students and four teachers. We will take on the Sustainable Food Options EcoChallenge that attempts to cut back on food waste while at school. We will weigh the food waste we generate as a group in a compost bucket for two weeks to see if we can decrease that amount over time…Our goal is to reduce our cafeteria food waste by 100% over a two-week period.”

Over the course of the two weeks the sixth graders have been weighing their food waste and composting it, learning about composting as well as becoming more aware of unnecessary food waste. Thanks to all the students for participating. And thanks to all who have participated in this year’s EcoChallenge!

One of our 177 EcoChallenge teams this year is headed up by Portland Mayoral Candidate Jefferson Smith. As team captain, he’s recruited 22 others to join him in the EcoChallenge, each contributing to a more sustainable campaign. Here is an excerpt of what they are up to.

As a campaign, we’ll work toward trash reduction by eliminating the use of disposable plastics and growing our existing office recycling. This will mean ordering less takeout. Pausing to figure out where we’re going to throw those coffee grounds. Taking a cup to the tap instead of reaching for a bottle of water. To do this we’ll have to slow down slightly from the rapid pace of the campaign. But it’s worth it.

Additionally, each of us will take on an individual challenge to stretch us personally. Chefs will learn how to cook with organic ingredients. Lifelong carnivores will learn that it’s not so bad to be vegetarian. Starbucks addicts will go local. And a very busy candidate will discover the side-benefits of taking just five minute showers…

To learn more about what this team is taking on, and to read the full story, click here. And thanks to all of our EcoChallengers who are on day 12 of the EcoChallenge!

This week we are happy to highlight EcoChallenger Bradford McKeown’s guest blog post about his experience with NWEI’s EcoChallenge. For last year’s EcoChallenge Bradford did all of his trips by bike or foot (riding 225 miles in 2 weeks!). This year he is taking on sustainable food as his EcoChallenge. Thanks Bradford for sharing your thoughts with us!

It seems like I always have a running mental list of changes I want to make in my life. Some of the things on the list would be good for me (like getting to the gym a little more often) and some would be good for me and the planet (like cutting back on red meat). But with a full-time job and a busy social life, it’s hard to get around to crossing them off the list.

That’s why October 1-15 is my favorite time of year—that’s when the Northwest Earth Institute’s EcoChallenge gives me an annual opportunity to focus on kick-starting personal (and environmental) progress.

Here’s how the EcoChallenge works: participants choose one change that will reduce their environmental impact and stick with it for two weeks. Challengers pick from one of five categories—water, trash, energy, food or transportation—and set a goal that is fun, stretches their comfort zone and makes a difference for themselves and the planet. Each EcoChallenger shares their challenge with friends and family (via e-mail, social media and the EcoChallenge website), which provides an extra incentive to stick with the goal for two weeks.

For my first EcoChallenge, I committed to using human-powered transportation (my bike or my feet) for all local trips of less than 10 miles one-way.  

Prior to the EcoChallenge my bike hadn’t seen much use in a while. When I hauled it out for a tune-up and a few upgrades it was a dusty mess with two flat tires. The first time I saddled up I was a bit apprehensive. My commute was only four miles each way, but half of the route was on a rural road with a 45mph speed limit and a narrow, bumpy bike lane with a steep ditch to one side.

At first, a couple of trips into town and back in a single day left me pretty worn out.  However, I was surprised at how quickly my stamina and confidence increased. Finding better routes and giving myself a little extra time so I didn’t have to pedal quite so hard also made a big difference.

Perhaps my most pleasant discovery during the EcoChallenge was how much more engaged with my environment I was when biking.  I could hear the fellow playing the guitar on his porch as I passed by, smell the chicken pot pie someone was cooking and feel the difference between a chilly morning and a sunny afternoon. 

And after riding a few miles I was also more awake and alert than I ever was after a cup of coffee (not that I’ve given up my morning coffee). The extra calories burned certainly didn’t hurt my waistline, and I found I was even sleeping better.  An added bonus was spending less money at the grocery store when going shopping on my bike, as I had to consider how much I wanted to haul home (though I should note that I was impressed with how much I could carry with a couple of panniers and a few bungee cords). I received all kinds of encouragement from friends and family too—some were even inspired to try biking more themselves.

At the end of my first EcoChallenge I’d ridden approximately 225 miles that I would have otherwise driven, and I had also saved enough in gas money in two weeks that I’d already paid for half of the cost of the upgrades I made to my bike. Today, two years later, I’m still biking to work all the time.

For this year’s EcoChallenge, I’m committing to choosing sustainable food options. It should be an interesting adventure, since I‘m not much of a cook. But I know from past years that I’ll learn a lot along the way and my life (and diet) will end up better for it.

If you’re interested in joining me, find out more and choose your own challenge at www.ecochallenge.org

*It isn’t too late to sign up and join in the fun through the 15th!

