Living Sustainably: Put nature to work for more effective gardening

By Kelly Goward, Macatawa Area Coordinating Council
The urban environment is dominated by buildings, pavement, lawns, and other non-natural elements.
We constantly struggle against nature to maintain our built environment, especially our lawns and gardens.
This can include the use of fertilizers and pesticides that, if used improperly, can cause environmental harm. Our built landscapes can also be very water intensive, which can lead to high demand on our public water utilities.
However, there are ways to work with nature to create an attractive, low maintenance landscape that will help protect the environment, conserve water and provide places for urban wildlife.
Gardening with nature starts with careful planning. Take an inventory of what you already have.
What are your soils like? Are they dry and sandy, or wet and clayey? How much sunlight does your yard get? Are there problem areas where plants struggle to grow? These are a few questions to get you started.

Next think about what your goals and objectives are for the property. A goal is what you want to achieve, such as, “I want to create a water efficient landscape.” Objectives are what you will do and when to meet your goals, such as, “Reduce my lawn and plant a butterfly garden next spring.” It helps to write down your goals and objectives, because from there, you can outline the steps necessary to bring your goals to reality.
There are some specific things you should think about when gardening with nature. They include selecting the right plants for your soil and sunlight conditions, minimizing pesticide and fertilizer use, and conserving water.
Using native plants can help with all of these as they are adapted to local conditions, do not require fertilizers or pesticides, and should not need to be watered once established.
Also, look for alternatives to fertilizer, like compost or compost tea. Not only does compost add nutrients, but it also supports healthy soil biology, which can help plants take up nutrients and fight off disease.
Water conservation can be achieved by first selecting the right plant species, but also by adding mulch to reduce evaporation from the soil. Also, consider installing a rain barrel to capture rain water for irrigation.
The Sept. 22 Living Sustainably Along the Lakeshore Virtual Event will explore some of these ideas and more. The event will discuss gardening practices that help manage stormwater on your property as well as tips for conserving water. We will also hear about some work the City of Holland is doing to manage community stormwater.
The online program, “Gardening with Nature,” will be Tuesday, Sept. 22, from 6:30 to 8 p.m. Register at https://libcal.herrickdl.org/event/6876773.
Speakers will include Kelly Goward, environmental program manager at the Macatawa Area Coordinating Council, and Emily Damaska, conservation program specialist at the Holland Board of Public Works.
Kelly Goward is the environmental program manager at the Macatawa Area Coordinating Council. She works with the local communities to improve, restore and protect Lake Macatawa and the surrounding landscape.

This Week’s Sustainability Framework Theme
Environmental Awareness/Action: Environmental education and integrating environmental practices into our planning will change negative outcomes of the past and improve our future.

ABOUT THIS SERIES  
Living Sustainably is a collection of community voices sharing updates about local sustainability initiatives. It is presented by the Holland-Hope College Sustainability Institute, a joint project of Hope College, the City of Holland and Holland Board of Public Works. Go to www.hope.edu/sustainability-institute for more information.

Native milkweed, here in a garden by the Macatawa Area Coordinating Council office, grows naturally with little need for the gardener’s assistance.
Using the right plants, like these cardinal flowers and brown-eyed susan, can produce healthy gardens that minimize need for pesticide, fertilizer and water.
Using plants well-suited to the region, like black-eyed susan and purple coneflower, lets nature help the gardener.

