EcoTeams are small discussion groups of people who get together to learn about sustainability. There is usually a facilitator and perhaps a guidebook or other resource materials. The group may discuss changes we can make at the individual, local, and greater community levels. Any neighborhood, faith-based, workplace, friends or other groups can create an EcoTeam.
EcoTeams exemplify grassroots sustainability at its best. Your EcoTeam can be a supportive peer network for individual, group, and community efforts, all working toward social, economic and environmental sustainability -- for ourselves and future generations.
Most EcoTeams will meet 4-6 times over a period of two to four months, devoting each get together to a specific topic. Once you get the first meeting and location set up, the group can decide from there. Think of the concept as a book club or circle group devoted to sustainability oriented topics. The core topics we recommend are water, waste, energy, food, and transportation - critical issues for sustainability that pertain directly to your individual participants. The group may also consider larger impact sustainability issues such as climate change, population, consumption, and local resilience. Ultimately, enlightenment and behavior changes at the individual and local level can have a positive impact on the global issues we face.
You may also build in opportunities to meet other sustainability leaders, to bring in a speaker, to attend local discussion panels, workshops, or field trips in our community.
It's easy to get started. The simplest approach is to introduce the EcoTeam concept to a group that already exists and get the group's consensus. Another approach is to get a group together of interested individuals and set up a meeting date and location. The discussion leader can be the same person each time or can be rotated among members. Discussion leaders don't have to be experts, but will generally provide resource materials and keep the conversation going.
A church EcoTeam was formed as part of a Wednesday evening program, devoting one Wednesday a month to a sustainability topic and bringing in a speaker to cover each topic, with a discussion period afterward.
A neighborhood association created an EcoTeam of residents, devoting an entire year to sustainability, with each quarter involved in addressing a different topic. Activities and field trips were organized each quarter to educate and engage participants.
Other homeowners' groups selected EcoTeam topics that impacted the neighborhood as a whole, such as sustainable yard maintenance practices, outdoor water usage, traffic, front yard gardens, development intrusion, safety, invasive species removal, setting up a sharing tools process, composting, and common area clean-ups.
Several employee groups have created EcoTeams to learn about, set up, and motivate sustainable practices at work - conversion from paper files, recycling, kitchen utensils and dinnerware, coffee and water resources, carpooling, HVAC settings.
A large extended family devoted a series of family dinner get-togethers to a different sustainability topic over a span of several months. The kids were best at taking the ideas and information to their friends and schools.
- Materials You Can Use: We've included some EcoTeam specific resource materials, videos, and links HERE that you are welcome to use. Also check the Resources tab on our website.
- Speakers: Local experts are available and willing to speak to your group.
- Online Resources: Do searches for TED Talks, documentaries, articles.
- EcoTeam Guide for Leaders: Your EcoTeam can be as casual or as formally structured as you wish. For teams that desire an academically focused structure we've included a sample Leaders Guide here.