Today is the start of the 2nd annual NCW EcoChallenge! This collaborative 2-week long event is exactly what Sustainable Wenatchee is all about: making changes in our everyday lives that add up when community members come together to make a difference.
The EcoChallenge platform is provided by the Northwest Earth Institute, a non-profit out of Portland, OR. But the muscle behind making the challenge happen locally, both this year and last, has been from Carolyn Griffin-Bugert with Climate Conversations NCW. This year, I reached out to Carolyn and the CC NCW crew to see if Sustainable Wenatchee could get involved. The challenge is also sponsored by Chelan County PUD, Link Transit, Stemilt, and Waste Management, who all helped to decide on the actions available in the challenge.
So how does it work? Participants register for free at ncw.ecochallenge.org. In order to participate you have to live in Chelan or Douglas counties. You can register as an individual by joining the “Community Team” or you can join an existing team or create a team of your own. So far, there are over 60 teams competing. Once you’re signed up, you get to choose up to eight recurring and up to eight one-time actions within nine different categories. You earn points for completing actions, connecting with your community and sharing your story. Sustainable Wenatchee helped to curate the actions within the “Sustainable Community” and “Simplicity” categories. Chelan County PUD helped choose the Energy category actions, Link Transit helped with Transportation, and Waste Management helped with - you guessed it - Waste.
Stemilt is also a major sponsor of the EcoChallenge. Many aren't aware that your yard waste collected by Waste Management actually goes to Stemilt for composting. They also have the Stemilt Organic Recycling Center, or SORC, where you can drop off yard waste for $10 per cubic yard or purchase finished compost for $34 per cubic yard. It is located at 1465 S. Wenatchee Ave. Learn more at Stemilt's Sustainability webpage or by following SORC on Facebook.
But back to the challenge. With some actions, you get to quantify how much or how often you’ll do something. By doing this, we get to see how much of an impact we have as a whole during the challenge. Last year, 744 participants in 99 teams completed almost 30,000 different actions!
Here are some of the impacts from last year’s challenge:
3,000 miles traveled by bus or carpool
nearly 1,000 miles by bike and by foot
over 40,000 gallons of water saved
over 41,000 minutes spent in nature
1,700 more servings of fruits & veggies
over 1,500 meatless meals
almost 1,600 hours volunteered
over 4,000 plastic bottles saved from the landfill
over 400 pounds of waste composted
2,700 pounds of carbon emissions saved
Isn’t that amazing? And if for some reason that doesn’t motivate you to get involved, there are of course, prizes. LOTS of prizes. A few dedicated Climate Conversations NCW volunteers canvassed the valley asking business owners for donations, and they delivered! First of all, the top three teams will win cash prizes to donate to the non-profit of their choice. The organization just has to be located in Chelan or Douglas county and be approved as a legitimate non-profit by the Community Foundation of NCW. Team captains also have a chance to win an exclusive prize of $100 Pybus Bucks.
Then there are the individual prizes. To qualify for each daily prize, just log on to the EcoChallenge website and record the actions you completed that day. Then your name goes into a drawing for a prize. There are actually going to be multiple prizes given away each and every day. Many of them come from the event sponsors: energy conservation kits from Chelan county PUD worth $100 each, $25 gift cards to the Stemilt Retail Store, and three 2-zone bus passes from Link worth $70 each. In addition, there are thousands of dollars worth of prizes donated from other businesses. Feel like being pampered? We’ve got massages, facials and pedicure gift certificates to give away. Want to get active? How about lift tickets to Stevens Pass, bike rentals, kayak or paddle board rentals at Lake Chelan, or a 3-month gym membership? We also have gift certificates to local restaurants and coffee shops. If you’re wanting to keep the eco-friendly vibe going on even after the challenge ends, you can win a tumbling composter or a squirrel-proof bird feeder. Finally, the grand prize! Anyone who has at least 75 points at the end of the challenge is entered to win a brand new Apple iPad.
In this two week challenge we have the opportunity to come together as a community, be a part of a team, work together to reduce our environmental impact, and the chance to win a lot of really great prizes. The ONLY downside is that there are a limited number of spots available, so get yours if you haven't registered yet! You can register at any point during the challenge as long as there is space. Ready, set, go!