Living Sustainably: Webinar to offer economists’ approach to environmental

By Regan Corum and Sarah Estelle, Hope College
Environmentalists and economists agree: Sustainability of natural resources is an important, timely issue. It’s worth our best efforts now to conserve and wisely utilize society’s scarce resources.
This Labor Day, Hope College’s Markets & Morality program is hosting a virtual event on stewardship, environmental health, and markets featuring economist Dr. P.J. Hill. Hill is a senior fellow at the Property and Environment Research Center in Bozeman, Montana, and professor emeritus of Wheaton College.
His lecture “Stewardship for Everyone: An Economist’s Proposal for Environmental Health” will consider effective strategies for reaching our environmental goals. In the process, Hill will draw on three distinct but complementary perspectives – conservation, Christian thought, and economics.
Economics is, at its core, a science of resource allocation. The economist’s toolkit is designed to consider competing uses of society’s limited resources. Basic economic principles, therefore, readily apply to issues of environmental degradation in ways that account for the full cost of natural and environmental resources.
Hill is likely to discuss the relative strengths and weakness of private initiative, market mechanisms, and government regulation, both in theory and as born out in practice. Environmental economists have had notable success in facilitating resource conservation with practices and institutional structures that are “incentive compatible.”
Put simply, people have greater incentives to conserve what they have a stake in. These stakes should be protected by a rule of law characterized by broadly held and legally enforceable property rights.
Recent examples of the success of property rights can be found in emissions trading, riparian water rights, fishing and aquaculture, and megafauna conservation.
What is especially promising about the economic way of thinking as applied to the environment is that it only complements stewardship efforts motivated by otherwise sincerely held environmental concern. By focusing on and implementing effective strategies for resource conservation and environmental sustainability, economists provide a practical toolset of value to environmentalists of all stripes.
Community members from Holland and beyond are invited to the online event, cosponsored by Hope’s Department of Economics and Business, Hope College Green Team, and the Acton Institute. Hill’s lecture will begin at 7 p.m. on Monday, Sept. 7 and will be followed by time for audience questions.
For more information on this public lecture event as well as a link to register for free online access, visit the Hope College’s calendar at https://calendar.hope.edu/event/stewardship_for_everyone_with_dr_pj_hill or email
marketsandmorality@hope.edu
.

 Regan Corum is a junior business and economics major at Hope College where she is a member of Markets & Morality. She attended the selective PERC Student Summit in 2020. Sarah Estelle is the director of Markets & Morality and associate professor of economics at Hope College.

This Week’s Sustainability Framework Theme
Economic Development: Businesses and the local consumers are driving engines that generate capital for growth and development. We want to be a location of choice for new business and industry.

ABOUT THIS SERIES  
Living Sustainably is a collection of community voices sharing updates about local sustainability initiatives. It is presented by the Holland-Hope College Sustainability Institute, a joint project of Hope College, the City of Holland and Holland Board of Public Works. Go to www.hope.edu/sustainability-institute for more information.

Dr. P.J. Hill, senior fellow at the Property and Environment Research Center in Bozeman, Montana, talks about economics and environmentalism when on campus in this 2017 photo.
The Hope College Markets & Morality series presents a webinar on an economic approach to environmentalism.

Living Sustainably: Child’s words clarify career goal

By Mia Lindberg, Ready for School
They say sometimes you just need to talk to a 4-year-old to understand life. For me, this could not be more true. I chose my career path of public health over lunch with a 4-year-old.
My relationship with Ready for School began as a volunteer the summer before my senior year in high school. We worked each day addressing gaps in access to nutrition and early learning opportunities.
My specific contribution was working at a Meet Up and Eat Up site.
Traditionally, these federally funded Summer Food Service Programs give daily meals to children in areas of greatest need. In Holland, we decided to build upon this existing program. Ready for School led a community collaborative incorporating reading and educational activities to fuel children with both food and a love of literacy.
That’s the summer when I had that eye-opening conversation with a 4-year-old. Sitting on striped beach towels laid out in the grass, I joined a group of children taking turns reading to each other. With a grin on her face and nachos in her hand, one young girl turned to me and explained why this was the best part of her day. Between bites, she told me she loved coming since her mother could not feed her at home.
Even now, I feel the weight of that statement.
Growing up in Holland is a very different experience for each child depending on many circumstances far beyond his or her control. I have been blessed to receive adequate nutrition, healthcare, learning materials, and guidance on how to take advantage of the resources in our community.
However, this isn’t true for every child growing up in Ottawa County. I learned at Ready for School how, “Potential is evenly distributed across a population. Opportunity is not.”
Ready for School taught me that high-quality early education sets the course of a child’s life and benefits the community as a whole. This realization led me to pursue a degree in public health to gain the knowledge and skills needed to address similar situations.
Distinguishing kindergarten readiness as a public health necessity unifies multiple sectors to rally around families with young children. Working with the medical, educational, public health, and business communities, Ready for School provides scholarships, a summer kindergarten readiness boot camp, books and learning materials, professional development for early childhood educators, and more.
These combined efforts have increased the measure of school readiness from 49 percent in 2009 to 70 percent in 2019. Yet, 30 percent of our incoming kindergarteners are still in danger of not reaching their full potential.
Three years later, I am back with Ready for School as a summer intern preparing for my junior year at the University of Michigan’s School of Public Health. I am so grateful to live in a community where our youngest members are valued and supported.
Using my degree in public health, I will follow the lead of Ready for School and its mission to help create systems in which everyone has the opportunity to reach their full potential. I will be forever changed by my time serving nachos with a side of literacy.

