Springfield EcoChallenge 2-23 October 2019

Why we should challenge ourselves: In an age where we are becoming increasingly aware of the negative impact many of our habits and inventions are having on this planet and how quickly we need to reverse them before the damage has gone too far, it is important for communities of individuals making small changes to band together and have a bigger impact as a whole. There is a lot of talk about our impact on the oceans and the air which is truly concerning, but it can be hard when these things and their consequences are not notably apparent in our day to day lives to feel their urgency. The sad thing is, everywhere is being affected.

Someone who is particularly aware of the effects humans are having on Springfield and the surrounding area, especially along our river banks, is Kelly Stettner the director of the Black River Action Team. Some of her thoughts…

“Trash – cleaning up the river bed and banks over the past 19 years has taught me that it never truly ends.  We find such a wide variety of items year after year, and both the quantity and ‘quality’ change – we see older stuff exposed after heavy scour events like TS Irene; we find more stuff as volunteers branch out and tackle new sites further upstream.  So the overall volume doesn’t really seem to change. Cigarette butts seem to be the biggest “constant,” it almost feels that some people hoard them just to dump in a specific spot. If people could reduce the amount of packaging we waste, recycle as much as is pragmatic, reuse and repurpose things whenever possible…we could slow down the rate at which we’re tossing things into landfills.  As individuals, we can change the marketplace by our demand: what we demand and how much we demand.”

Other areas of concern Kelly has noted are stream and river manipulation, the “growing” problem of people bringing in exotic, decorative plants that are actually destructively invasive, and water quality. All of these issues are present right here at home, and we have the power to come together and make a difference for the better! If we do nothing together, the problem will only get worse.

As a business the Co-op recognizes that we have a larger impact and thus even more responsibility to make a change in the way we operate. This isn’t always easy, and certainly isn’t straight forward, but we have been making an effort and have had some success. We have lessened the amount of plastic used in some areas of the store by replacing the items with compostable options, brought in metal straws, made reusable containers more readily available for use in our bulk aisle, and we have encouraged the bringing in of containers, mugs, and bags for bulk items, drinks, and carrying out your shopping with a credit for each container. This is only the start of our dreams.

What the EcoChallenge gives us an opportunity to do is work on our habits as individuals in a workplace with a fun twist! Changing even the smallest of our habits can add up to a large effect and is more easily within our control.

What is the EcoChallenge? As described by EcoChallenge itself:

“EcoChallenge.org is a social change platform designed to positively shift the values and decisions individuals and organizations make about transportation, food, materials, energy use, and other lifestyle choices that drive emissions and environmental degradation. The platform is a trusted tool by sustainability leaders within businesses, schools, and communities to accomplish their ambitious engagement goals.”

It is also good to note that this challenge is worldwide and the site provides statistics for the impact we have by participating in it. No matter who has the most points by accomplishing their goals, by accomplishing anything the planet will be better off.

Who can do it? You can do it! The Co-op is, and you can too! The Springfield Energy Committee has been promoting the EcoChallenge in Springfield and talking with businesses, organizations, and individuals to encourage the forming of teams. You can even form a team with your friends! However, Char Osterlund, who has been the main promoter of the event, has kindly created a team for Springfield community members who need a team to join.

All you need to do is go to https://peoples.ecochallenge.org, join, search for Springfield VT in teams or create your own, and select the challenges you want to face for the next three weeks! 

If you do create your own team or have any questions send Char Osterlund an email at: charmf@vermontel.net. She would love to know about your participation to assess the outreach of the EcoChallenge promotion in the area, and of course would gladly provide any information needed about the EcoChallenge site.

The EcoChallenge may be already upon us, but it’s never too late to start making a difference! Join in the fun of saving our planet at any time!

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