Eastside Climate Challenge making an impact on cities

Successful campaign is extended through December of 2023.

Residents of Mercer Island and its partner cities of Bellevue, Issaquah and Redmond have loudly answered the Eastside Climate Challenge call.

With robust activity of investing in the planet since the challenge began on Earth Day last April 22, the cities have extended the campaign through December of 2023, according to the city of Mercer Island.

“We have seen a steady increase in Mercer Island signups, even during the busy holiday period. There are now 102 households involved here, and another 378 across the other partner cities,” said Ross Freeman, the Island’s sustainability program analyst. Islander groups stepping on board with the challenge include the Mercer Island School District PTA, scouts, the faith community and more.

The online platform allows residents to track their carbon footprint and is aimed at reducing greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions in residents’ household activities such as transportation, heating, electricity use and waste generation, according to a previous Reporter article. The Eastside Climate Challenge cities are founding members of the King County-Cities Climate Collaboration, which has a target of reducing GHG emissions 50% by 2030.

“At the end of the day, we believe this challenge provides an onramp for local engagement in the issue of climate change and resiliency,” said Freeman, adding that the website can be customized for each participant’s needs and people can form teams to compete with others.

Last April, Mayor Salim Nice encouraged Islanders to join the challenge, “Together, we can make a difference.”

Local resident Callie Ridolfi, founder of Ridolfi Environmental and lead climate guide for the League of Women Voters-sponsored Mercer Island Climate Action Now (MI CAN) group, said the user-friendly tool has proven to be effective over the last year and she hopes it will secure permanence on the city’s agenda.

“Some of our members were the initial registrants to the challenge, and it has benefited our household in reducing our emissions by over 50% last year,” she said.

On the long-term emission-reducing front, Freeman added that lifestyle changes or choices could include installing a heat pump or purchasing an electric vehicle. He added that some enduring outreach and education programs are included in the city’s draft Climate Action Plan, which will be released soon for public comment.

For information, visit https://www.mercerisland.gov/publicworks/page/climate-challenge.