 Mia Lindberg is a junior at the University of Michigan studying Community and Global Public Health. She grew up in Holland and has enjoyed giving back to her community this summer as a research intern at Ready for School.

This Week’s Sustainability Framework Theme
Community Knowledge: The collective knowledge and energy of the community is an
incredible resource that must be channeled to where it is needed.

ABOUT THIS SERIES  
Living Sustainably is a collection of community voices sharing updates about local sustainability initiatives. It is presented by the Holland-Hope College Sustainability Institute, a joint project of Hope College, the City of Holland and Holland Board of Public Works. Go to www.hope.edu/sustainability-institute for more information.

By volunteering and interning with Ready for School, Mia Lindberg discovered her career calling in public health. She has learned the positive impact of early childhood education on a child’s future. Mia helped as Ready for School led a community collaborative incorporating reading and educational activities to fuel children with both food and a love of literacy.

Living Sustainably: Value calculation improves for electric vehicles

By Barry Rutherford, Holland Board of Public Works
We all like to get value out of our hard-earned dollars. Whether we are buying groceries or data plans for our phones, or even determining whether to buy a daily or annual pass to a park, we are constantly calculating the best value.
Value calculations can change over time, and we are not always aware of the impact of those changes. When electric cars were introduced, the cost was high, the mobility was limited, and the convenience was limited. Now, however, those values have changed.
Let’s compare today’s electric car to a gas car powered by an internal combustion engine (ICE).
Cars and trucks powered by the ICE have been the workhorses of the transportation industry for a century. The ICE got us off the horse and buggy, and it serves our transportation needs well as we drive about.
The ICE, however, has a big drawback. Vehicles with the ICE are about 20 percent efficient, meaning that only 20 percent of the fuel actually goes to power the engine. The rest, or 80 percent, is burned up as heat. It does not help move your car down the road. What happens to that 80 percent? So much heat is made that cars need cooling systems (radiator) to remove the heat. Most us have seen a car on the side of the road with steam coming up from under the hood from a failed cooling system.
Until recently, there haven’t been any viable options to the ICE. Today’s electric vehicle’s (EV) motors are about 80 percent efficient, a huge improvement over an ICE. EV motors are more efficient because there are fewer moving parts with less friction giving off heat. This also means less maintenance because of fewer parts and no cooling system to break down.
In addition to the mechanical advantages, the price of electricity to fuel an EV is cheaper than gasoline to fuel an ICE. According to energy.gov, the average price of a gallon of gas in Michigan is $2.09 and the equivalent for electricity, the eGallon, is $1.47. It should be noted that electricity prices do not fluctuate like gas prices do, depending on global politics. When gas prices were over $4 per gallon, electricity prices barely moved.
Changing from an ICE-powered vehicle to EV supports the vision of the 40-year Holland Community Energy Plan, which envisions that 7 percent of our local transportation fleet will be EV by the year 2050.To encourage residents to adopt EVs, Holland Board of Public Works offers a $300 rebate for a home charger and a discounted rate for charging your EV at night and weekends.
In summary, the value of an EV over an ICE are: They are cheaper to fuel, they are cheaper to maintain, and they are more convenient to fuel (you can charge an EV at home). EV prices keep coming down and more models are becoming available every year.
Go to https://hollandbpw.com/en/electric-vehicles for more information about EV, rebates for EV chargers, and discounted rates for EV charging. Also, look for Holland BPW’s new Facebook group dedicated to all things EV.
 Barry Rutherford is Holland BPW’s energy efficiency engineer. He develops customer education and energy savings programs.

This Week’s Sustainability Framework Theme
Transportation: The movement of people, goods, and services within the area is an evolving system that links us to our regional, national and global networks.

ABOUT THIS SERIES  
Living Sustainably is a collection of community voices sharing updates about local sustainability initiatives. It is presented by the Holland-Hope College Sustainability Institute, a joint project of Hope College, the City of Holland and Holland Board of Public Works. Go to www.hope.edu/sustainability-institute for more information.

Better technology and more choices have improved the value of electric vehicles, such as this one operated by the Holland Board of Public Works.