Sally Schoeller is president of the Green Team for the DoubleTree by Hilton Portland.

Yesterday Sustainable Business Oregon covered DoubleTree’s EcoChallenge efforts, where Green Team President Sally Schoeller is working to replace packaged food items with more sustainable alternatives. They have already begun buying in bulk and making their own granola bars in house while searching for options less dependent on packaging. Below are excerpts from Sustainable Business Oregon’s article:

As the president of the Green Team at the DoubleTree, I have a role, along with my team members, in challenging the hotel to meet sustainability goals and creating opportunities to advance eco-friendly practices. This means coming up with innovative ideas that increase our impact and leveraging our leadership to help drive corporate sustainability at the top.

When I learned about Northwest Earth Institute’s EcoChallenge, we were in the process of installing lower wattage, energy-saving light bulbs in the five-story DoubleTree parking garage. With this project complete, we were ready take to on a new endeavor, and the EcoChallenge could not have come at a better time.

The EcoChallenge event challenges businesses and community members to try bold, new sustainability practices over the course of two weeks and — if it goes well — adopt a new habit by the time the event is over. We saw the EcoChallenge as the perfect opportunity to take DoubleTree’s sustainability to the next level. The majority of our departments are participating in this event and taking ownership over their green practices.

One EcoChallenge goal that we are particularly proud of will have a lasting impact on hotel operations after the event concludes. By October 15, the DoubleTree aims to replace prepackaged food items currently offered in our Executive Meeting Center with more sustainable alternatives. In food packaging alone, Americans discard 570 million pounds each day. Excess packaging waste has taken a toll on our environment and continues to be a growing concern.

The DoubleTree is already making progress towards reaching our goal. We immediately removed individually wrapped candy and are now offering these sweets to our guests in serving dishes filled with candy that we purchase in bulk. We have been making granola bars in-house as a temporary solution as we look for new food vendors who can offer these and other customer favorites in bulk…

The NWEI’s EcoChallenge has inspired the DoubleTree to move further along our path of sustainability. We are committed to lead by example, sharing our successes and failures with the Portland community and our industry partners. We encourage others interested in participating in this year’s challenge to sign up online today. It is not too late to join us, set a goal that stretches your comfort zone and makes our state a more sustainable place to live.

For the full piece, click here.

Kudos to EcoChallenger Chantal Angot, who is running her restaurant by bike for the duration of NWEI’s two-week EcoChallenge! Chantal, who runs Tapalaya Restaurant in Portland, Oregon, has decided to lock up her car keys and conduct all her business by bike. She’s also created a Tapalaya EcoChallenge Team with 22 participants choosing their own challenges.

Here are some highlights from Chantal’s EcoChallenge Blog:

My challenge is to run my restaurant by bike!  I will lock up my car keys and only ride my bike for the whole two weeks.  On shopping days, I will make use of my friend’s bike trailer to haul the groceries…

October 5th, 2012
The trailer full of groceries seemed just a little bit heavier today, I must admit.  My legs were burning on the hills but, with weather this amazing, I can’t really complain!

October 4th, 2012
Beautiful (if a bit windy) day to be out and about.  Had to make the dreaded trip to Hayden Island – discovered a great bike route and had a pleasant ride – a little slower on the way back with a cooler full of ice + crab in the trailer.  Overall a success!…

To read more about Chantal’s challenge and the Tapalaya EcoChallenge Team, click here.

As we enter day five of the 2012 EcoChallenge, a blogger interviews participants on why they signed up and what they are challenging themselves with. Here are some snapshots of EcoChallenge participants and the reasons they’ve committed to two weeks of action. For the complete blog post, click here.

Why did you decide to sign up for EcoChallenge?

Kelli- I decided to sign up for the EcoChallenge for a couple of reasons. First of all, it sounds like fun. I love finding new ways to be green, and this type of challenge is right up my alley. I have been recycling and upcycling and the like for years now and love encouraging others to do so as well! However, the EcoChallenge is especially important to me because (confession time) for the last several months I have been completely slacking and haven’t been doing any of the aforementioned things. When we moved, we left behind our recycling and composting centers. Despite building new ones being on my to-do list, it simply hasn’t happened yet. So the EcoChallenge is the perfect motivation for me to get my butt back in gear!

Jessica – I signed up for EcoChallenge so that I could have a sort of deadline to help me focus on some goals that had been floating around in my life for a while. I have been wanting to set a realistic number of bags of trash that we should produce and I’ve also been focusing on all the disposable things in my life. I’m trying to cut back on those.

Xza– I work well on deadlines and goals. EcoChallenge filled both of those needs so I wouldn’t procrastinate making my home greener and safer… Like Jessica, I wanted to reduce the amount of garbage we put out each month as well as get rid of disposables (plates, cups, napkins, etc.) and EcoChallenge put my desire in motion.

