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.

Living Sustainably: Macatawa Water Festival goes virtual with creative approach

By Ashley Van Zee, ODC Network
We all live in a watershed, and this year, we can all celebrate it safely.
If you live in the Holland/Zeeland area, you live in the Macatawa watershed. A watershed is an area of land that drains into a certain stream, river, or lake. It’s like a bathtub where all the water flows towards the drain because it’s the lowest spot.
We usually celebrate our watershed in person at the Macatawa Water Festival, but this year’s event has been moved to a week-long, virtual-style celebration.
We are excited to still celebrate the Macatawa Watershed and encourage you to continue to visit, explore, and care for it. The virtual celebration is a great way to continue to lift our community and bring everyone together.
From July 11 through 17, 14 local businesses are joining in the fun by providing activities, suitable for all ages, that will be shared on social media and on the Macatawa Water Festival webpage.

Activities will range from a DIY Rain Barrel Workshop to assorted on-line video and PDF activity sheets to a scavenger hunted shared on social meeting, plus a variety of in-person but dispersed activities including kayaking, a Knee-High Naturalist program for kids and a river clean-up.

Please go to https://bit.ly/MacWaterFest2020 for more information on the virtual Macatawa Water Festival week!

Here are three reasons everyone should tune in and participate in the activities for the 2020 Macatawa Water Festival:

  1. Fourteen partners used their creativity to build an activity to promote our beloved watershed.
  2. You won’t be disappointed with the unique activities that help you recreate in, learn about, and increase awareness for the Macatawa Watershed
  3. It’s a great and free way for the whole family to unplug and get outdoors! Thank you to our sponsors: Macatawa Area Coordinating Council, Huntington Bank, Back to Health Chiropractic, Meijer, Boar’s Head Provisions, Holland Litho, Velo City Cycles, Niswander Environmental, and GoodInk.
     Ashley Van Zee is development manager at the ODC Network, a non-profit education and conservation organization with the purpose of connecting people with nature through outdoor education for the benefit of wildlife and the conservation of the natural world.

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 new virtual Macatawa Water Festival will offer a variety of online activities for kids that can be completed and shared through social media.
This year’s new Macatawa Water Festival format will include a DIY rain barrel project.
Previous years’ on-site Macatawa Water Festival featured activities like crafts with an environmental theme. This year’s festival will feature an assortment of dispersed events and activities to be shared on social media, spread over a week in mid-July.

Living Sustainably: Kids on bikes get creative this summer

By Jenny White, Velo City Cycles
Normally, this is the time of year that hundreds of West Michigan kids, ages 2 to 16, and their coaches meet up at local parks for bi-weekly Velo Kids bike rides. At these rides, Velo Kids learn and practice bike skills, bike safety, and bike trail stewardship.
Now, due to the pandemic, these group rides are not happening, but that has not stopped the kids from riding! These bike-loving kiddos are out riding and participating in the Velo Kids Summer Bike Adventure.
The Summer Bike Adventure is an eight-week challenge that encourages kids and their families to ride at different local trails, practice bike skills, and hunt for hidden bananas along the way.
Each week’s challenge sends participants to a different local trail or park and suggests specific skills to practice that are tailored to the location. It also includes clues to a secret spot where they can find hidden (plastic) bananas along the trail. Finding the hidden bananas has been a highlight for many of the kids and families.

“Many of the Velo Kids coaches have been creating challenges for each other this spring, so we combined that spirit with the weekly skill lessons that we normally cover in person to create something fun and low-stress for our Velo Kids families this summer,” said coach Martin Harris.
The Bike Adventure started on June 8 and will end on Aug. 2. It’s not too late to join. Parks and trails included are Riley Trails, Windmill Island, Pigeon Creek, Bass River, and any local-to-you areas where you can ride to get ice cream (or your family’s favorite treat). All rides are intended to be completed with family members, not in large groups.
Bike Adventure Scoresheets are available for kids to fill out as they complete the weekly rides.
Weekly write-ups are sent out with skills to practice and how-to videos, such as how to pump up a tire, how to do a track stand, practicing the rules of the road, hand signals, and more. Kids who complete four out of the eight weeks will earn their own Velo Kids water bottle!
“We love Velo Kids! Our family looks forward to the rides, and we’re excited that despite the different format, it’s still going to be a part of our summer routine,” said Anne Stolz, mom of two young Velo Kid riders.
“They have done an awesome job motivating kids and making it fun to get outside to explore the outdoors of Holland by bike. I love the emphasis on being safe and encouraging others while riding. We can’t wait to find the bananas each week.”
The Velo Kids Summer Bike Adventure is free and open to everyone. And it’s not too late to join. Visit www.velo-citycycles.com/about/velo-kids for more information.

Let’s get out and ride bikes!

 Jenny White and her husband, Brad, have been the owners of Velo City Cycles since 2013. Jenny is a Holland native. 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.

The Velo Kids project uses a scoresheet to keep track of riding, bike skills practice and secret spot discoveries.
Fun rides and learning the rules of the trail are all part of the Velo Kids team goals.
Each week’s Velo Kids adventure includes clues to a secret spot to find the plastic bananas.

Living Sustainably: Holland’s Long Recycling History Evolves Again

By Aaron Thelenwood, City of Holland

The City of Holland has a history of established best practices in recycling as evidenced by a long-standing city ordinance requiring recycling service for all residential users as well a designated single hauler to service the city’s residents – two factors which promote active recycling participation and success.

City residents are also committed to recycling, with a recycling participation rate of 53 percent, a rate that is rare across the state of Michigan, generally, and puts Holland as a leading community when compared to statistics across the U.S. Despite all of this support, from time-to-time it becomes important for the city to review its practices and ensure we’re staying on the leading edge.