Living Sustainably: Online Census count saves resources, benefits our community

By Esther Fifelski, City of Holland
The Constitution requires that every person residing in the United States and U.S. territories be counted every 10 years though a Census.
The data derived from the Census determines how billions of tax dollars are distributed to states, cities, and local organizations and individuals. Michigan also uses the data to distribute sales tax revenue to communities. More importantly, the population numbers determine the number of representatives our state has in Congress and is used to set congressional and state legislative districts.

Why participate? The Census impacts every person, every day.
Locally, Census numbers direct dollars toward roads, schools, healthcare, and many other areas.
Businesses use local demographic information to make the best decisions for their companies. The data help determine location, market size, and other demographic information to put them in the best spot to succeed. Developers use the data to determine housing and economic development needs. Employers use Census data to look at the local talent base.
Census figures even impact grants that fund everything from critical research to special initiatives serving the most vulnerable populations.
We take for granted the many services available in our community for residents, from the moment we rise in the morning to the moment we go to bed. Throughout our life, we benefit from Census data dollars. If you are interested in learning more about Census dollars, visit George Washington University’s Institute for Public Policy site that has an abundance of information.
Because it is used in so many ways, a complete Census count is important. As of Aug 3, the national participation rate was 63 percent. Michigan’s self-response rate was 68.8 percent, and Allegan and Ottawa county’s rates are 70.5 and 77.2 percent, respectively.
And the City of Holland’s participation rate was 74.6 percent – a higher level than the national and state counts; Holland is competitive! We understand the reality of what these dollars mean for our community.
In that competitive spirit, I challenge Holland city residents to have a 100 percent participation rate. Now more than ever, we need to be counted!
Census workers will start knocking on doors of those who have not responded in mid-August through Sept. 30. Remember, the Census will never ask for a Social Security number, bank or credit card numbers, or anything related to politics, and it will never collect money. While statistical data is shared, such as the number of people in a town, each individual’s response is confidential for 72 years.
Today, we have the luxury of speed, efficiency, and a more sustainable practice in doing the Census.
This year all residents in the United States and U.S. territories can submit their Census online or by phone. I encourage on-line participation, which creates less waste and reduces the impact on forests, energy use, climate change emissions, and air and other pollution.
To avoid knocks on your doors, save taxpayer dollars, and promote sustainable practices, complete the Census on-line at https://2020census.gov/en/ways-to-respond.html.
 Esther Fifelski is human relations director for the City of Holland with responsibilities including the city Human Relations Commission, International Relations Commission, and youth services.

ABOUT THIS SERIES  
Living Sustainably is a collection of community voices sharing updates about local sustainability initiatives. It is presented by the Holland-Hope College Sustainability Institute, a joint project of Hope College, the City of Holland and Holland Board of Public Works. Go to www.hope.edu/sustainability-institute for more information.

This Week’s Sustainability Framework Theme
Community & Neighborhood: The places we live and the individuals we interact with support the development of our personalities and perspectives on life. Encouraging vital and effective communities is essential.

A high response rate online saves time as well as resources such as paper and fuel needed for in-person visits.
Residents can use a tablet, phone, home computer or library computer to respond to the Census in minutes.
Census takers will start going door-to-door this month to addresses that haven’t responded online. The Census will never ask for a Social Security number, bank or credit card numbers, or anything related to politics, and it will never collect money.

Living Sustainably: Germany offers ideas for sustainable redevelopment

By Eric Schumann ’21, Hope College Office of Sustainability
Every global recession results in an economic restart. Governments flood stimulus packages to citizens to ensure some economic activity, but typically without regard for environmental consequences.
Our post-coronavirus economic recovery offers an opportunity to address environmental sustainability, especially with regard to the challenges posed by our changing climate.
But how should we make the proper sustainable changes after this recession? We can learn much by looking at the substantial actions some communities have already taken in their infrastructure, culture, and daily lives.
One example could be the “Green City” of Germany, Freiburg in Breisgau. I studied there in the fall of 2019. Many cities in Germany have modeled their policies and practices after Freiburg. Here are some examples of sustainable practices well established in Germany:

