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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!

One of NWEI’s 30 partner organizations, Catamount Earth Institute, is wrapping up their Healthy People, Healthy Planet initiative, celebrating 17 discussion courses completed this Winter and Spring! They ran 12 World of Health groups, 4 Choices for Sustainable Living groups and one Menu for the Future group. CEI is now gearing up to host two programs on lawn chemicals as follow up, providing tangible information and action opportunities for course participants. Follow up offerings will focus on “Creating a Healthy Landscape” and how to have lawns without chemicals.

Catamount Earth Institute director Barbara Duncan says “It was Northwest Earth Institute activists from Port Townsend, Washington that spurred me on to try organizing multiple groups of one program…” There are two more World of Health courses starting in April at the Richards Free Library in Newport, NH and the Canaan Town Library in Canaan, NH. The Catamount Earth Institute focuses outreach in the Upper Valley region of Vermont and New Hampshire.

Barbara Duncan of the Catamount Earth Institute in Vermont, a partner organization of the Northwest Earth Institute, recently announced their winter initiative: a series of Healthy People, Healthy Planet discussion groups based on the World of Health discussion course created by NWEI. Courses will be happening at multiple local libraries, food co-ops, a nature center, the Upper Valley Land Trust, local bookstores and the Women’s Health Resource Center. Thanks Barbara for sharing this update!

Catamount’s winter project is offering Healthy People, Healthy Planet discussion groups. Winter in the Upper Valley is long, dark, and cold; one way to cope is to gather with friends and neighbors for good conversation, on a lively topic …  such as shedding light on the connections between our health and the health of the planet.

Healthy People, Healthy Planet conversations are being hosted at 15 venues around the Upper Valley this winter. The 6-session series topics include preventive medicine, food issues, our chemical legacy, simplicity and consumption, and healthy natural systems.

 This free discussion series is based on a discussion guide/anthology, A World of Health, by the Northwest Earth Institute of Portland, Oregon. Guides are available at the Hanover Co-op service desk for $15. (Participating libraries have discussion guides available on loan to their Healthy People, Healthy Planet group participants.) This series of community conversations began with a group at the Grantham Town Hall. Upcoming groups are hosted by the Baldwin Library, Wells River on Sunday, January 8; Shiretown Books, Woodstock, January 11; and Quechee Library on January 12…Sponsoring organizations for the 2012 discussion groups are the Catamount Earth Institute, Co-op Food Stores, the League of Women Voters of the Upper Valley, Sierra Club, Sustainable Hanover, the Upper Valley Land Trust, Upper Valley Localvores, and the Upper Valley Household Hazardous Waste Committee.

We’re grateful to the Jack and Dorothy Bryne Foundation, the Mascoma Saving Bank Foundation, the Upper Valley Sierra Club, the Stettenheim Foundation, the Frank and Brinna Sands Foundation, and King Arthur Flour for subsidizing the discussion guides and providing sets of books for loan by participating libraries. Thanks also to the Co-op Food Stores, the Upper Valley Food Co-op and Health Connections of the Upper Valley for purchasing sets of books to share with discussion groups.

Catamount Earth Institute will soon be on Facebook so that discussion group members can share their thoughts, concerns and information. See you there!

If you are local to Vermont and want to see a listing of where groups will be taking place, click here.

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