Geneva– I signed up for the EcoChallenge because all of my friends were doing it, so I figured I should hop on the bandwagon.  😉  But on a more serious note, I signed up because I believe that Ben and I run a very green household (we only put out our garbage once a month but we have two recycle bins) and I was interested to see if we could become even “greener” than we already strive to be.

Risa- I signed up for EcoChallenge for a few different reasons: (a) it is an organization that my best friend works for and he inspires me in so many ways to be more eco friendly, (b) I love the concept that NWEI has come up with this challenge. It is such a great way to get involved and get friends and family involved by actually doing something small that will leave a huge impact. (c) Although I have gotten better at being more green, there are still ways to improve. I want to challenge myself and my family to be more Earth friendly on a daily basis.

What is the way you are challenging yourself for the two-week time period? How do you plan on executing the change?

Kelli- For the two-week time period, I plan on recycling as much as possible to reduce our waste, composting, drying ALL of our clothes on the clothesline (instead of just part of them), work on energy reduction and water conservation. I plan to achieve these goals by building a new recycling center to organize our recyclables, making a new compost bin (and pulling my counter top compost bucket back out), unplugging unused appliances, turning off lights when not being used, taking shorter showers, and so much more. I can’t wait!

Jessica- I plan on producing only one bag of trash in the next two weeks, recycling as much as possible, and going to 100% cloth diapering.

Xza – I would like to limit my amount of trash to 1.5 bags.I know I know, weird number, but that reduces the amount of waste we put out by 50%. We will also be using 100% cloth up until October 13 (we leave for a trip and can’t use CDs during that time) and I will only order coffee or tea if I have my reusable cup with me.

Geneva– As I was browsing through the EcoChallenge topics, I noticed one on sustainability and eating.  We haven’t always been responsible with sourcing our food in ways that are good for the environment, so we are going to increase our purchases of fresh foods and decrease the amount of food packaging we recycle every week.

Risa- I plan on working on my family’s energy usage. This means hand-washing dishes, hanging clothes to dry, and of course making sure my kids remember to shut off the lights. I, too, plan on being more responsible with our food-buying habits. We will be integrating more fresh fruits and veggies into our meals and buying as much food in bulk as possible to reduce the amount packaging.

For the full post, click here. If you haven’t already, you can still register to participate at www.ecochallenge.org.

Donna DeForbes in Warwick, RI is taking on the EcoChallenge and is doing one green thing each day. Below is an excerpt from her EcoChallenge musings on her Eco-Mothering Blog.

So the EcoChallenge begins, and I am filled with motivation. I’ve shepherded my family into this (some less willingly than others) as we follow the green-brick road to sustainable living…I’ve decided to do one green thing each day during this two-week challenge…

Energy Efficiency
My first order of business was to support clean energy utilities…Encouraging renewable energy companies is a green brick on the road. In my ultimate green vision, our house would operate completely on wind and solar power, which would be cheaper, cleaner and would occupy the kids with games of ring around the wind turbine…

 
I’ve gently steered my husband toward some energy-saving actions such as turning off lights (he’s a bit absent-minded) and turning off his laptop instead of keeping it in sleep mode. U.S. Department of Energy guidelines suggest powering down if you’re away for at least two hours. This technical blog figures that you can save close to $100 annually per computer just by turning it off overnight…
 
Alternative Transportation
For this EcoChallenge, I’m committing to walk or bike to places within a mile of my house (except the grocery store). This means biking to my three-times-per-week zumba class…

Trash Reduction
Sofie’s focus appears to be recycling. She’s been monitoring our bathroom use, darting in to claim toilet paper rolls for her kindergarten class…While our family recycles quite a bit, I’ve not been industrious about toilet paper tubes, mostly because my habit is to toss it right into the bathroom trashcan instead of saving it for the kitchen recycle bin. So, kudos to my daughter for picking up the slack there.
 
On this issue, I went to recycle the plastic container of deli ham I had bought and realized it was a #7. The #7 plastic is typically not recyclable (although Rhode Island now takes them), and it can contain BPA, which studies have shown leaches potential hormone disruptors...Perhaps next time I could wait in line at the deli and bring my own containers? Or forgo the ham altogether and go meatless more often. That’s in my plan for next week. Stay tuned.
For the full story and photos, click here.

bePortland covered Friday night’s EcoChallenge Launch Party and here is what they had to say:

The Green Drop Garage, an environmentally friendly auto garage located in SW Portland was a unique yet fitting setting for the 2012 EcoChallenge launch party on Friday night. The crowd at the event gathered together around a lot full of old cars and inside a garage littered with disassembled motor parts to listen to some free music, have some drinks, eat some food  all while working towards a greener earth.