Fahrradstraßen (“Bike Streets”) To make transportation more convenient for bicyclists, Freiburg includes bike streets in its infrastructure. These streets give citizens the most direct mode of transportation throughout the city, with paths along rivers, through tunnels, and on bridges over train tracks.
Rieselfeld (“Leach Field,” a new City District in Freiburg) This city district was built on land that had originally been irrigated with sewage water. The top soil was stripped and then the construction of the district began. All the buildings were designed to be low-energy houses, with the opportunity to become even more energy efficient.
The district also adopted a heterogeneous social structure, meaning that higher- and lower-income residents were not separated into different areas or buildings. Last, a tram line was built to extend sustainable transportation to the new district. Rieselfeld is a model for how new residential developments can be constructed.
Der Waldhaus , Freiburg im Schwarzwald (The Forest House, Freiburg in the Black Forest) This institution is a center for sustainable forestry: Sustainably felling trees, educating the public about felling, and providing employment opportunities related to felling, hunting, instructing workshops, and helping run the Waldhaus.
For every tree cut down, two trees are planted, with an eye to maintaining a high variety of trees in the forest. Much of the wood from this forest is used by Freiburg and other neighboring cities. 
Ein Experiment der Nachhaltigkeit auf Berlins Straßen (An Experiment of Sustainability on Berlin’s Streets) Although I lived in Freiburg for the semester, I was able to visit a lot of other cities in Germany, including Berlin. This large city has made many sustainable improvements.
They include facilitating an increasing number of bicyclists (eventually passing Freiburg to be the largest bike city in the country) with improvements like placing green circle designs on crosswalks and intersections with bike paths and by making wooden leisure areas and bike racks where cars previously parked. 
 Eric Schumann is a rising senior at Hope College, majoring in business and German and minoring in biology. This summer he is an intern for Hope’s Office of Sustainability and in the fall, he will be one of 10 Hope Advocates for Sustainability Interns.

This Week’s Sustainability Framework Theme
Environmental Awareness/Action: Environmental education and integrating environmental practices into our planning will change negative outcomes of the past and improve our future.

ABOUT THIS SERIES  
Living Sustainably is a collection of community voices sharing updates about local sustainability initiatives. It is presented by the Holland-Hope College Sustainability Institute, a joint project of Hope College, the City of Holland and Holland Board of Public Works. Go to www.hope.edu/sustainability-institute for more information.

Berlin supports bicyclists with measures like green circle designs on crosswalks and intersections with bike paths and by making wooden leisure areas and bike racks.
The efficient housing developing in a former leach field area in Freiburg is a model for how new residential developments can be constructed.
The Forest House near Freiburg in the Black Forest educates about and demonstrates sustainable forestry.
Bike streets in Freiburg give residents the most direct mode of transportation throughout the city along rivers, through tunnels, and on bridges over train tracks.

Living Sustainably: Smart clothes shopping has big impact

By Elizabeth Merrit ’20, Hope College Green Team
What you spend your money on says a lot about what you value. Yet, many people do not think of their purchases in this way, especially when it comes to apparel. Although there are some very conscientious companies, many supply chains trace back to unethical practices, human trafficking, and environmentally harmful production processes.
The way we produce our clothing can be very harmful to the earth and to other human beings. In an effort to fully understand the weight of this, we first need to understand the terms associated with the making of clothing. 
“Fair trade” means that the current seller is the original buyer who purchased goods from a producer, usually in a developing country, at a fair living wage. The goal of fair trade is to focus on income stability, empowerment for the producers, and environmental stewardship.
For example, The Bridge, a store located on Eighth Street in Holland, is dedicated to fair trade. An outreach of Western Theological Seminary, The Bridge strives “to provide clothing that is fair trade and sustainably made.” Suppliers provide information about the materials and processes used in producing the clothing and also the artisans who make the fashions.
As Sara Schipper Russell,, manager at The Bridge puts it: “One of my favorite quotes about fashion comes from Vivienne Westwood: ‘Buy less, choose well, make it last.’ ” 