Over the years, the city’s method for collecting recycling has taken several forms. Prior to 1992, the city had an open system, where residents were able to contract directly with individual haulers and opt-in or out of recycling services as they saw fit.

In May, 1992, Holland adopted a single hauler model, requiring the collection of recyclables in an 18-gallon bin, the common method at that time. In 2010, the city chose to pursue an innovative approach to recycling which aimed to streamline and simplify the city’s approach. By adopting the yellow bag system, recyclables and trash could be collected with the same truck, which, in turn, simplified collection for residents.

In 2016, however, the rumblings of major changes across recycling markets began to arise, and the city started laying the groundwork for assessing its current recycling efforts and gathering the necessary data to make informed decisions.

In 2018, through a partnership of the city, Republic Services, and the Sustainable Research Group, Holland completed its first-ever Waste Characterization Audit and shortly after formed its Materials Management Taskforce. This Taskforce built upon the data from this audit and began completing further assessments both of the program and other community approaches to recycling.

As a backdrop to all of this work, China, the world’s former largest importer of recycling materials, closed off its markets. Communities internationally as well in Michigan felt the impact immediately. The fallout from this change was plain: Materials needed to be cleaner, accepted materials in programs needed to be more targeted, and communities needed to be ready to innovate.

With the effort Holland put forth preparing for this change, the city was in a position to respond quickly. Despite the high participation rate of city residents, materials were being lost due to the deficiency in the performance of the yellow bags (75 percent ruptured or empty). This, compounded by the low levels of allowable contamination accepted by material processors (from 10 percent to less than 0.5 percent) led the Taskforce to determine the city needed to explore a new approach.

Since then, the city has decided to transition to dedicated carts for recycled materials, although an implementation date has not yet been set.
As the city is reviewing its current recycling efforts, we are also seeing major investments from the state of Michigan’s Department of Environment, Great Lakes and Energy as well as from nonprofit groups focused on expanding access to recycling and decreasing contamination.

As Holland continues to evolve its long-standing commitment to community-wide recycling, we face a market with unique challenges but also an environment in Michigan where we have access to an unprecedented level of resources and support.

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.

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.

To improve the quality of its recycled materials, Holland will shift to a dedicated cart for recyclables. A date for the transition has not yet been set.
Changes in world recyclables markets requires cleaner and better sorted materials, leading Holland to review and upgrade its long-standing and high-level community efforts.

Living Sustainably: Improving our community one rain garden at a time

By Kelly Goward, Macatawa Area Coordinating Council
The Macatawa Area Coordinating Council is working with the City of Holland and homeowners to plan and install rain gardens. Rain gardens are depressed areas that collect rain water and allow it to soak into the ground.
Rain gardens not only reduce the volume of water in storm drains but also help recharge groundwater. Rain gardens typically include deep-rooted plants, like trees, shrubs, wildflowers, or grasses, that help water move into the soil while adding beauty and providing habitat.
Another benefit of rain gardens is that they get most of the water they need from the rain, so you can conserve water by reducing irrigation. Rain gardens also trap pollutants that come from lawns and streets, like fertilizers, oil and brake dust, keeping them out of Lake Macatawa.
The City of Holland is installing rain gardens in certain city parkways. You may be aware of recent utility work undertaken by Holland Board of Public Works. Some of this work required complete removal of roadways, curbs and sidewalks. The need for new curbs and parkway landscaping provides a perfect opportunity to install rain gardens.
The city leaves openings in the curb to allow water to enter the garden from the street. If the garden fills up, then water continues down the street into the nearest catch basin and off to Lake Macatawa. The best location for parkway or curb-cut rain gardens is near the low point of the road where rain washing off the street will end up.
The MACC has funding from the Great Lakes Restoration Initiative to help the city and homeowners install parkway rain gardens over the next couple of years. Holland installed four on 19 th Street in 2019 and is planning for another five or six on 20th and 21st streets in 2020.
The MACC has been reaching out directly to eligible homeowners and working with them to design and install their rain gardens. The city provides engineering and construction of the gardens, and homeowners are responsible for plants, mulch and maintenance.
The MACC is also working with partners this summer to develop a volunteer rainscaping program.
Volunteers will learn how to assess a property and recommend ways to better manage rain water on site.
Rainscaping includes rain gardens and other practices like rain barrels, planting trees, and using native plants. Once we train volunteers, homeowners can sign up to have someone visit their property and recommend rainscaping practices.
If you are interested in rainscaping practices now, MACC staff are available to provide assistance.
Email Kelly Goward at kgoward@the-macc.org or visit our website at the-macc.org for more information about rainscaping.
 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.

Rain gardens, like this one being installed along West 19 th Street by Carolyn Ulstad and Bruce Schultz, provide multiple environmental benefits.
The Macatawa Area Coordinating Council and City of Holland are working together to encourage installation of rain gardens, like this one along West 19 th Street, to capture storm runoff, reduce irrigation needs, and recharge groundwater levels.

Hope Again Receives Stars Silver Rating for Sustainability Achievements

Hope College has again earned a STARS Silver rating in recognition of its sustainability achievements from the Association for the Advancement of Sustainability in Higher Education (AASHE).

STARS, the Sustainability Tracking, Assessment & Rating System, measures and encourages sustainability in all aspects of higher education.  Hope has held a silver rating since 2017, after previously holding a Bronze rating beginning in 2012.

Read the full press release announcement by following this link.

The ratings are at four different levels:  Bronze at 25 points, Silver at 45 points, Gold at 65 points and Platinum at 85 points.  Hope’s overall score is 57.65 points, an increase from the college’s 2017 score of 48.64.  The college’s report is publicly available on the STARS website at stars.aashe.org.
Learn more about campus sustainability at: hope.edu/sustainability