EcoChallenge is an annual event that challenges everyone to make small changes in their life to help reduce their impact on the environment. For two weeks participants are asked to take part in different categories ranging from transportation to trash, energy and food. The EcoChallenge is helping its participants become aware and make a change in the way they do things in their everyday lives in hopes of creating a lifelong change for the better.

Three Portland based bands played for the event…Also in attendance was Jefferson Smith, one of the mayoral candidates for Portland. The candidate was the perfect politician to speak at the eco event, with his own campaign dedication to sustainability as well as environmentally minded policies. Smith mixed it up, going from genuine humor and then getting serious and launching into the importance of some of the more crucial environmentally issues affecting the Portland area…

The evening was a lot of fun but most importantly it helped remind the audience about the importance that one change in their life can also make on the world as a whole. The festivities helped to bring awareness to EcoChallenge and their idea that a small change in the lives of a few can create a great change in the world…

For more photos of the event and the full story, click here. Also, its not too late to register! Click here to register.

As you likely know, today marks day number one of NWEI’s Annual EcoChallenge. From October 1-15th, people and organizations throughout North America are choosing one action and committing to it for two weeks. The EcoChallenge is an opportunity to change your life for good. Common wisdom says it takes two weeks to change a habit: if you can stick with a new behavior for 14 days in a row, you’re a lot more likely to keep it up for good.  Participants share their progress online, and after two weeks of shared inspiration, camaraderie, and a little friendly peer pressure, most find they’ve changed their habits—and reduced their impact—for good.

Today we’re highlighting Kelly’s Merrick’s EcoChallenge: to buy no food with packaging. Here is an excerpt from her blog, Kelly’s Sustainable Life: Its about more than just the environment. Its about health and happiness too.

Like most people, I love a good challenge, especially when it comes to sustainability. So this year, when my company decided to start a team and participate in the Northwest Earth Institute’s 2012 EcoChallenge, I immediately decided that Josh and I needed pick something that would be a big challenge. As you know, we already do most of the basics – we recycle, compost, take public transit, buy local, and sustainable products. So I wanted to pick something that would a real challenge.

So what did we decide?

For two weeks, we’re not going to buy any food with packaging. None. Not even recyclable materials. The goal for this challenge is to focus on the “reduce” part of “reduce, reuse, recycle.”

The Rules:

  1. We can eat food we already have in the kitchen, even if it has packaging
  2. No stocking up on packaged food before the challenge (starting today)
  3. Recyclable materials count
  4. We can eat in restaurants but have to bring our own container if we want to take food home
  5. If we are invited to dinner at someone’s house, that doesn’t count unless we are asked to contribute (we have to draw the line somewhere). But rule #4 still applies to any food we bring home.

Challenges:

  • Cheese – I can’t have cow’s cheese, so we only eat goat cheese, which I’m not sure where to get without packaging so we will have to go without cheese for two weeks.
  • Beer – We can have kegged beer, but not from bottles
  • Milk – We’ll have to make our own almond milk (we don’t buy cow’s milk anyway)
  • Beans and other canned items – We’ll have to purchase them dried in bulk and then hydrate them, which will take more planning for meals
  • SoupCycle – I will have to go without my SoupCycle subscription, as it comes in plastic containers each week

  Frequently Asked Questions:

  1.  Why are you counting recyclable containers?  Reduce is the key here. While recycling is    better than throwing things away, reducing waste, recyclable or not, is always the better option. Plus, it is more challenging.
  2.  What packaging waste do we generate the most of? Based off of a quick assessment of the garbage in our can now, our garbage consists of takeout containers, almond milk containers and bags from snack foods. Our recycling consists of a lot of aluminum cans, egg cartons and beer bottles. 
  3.  How are you going to have time to prepare everything from scratch? Luckily we  already eat a lot of fresh veggies and fruit from the Farmer’s Market, and we already purchase a lot of items from the bulk section using our own containers. The challenge is going to be finding time to cook our own beans and making our own almond milk. I like to improvise the food we eat during the week, and with dried items it’s going to be harder to make dinner if I have to soak and cook beans, as opposed to opening up a can.

I am really excited to start our challenge.

For the full story and to visit Kelly’s blog, click here. And, it isn’t too late to register for the EcoChallenge! Join us today.

In the Portland area? Join the local NWEI community in kicking off the 2012 EcoChallenge, which formally begins Monday, October 1st! The EcoChallenge Launch Party will be held Friday, September 28th, 2012 from 8pm to 12am at the Green Drop Garage (1417 SE 9th St., Portland).

Portland Mayoral candidate Jefferson Smith (who is also participating in this year’s EcoChallenge) will be in attendance along with over 150 local NWEI supporters and EcoChallengers. Enjoy great community, inspiration for your EcoChallenge, free dessert, raffle prizes, music and more.

Haven’t registered for the EcoChallenge yet? You can register here.

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