“Sustainable” means maintaining and preserving natural resources now so these resources are available in the future. When apparel is made sustainably, it is not done with harmful chemicals but instead focuses on renewable, clean, water-conserving methods.
“Ethical” is an umbrella term covering issues of fair trade, humane working conditions, sustainability, exploitation, and labor trafficking. Ethically-made clothing is produced by companies that aim to mitigate issues among clothing production, so they are especially conscious of who makes them and how. 
“Conscious fashion” is another catch-all phrase that encompasses eco-friendly and sustainable efforts. This is a common term used by companies that are greenwashing. 
“Greenwashing” describes a company that claims to be sustainable or environmentally friendly, but further investigation reveals this is false or exaggerated. 
The “transparency label” exists so that we can ask questions of large corporations and their extensive supply chains. Don’t be mistaken, though – transparency does not mean the same as ethical or sustainable. Transparency metrics are used more in addressing factory conditions and exploitation. This should not be where you stop your research.
“Cruelty-free” means that no animals were harmed in the creation or testing of the product. 
“Organic” means that the clothing was made from only natural fibers that were produced without the use of highly toxic chemicals.
“Slow fashion” means that instead of focusing on 52 clothing seasons a year, like fast fashion does, it focuses on classic pieces that aren’t trendy. 
The clothing industry alone accounts for 10 percent of annual global carbon emissions. This is more than the carbon emissions emitted each year from both international flights and shipping combined.
Beyond this, it is estimated that around the world only 2 percent of fashion workers make more than a living wage. The startling statistics go on and on for the fashion worker industry.
Knowing these terms will help you research who and what goes into the production of your clothing.
Start giving your business to companies that support values important to you and missions that you align with, such as safe factories, responsible environmental stewardship, and ethical practices.
 Elizabeth Merrit is a senior at Hope College, graduating in December of 2020. Elizabeth has worked with the Hope College Green Team since August of 2019. This summer she is conducting marketing research and content creation for the Office of Sustainability.

This Week’s Sustainability Framework Theme
Environmental Awareness/Action: Environmental education and integrating environmental practices into our planning will change negative outcomes of the past and improve our future.

ABOUT THIS SERIES  
Living Sustainably is a collection of community voices sharing updates about local sustainability initiatives. It is presented by the Holland-Hope College Sustainability Institute, a joint project of Hope College, the City of Holland and Holland Board of Public Works. Go to www.hope.edu/sustainability-institute for more information.

Smart shopping is an essential sustainability practice because the clothing industry accounts for 10 percent of annual global carbon emissions, more than the carbon emissions emitted each year from both international flights and shipping combined. Photo Credit: Elizabeth Merrit

Living Sustainably: This year’s Ice Cream Bike Ride is do-it-yourself

By Jenny White, Velo Kids
I scream, you scream we all scream for … a bike ride! Ok, ok, we can’t forget about the ice cream, too – evveryone’s favorite part.
For the last six years Velo City Cycles, Velo Kids, Hudsonville Creamery, and the Holland Police Department have partnered in hosting a community Ice Cream Bike Ride around downtown Holland. The ride historically starts at Velo City Cycles and is led by members of the Holland Police Department and Velo Kids coaches. Cyclists of all ages ride around Windmill Island and back to the bike shop where everyone enjoys free ice cream.
We were uncertain how and if we could possibly hold a bike ride with the current COVID conditions, but are so excited that, yes, there will be a DIY (do-it-yourself) Ice Cream Bike ride on Wednesday, July 22.

Instead of riding together as a big group, we are encouraging cyclists to do their own bike ride around Holland. While out on your ride, stop by Moran Park (515 Maple Ave., Holland) anytime between 6:30 and 8 p.m. on July 22 for free ice cream, thanks to the Holland Police Department Polar Patrol.
All ages, all speeds and all styles and brands of bikes are welcome to ride. There will be a bike obstacle course for kids to practice their cycling skills. Velo Kids coaches will be handing out bike safety booklets to all young cyclists. Helmets and closed-toed shoes are recommended.
“I have been able to participate with the Ice Cream Bike Rides for the past couple years now,” said Holland Police Officer Adam Sokolove. “The ability to connect with people and promote law enforcement on a different level and show the community that we are human beings also has always been a benefit to these rides.
“To see the love for exercise and bike riding along with fellowship at the same time is what makes these Ice Cream Rides necessary regardless of the situation. Being able to still do the ride and be mindful of social distance guidelines adds another small sense of normalcy in today’s time.”
Social distancing will be practiced at the park, and all coaches and volunteers will be wearing masks.
It has been incredible to see how cycling has emerged to a new level during the pandemic, nationwide and also here in Holland. You have probably noticed the increased number of cyclists. We encourage you to explore your local roads, paths and parks by bike.
“Beyond owning a bicycle, the next most important factor to feeling comfortable with commuting by bike is gaining first-hand experience on your local roads, bike paths and trails,” said Martin Harris, a Velo Kids coach. “Exploring casually with your family is a great way to get that familiarity and have fun at the same time!”

