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Commuter Challenge

Sustainable Spring

Springtime at EPI's Swift Center office in Missoula, Montana very well may have the winter holiday season beat in terms of being the most wonderful time of the year. In the spring, our staff emerge from the throws of hibernation and re-enter a vibrant community speckled in all shades of green. The north side of our building borders the Clark Fork river, bursting at the banks with freshly melted, frigid Rocky Mountain snowpack. The southside shades a tiny, mighty creek, hosting a mother duck and her fuzzy yellow fleet. On the east side, you'll find a grassy park, full of canines and humans alike, chasing frisbees until the sun goes down. The westside shelters our staff bike rack, which gets more use now than ever.

At EPI, most of us fondly associate this time of the year with Missoula in Motion's annual Commuter Challenge. The Commuter Challenge is a competition between +70 workplaces in town to encourage as much sustainable commuting as possible over a two-week timeframe. The eligible modes of sustainable transportation include biking, walking, rollerblading, skateboarding, riding the bus, carpooling, telecommuting, and more!

How the Commuter Challenge Works

Participants can easily log commutes online and via mobile app. By doing so, commuters receive daily stats on how they stack up in the competition, how much money they've saved, how many pounds of CO2 they've reduced, and even how many calories they've burned by choosing to sustainably commute. Missoula in Motion holds a daily raffle for participating commuters, offering $50 gift cards to favorite local restaurants and shops! Bigger prizes and awards are given out at the end of the competition. Some winning categories include Best Team Photo, Best Social Media Presence, and "Most Into It."

Last year, our team proudly accepted an ice cream party for being Most Into It.

EPI's Commuter Challenge Engagement

With the esteemed distinction of Most Into It, our team captains are clearly doing something right to motivate the people. Tyler and Alexei, our valiant co-captains, helped organize multiple internal competitions to increase staff involvement and keep sustainable commuting at the forefront of folks' minds.

The additional internal activities include our own daily cupcake raffle, group Bike to Work days, and a poker card challenge. It is thanks to our captains stepping it up with the added commuting incentives that EPI won an ice cream party!

"We talk a lot about having a positive impact and changing behavior on our students and teachers on course, and I think we have to stay true to that as an organization. Sustainably commuting is a big deal for EPI-one of our core values is to solve environmental problems, not contribute to them," said Tyler, one of our Field Experience Coordinators.

Commuting and Connecting Community

As much of a hoot as it is to be awarded a cupcake for rollerblading to the office, the power of the Commuter Challenge reaches beyond the good times and reduced carbon emissions.

"I think the Commuter Challenge is so cool, because it brings people together while putting us head-to-head in a competition about sustainability. It makes us aware of other organizations in town working together toward a shared goal. The Challenge points to the fact that we have poor air quality, traffic, and congestion in Missoula. Our population is growing, driving is getting more challenging, and it's so much nicer to have a bike ride!"

Perhaps the best part of the Commuter Challenge isn't winning awards, eating free ice cream, or saving gas money, but enjoying the commute itself. That's the case for me, at least. To be able to safely get to work by way of riverside bike-path is a privilege I do not take for granted and feel exceptionally grateful for every day. I'd be a couple dozen great blue heron, bald eagle, and osprey sightings short if it weren't for the ol' morning commute.

Interested in exploring sustainable commute options in your community?

  • Download your local bus schedule.

  • Find a coworker you can share a ride with.

  • Consider using your body as a mode of transportation, if you're able.

  • Ask about your organization's telecommuting options.

Whatever mode of transportation fits your needs, wherever you are, we hope reducing vehicles and carbon emissions are factors in your decision-making process.

Happy commuting!


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