For two weeks -- Friday, Oct. 14 to Friday, Oct. 28 -- Multnomah County employees participated in EcoChallenge, an international event that encourages people to try one new thing that can make a difference for themselves, the community, and the planet. Some people focused on reducing unnecessary purchases, using only reusable coffee mugs, getting more sleep, enjoying meatless meals, and spending more time outdoors.

This year 236 Multnomah County employees participated in EcoChallenge, across nine County teams, and made concrete and impactful changes in their lives. It’s clear from this impact summary and the whopping 391% increase in participation that our outcomes are something to be proud of.

After EcoChallenge, participants weighed in on their experiences. A Waste challenge participant said, “I usually throw away my banana peels and apple cores in the trash when I am not near a compost. Now I hold on to them and wait until I am I able to compost them.” This year, a Health challenge was added to the list of topics participants could focus on. One such participant said, “Started off the day with a 40-minute run, instead of staring at my phone screen.” These are just a couple of things participants observed as they made small changes to their daily routines.

In support of employees’ EcoChallenge goals,  Lunch and Learns, events, and volunteer opportunities (193.19 KB) were held in various locations throughout the County, thanks to a collaboration between the Office of Sustainability, Green Team Employee Resource Group, MultCo Volunteer Program Employee Resource Group, Office of Government RelationsWellness ProgramOffice of Diversity and EquityCity of Gresham, and Metro. Each Lunch and Learn focused on one of the following topics: environmental justice, climate change, recycling, green cleaners, reducing food waste, composting, and how to make your own worm bin. There was a great turnout of 177 employees and community members. Some even brought family members along. 

One of the most fun events, Re-pot Your Own Plants, was held on the Multnomah Building green roof. Dozens of plants and terra cotta pots were provided to participants, in addition to plants and pots donated by Health Department Director Joanne Fuller. With Fuller’s hands-on expertise and that of numerous County employees, desk plants that people brought in were repotted in new, fresh soil.

Volunteer opportunities were held on weekends and included a litter clean up in the Eliot neighborhood with SOLVE, as well as gift-wrapping barrels for area organizations that collect donations of food and clothing with SnowCap Community Charities.

The Office of Sustainability plans to keep the momentum going by encouraging staff to join the County's Green Team -- or any other employee resource group that speaks to their interests. Additional events and Lunch and Learns will continue to be offered for staff that will benefit individuals, our community, and the environment.