Dig out those bikes from your garage and let’s ride and eat some ice cream!

 If you’re looking for a good route around downtown Holland, this seven-mile route highlights Kollen Park, Windmill Island and many of the bike lanes around town:
https://ridewithgps.com/routes/33383664
 The City of Holland bike network can be found here: https://www.cityofholland.com/227/Maps-Resources
 The Macatawa Area Coordinating Council non-motorized transport infrastructure is also a great resource: http://www.the-macc.org/transportation/nonmotorized/
 Or discover off-road trails in Ottawa County Parks: https://www.miottawa.org/Parks/recreation.htm#bike

 Jenny White and her husband, Brad, have been the owners of Velo City Cycles since 2013. She, along with other kid-loving, bicycle-riding friends started Velo Kids in 2017. Jenny and Brad have three kids, who also now love riding their bikes.

This Week’s Sustainability Framework Theme
Transportation: The movement of people, goods, and services within the area is an evolving system that links us to our regional, national and global networks.

ABOUT THIS SERIES  
Living Sustainably is a collection of community voices sharing updates about local sustainability initiatives. It is presented by the Holland-Hope College Sustainability Institute, a joint project of Hope College, the City of Holland and Holland Board of Public Works. Go to www.hope.edu/sustainability-institute for more information.

Holland Police officers will hand out ice cream as in years past, but at Moran Park this year, where family do-it-yourself tours should be sure to stop. Photo courtesy Rob Walcott
Previous year’s Ice Cream Bike Rides have seen large groups touring downtown. This year, families are asked to do their own tours individually. Photo courtesy Rob Walcott
Ice cream is always a hit with the younger set, who also learn bike safety and can ride an obstacle course to learn skills on the Ice Cream Bike Ride. Photo courtesy Rob Walcott

Living Sustainably: Energy efficiency and healthy environments create better living

By Ken Freestone, Holland Residential Energy Advisor
Do you know if your home is healthy, safe and energy efficient? During times of isolation in our homes – like the COVID-19 pandemic – we may encounter negative environmental conditions that we didn’t realize prior to being in our homes for extended periods.

With health safety precautions well engrained in daily lives, what changes have you made in your home to make it healthier? What conditions either improved or declined? Have you evaluated energy usage? Have you received a free Home Energy Audit through the City of Holland? Besides identifying energy inefficiencies, home audits also investigate health, safety and comfort.
The Home Energy Retrofit program and other city programs help residents of Holland with resources to pursue healthier, safer and more efficient homes.
The Holland Home Energy Retrofit program is going into its fifth year. The amount of work accomplished, the great improvements made, and the investment in energy efficiency has all been incredible.
In four years, investments of approximately $4.05 million have been made by owners of about 250 homes. That has led to savings of approximately 25 percent in utility costs and about a 35 percent reduction in home leakiness. The Holland Energy Fund has provided $496,000 in grants to homeowners for energy upgrades and retrofits. It’s also an investment in local jobs for contractors, healthier homes, energy savings, and financial savings for homeowners.
Improvements have included, in order of energy-saving importance: Air-sealing leaks and cracks; insulation of attics, basements and walls; appliance replacements; HVAC upgrades; and windows and doors. Also, critical measures have improved ventilation, replacement of knob and tube wiring, and mitigation of mold, asbestos and lead.
Now, COVID-19 stay-home guidance has added a new emphasis on home energy efficiency, health and safety. Did you find spaces in your home that were too cold in the spring or too hot now? Or experience high humidity, poor ventilation, or high costs of gas and electric utilities? The Home Energy Retrofit Program can help homeowners address these issues.
Here are a couple of reactions from homeowners in the program:
 “My two-story home is practically the same temperature on each floor. In past years, we had window AC units running all summer to keep the upstairs comfortable. Now our new AC unit keeps the whole house comfortable and uses 25 percent less electricity.” – PW, Holland Heights.
 “Thanks to super air-sealing our basement and replacing leaky, inefficient basement windows with glass block windows, our dehumidifier gets emptied every three days. Before the retrofit we used to empty it 2 times per day.” – WF, Holland Heights.
Here are some of the resources available to homeowners as well as landlords with up to four-unit buildings: Free home energy audits through the city’s certified contractors; low interest loan options for qualified homeowners; grants toward energy efficiency upgrades; HUD funds for income qualified households; rebates from Holland BPW and SEMCO; and free no-obligation advice from the residential energy advisor and community development specialist.
Finally, here are some things a homeowner can do:
 Visit the city’s Home Energy Retrofit page for a home self-assessment guide and list of questions to get a baseline of efficiency.
 Consider scheduling a free Home Energy Assessment from one of three certified contractors.
 Contact the residential energy advisor at 355-1364 to discuss available resources and get answers about the health, safety, comfort, and efficiency of your home. Virtual and in-person meetings are available.
 Watch for videos coming soon on the city website about DIY projects for homeowners.
These projects will help homeowners understand the whole house as a system and help address reasonably easy projects that have significant impacts.
 Contact your utility provider to see what resources are available to every customer, such
as rebates, SEMCO Bonus Rebates, giveaways of energy conservation products (lightbulbs, water saving devices, etc.), appliance recycling, and energy tips.

