By building trust and relationships through shared language and cultural understanding, ECOSS empowers communities of color as environmental stewards, helps local businesses become more financially and environmentally sustainable, and advances the equity of environmental solutions.
2019 saw substantial progress on environmental sustainability and equity for small businesses, immigrants, refugees and communities of color. ECOSS’ work was affirmed multiple times throughout the year, including recognition by the Port of Seattle, accolades from King County and a spotlight from Sustainable Seattle on one of our staff. Join us below in reliving the highlights of our year’s work!
Facilitating outdoor recreation firsts
Reports increasingly highlight the disparities in access to recreational opportunities across Seattle and King County. ECOSS works to address inequities in green space access through our New Arrivals program. By listening to immigrant and refugee communities in South Seattle and South King County, we tailored experiences and promoted inclusive outdoors access.
- Bhutanese refugees introduced to snowshoeing
- Connecting to home via foraging
- Lowering barriers and inspiring outdoors enthusiasts
- Promoting environmental stewardship
Promoting waste-free lifestyles
Small changes can make a significant difference if everyone is empowered to participate. The ECOSS resource conservation team engaged diverse communities at 72 tabling opportunities, presentations and community events, reaching thousands of Seattle residents. Through these events, we helped community members reduce food waste and improve awareness of recycling and composting guidelines.
We also worked closely with 28 businesses and multi-family complex managers from around King County to assist in installing energy-efficient lighting and setting up education programs around waste management. Having a staff who speak more than a dozen languages is especially helpful for business owners whose native language wasn’t English.
Managing Puget Sound’s #1 source of pollution
In the wake of Seattle’s gloomiest day on record, Puget Sound’s #1 source of pollution – stormwater – took center stage in multiple news headlines, including flooding and sewage spills. This is why addressing stormwater pollution is one of our largest outreach and education programs, featuring Green Stormwater Infrastructure (GSI) such as rain gardens and cisterns. In 2019, we:
- Engaged over 400 residents on the RainWise rebate program to install cisterns and rain gardens; 100 of these residents signed up to learn more
- Completed eight new residential GSI installations
- Recruited five Spanish, six Chinese and 3 Vietnamese contractors to install GSI, promoting their businesses while expanding access to GSI within multicultural communities
- Provided over 500 free spill kits and training to small businesses, 25% of which were multicultural or multilingual
We also launched a new initiative to promote “industrial-strength” GSI – larger installations designed for business properties with limited space. Starting with a partnership with Equinox Studios, we are showcasing innovative solutions to manage stormwater, decrease flooding and protect water quality.
Transitioning to a clean energy future
Clean energy solutions can help cut climate-warming carbon emissions in some of society’s greatest polluters – transportation and buildings. And transitioning to clean energy in a way that includes everyone will better ensure its success.
This year, we established our Clean Energy program to provide education and bridge cultural, knowledge and financial gaps to access solar panels and electrical vehicles. We’re working particularly with low-income communities and communities of color – both demographics have historically been left out of conversations around clean energy technology.
Thanks to ECOSS outreach , we’ve already walked two households from disadvantaged communities through the process of obtaining solar panels!
- Feeling gratitude for Grattix boxes
- Patagonia honors ECOSS’ environmental equity work with a grant
- PINKAPALOOZA highlights
We couldn’t do this without you
One important role of nonprofits is in bridging the gaps between government services and community needs. For ECOSS, that means addressing the language, cultural and knowledge gaps that limit immigrants, refugees, communities of color and small businesses in engaging around environmental sustainability.
Your support advances our capacity to think big about small business and community benefit. Whether that be innovative community funding frameworks, new pathways to the outdoors and more, your donation will help us deliver authentic outreach and equitable environmental solutions for all.
“My English is very limited. Not a single cleaning product available in the market is labeled in my primary language, but after this presentation I can at least recognize products labeled with Caution, Hazard, Poison, and Danger.”
The passing of a calendar year is often a time for reflection and celebration. With the recent transition into a Gregorian New Year along with Lunar New Years celebrations starting on February 5 (Chinese New Year, Tết, Seollal, Losar, Tsagaan Sar), now is the perfect time to reflect on ECOSS’ impacts for sustainable businesses and diverse communities in 2018:
But outreach and community engagement is not just about numbers. We empower sustainable businesses and communities of color to improve the lives of people. Feedback from businesses, communities and partners is critical for improving the education and services we provide.
We served over 10,000 businesses and community members in 2018. And 2019 looks to be even more impactful. New Arrivals is expanding to more communities. Waste management outreach is shifting from simply recycling and composting conversations to education around food waste reduction. And our RainWise outreach continues to grow in ambition. Look forward to the stories in 2019!
Want to learn more about the individual successes that contributed to these impacts? Check out the links below:
- Young’s Restaurant is the first Seattle restaurant to mitigate stormwater pollution
- Camping with the Bhutanese community
- Partnering with Trailhead Direct to promote outdoors access for all
- Increasing access to recycling
- Habitat restoration opportunities for diverse communities
- Green business outreach achieves new milestones
Want to help us continue this impactful outreach and education? Give a gift for sustainable businesses and diverse communities.