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2019 Biggest Carbon Loser contestants. From left: Meredith Cooper, B Merikle with their children, Will Wilson. 
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2019 Biggest Carbon Loser contestants. From left: Meredith Cooper, B Merikle with their children, Will Wilson.
Credit: KUOW

Who will be the Biggest Carbon Loser? Meet our contestants

Three contestants. Two months. One planet. A lot of carbon.

In January, three Seattle-area residents will live as they usually do: feasting on steaks, commuting comfortably in their cars, and tossing single-use plastic bottles directly into the ocean while laughing at orcas*.

But in February, our contestants will attempt to clean up their acts and shrink their carbon footprint. Whoever cuts their carbon footprint the most will win the coveted title of Biggest Carbon Loser and some fun prizes.

Why a contest for the Biggest Carbon Loser?

Each contestant will be paired with a "carbon coach" to help them plan lifestyle changes for contest victory, and also hopefully for a long term, greener way of life.

Contestant 1: Meredith Cooper

2020 Biggest Carbon Loser contestant Meredith Cooper at home in Seattle.
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2020 Biggest Carbon Loser contestant Meredith Cooper at home in Seattle.
Credit: Rick Cooper

“I have a long-standing argument with my husband about whether individual actions really make a big difference in the grand scheme of lowering our carbon footprint and protecting the environment, or whether change can only really come from big, top-down actions by government and corporations. I think that it’s a little bit of both."

Meredith Cooper lives in Seattle's Capitol Hill neighborhood, and currently works as a bartender and an apartment manager. Her unlimited and seemingly incongruous passions include: motorcycle camping, rollerskating, sharing excellent food with friends, and day dreaming about becoming a snail farmer.

She deeply enjoys opportunities to volunteer with organizations that empower young people and folks living with disabilities. She is also a mentor with Big Brothers & Big Sisters of America and as a summer counselor at Camp Parkview.

Meredith's carbon coach is Sean Watts, a consultant serving environmental and nonprofit organizations.

Contestant 2: Will Wilson

2020 Biggest Carbon Loser contestant Will Wilson.
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2020 Biggest Carbon Loser contestant Will Wilson.
Credit: Madi Eggerging

“I, myself, have always been aware of my carbon footprint, but haven’t put much thought into the daily actions I can take to reduce my emissions. If I can show my friends, peers, family, that I’m taking steps to reduce my carbon output and doing it in a fun way, maybe some of them can be more conscious of the actions they’re taking.”

Will Wilson is a recent graduate of the Foster School of Business at the University of Washington. He lives in Seattle's Ballard neighborhood and works in marketing for the Expedia Group.

Will has a passion for travel and is constantly looking for new places to view through his camera lens. In his leisure time he can be found creating extravagant meals in the kitchen or snowboarding. You can find him on social media @wilson.photo.

Will's carbon coach is Tom Watson, a King County environmental educator who previously wrote the EcoConsumer column for The Seattle Times.

Contestant 3: Bernadette “B” Merikle

2020 Biggest Carbon Loser contestant Bernadette “B” Merikle with their children, John and Julia.
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2020 Biggest Carbon Loser contestant Bernadette “B” Merikle with their children, John and Julia.
Credit: Robert Merikle, Jr.

“I have two kids who are parrots. Everything I do, they do. And while I know that my little individual contributions are not going to save the world, I also know that my little individual contributions have ripple effects.”

Our final contestant is Bernadette “B” Merikle who lives with their husband and two children in Snoqualmie. B is the Senior Director of Strategy for Racial Equity Impact at Equal Opportunity Schools, where their work focuses on increasing educational engagement for students of color.

A curious, wandering, Sagittarius sun and Virgo moon, B likes to explore their favorite phrase “how come?” with tiny humans Julia and John. You find them on Instagram @imanisasa.

B's carbon coach is Kate Waind, an environmental educator with Triangle Associates.

The Grand Prize

The grand prize package includes: a digital subscription to the New York Times; a family membership to the Burke Museum; tickets to the Seattle Art Museum; tuition for bike maintenance classes at Bike Works; and an NPR reusable tote (yes, it's the Nina Totin' bag) filled with earth-friendly public radio swag.

How to follow the Biggest Carbon Loser

We'll be sharing updates to the contest at KUOW.org/loser and through our KUOW Conversations newsletter, which you can sign up for here.

And if you're playing along at home, feel free to share photos of your efforts to go a little greener using #BiggestCarbonLoser on Twitter and Instagram.

Do you have questions about the contest? A story of your own about adventures in sustainable living? Don't hesitate to reach out to us at engage@KUOW.org.

*As far as KUOW is aware, none of our contestants have ever actually done this last item.