The well-being of your family and your resources are critical. Starting at home is a good way to help your family be safe, comfortable, energy efficient, and healthy while increasing the value of your home investment.

2020 Efficiency Tips

City of Holland Homeowner Checklist

 Ken Freestone is the residential energy advisor for the City of Holland’s Home Energy Retrofit program.

This Week’s Sustainability Framework Theme
Smart Energy: We need to use both conservation and efficiency to manage our energy resources smartly.

ABOUT THIS SERIES  
Living Sustainably is a collection of community voices sharing updates about local sustainability initiatives. It is presented by the Holland-Hope College Sustainability Institute, a joint project of Hope College, the City of Holland and Holland Board of Public Works. Go to www.hope.edu/sustainability-institute for more information.

Sealing air gaps is one of the simplest and most effective home energy saving practices.
Switching to LED light bulbs is one of the easiest ways to cut electric use and cost.
The Conservation Pyramid visibly shows the order in which steps can be taken, from simplest and most effective at the bottom on up.

Living Sustainably: You can join in to help the Macatawa River

By Dan Callam, ODC Network
It’s time to join in the community cleanup of the Macatawa River.
Register online to join in the fun and necessary cleanup this coming Saturday, July 11, from 10 a.m. to noon at Dunton Park, 290 Howard Ave., Holland.
The annual event is a collaboration of the ODC Network and the Macatawa Area Coordinating Council. Here are five good reasons you might want to be at the 2020 River Cleanup:

  1. Feel accomplishment after a beautiful morning working riverside or in a kayak helping to clean the Macatawa River.
  2. It’s a great and free way for the whole family to unplug and get outdoors!
  3. You never know what you’re going to find. Tractor tire? Soccer ball? Back seat of a station wagon? They’ve been found before!
  4. Want to try kayaking, or just want to walk along the waterfront? You can do either!
  5. Need some hours for community service for your school or club? Get them here!

Depending on the group size, there may be a crew on the shores of the lake and another in kayaks in the lake. Anyone under 16 years old must be with an adult. All boats, paddles and life vests will be provided. Meet at the lower parking lot near the boat launch.
Registration required for event at this link, or find more information at outdoordiscovery.org/calendar. Also, to ensure safety of all participants, a health screening form will be required to be filled out before participating in the program.
The Macatawa Area Coordinating Council and the ODC Network are organizing the event. The MACC is established as an Inter-Municipality Study Committee under Michigan law. It addresses significant area-wide issues like the Macatawa Watershed Project.
The Macatawa Watershed Project works to improve water quality in Lake Macatawa and its many tributaries by increasing awareness of water quality issues and implementing practices that reduce stormwater runoff and minimize soil erosion.
The ODC Network is non-profit education and conservation organization that was founded in 2000 with the purpose of connecting people with nature through outdoor education for the benefit of wildlife and the conservation of the natural world.
 Dan Callam is the Greenway Manager at the ODC Network.

This Week’s Sustainability Framework Theme
Environmental Awareness/Action: Environmental education and integrating environmental practices into our planning will change negative outcomes of the past and improve our future.

ABOUT THIS SERIES  
Living Sustainably is a collection of community voices sharing updates about local sustainability initiatives. It is presented by the Holland-Hope College Sustainability Institute, a joint project of Hope College, the City of Holland and Holland Board of Public Works. Go to www.hope.edu/sustainability-institute for more information.

The annual Macatawa River Cleanup is a chance to make a difference in our community.
The annual Macatawa River Cleanup provides a good opportunity for cooperation and a good time, while helping the community.