Living Sustainably: Creative recycling can help Michigan catch up

LIVING SUSTAINABLY:  Creative recycling can help Michigan catch up

By Ken Freestone,
Rising from its Earth Day beginnings in the early 1970s, the message of “reduce, reuse and recycle” has been taught to millions through brochures, advertisements, T-shirts and countless other ways. We have come a long way from those days, but we still have much work to do, with plenty of opportunities to improve our recycling rates.
There is good reason to improve those rates, too. These benefits, below, suggest that recycling is something everyone can embrace:
 Recycling creates more jobs than disposal;
 Recycling generates income;
 Recycling uses less energy than mining, harvesting, importing and otherwise processing raw materials;
 Recycling destroys less habitat; and
 Recycling creates less greenhouse gas than landfilling.
Today, Americans recycle 34 percent of the waste they create. Michigan, however, has an estimated recycling rate of just 15 percent. And, while the U.S. recycling rate has been increasing – it was a mere 6.2 percent 50 years ago – more waste is being created than ever before, too. In total, Americans
generated 254 million tons of trash in 2013 – about 4.4 pounds per person per day.
Many European countries have developed more successful recycling programs, with Austria and Germany boasting the highest recycling rates at 63 and 62 percent, respectively.
Here are some recycling numbers to know from the Michigan Department of Environmental Quality:

  • $435 million: The market value of recyclable metal, glass and plastic that Michigan households send to landfills every year.
  • 45: Number of stakeholders involved in forming Michigan’s recycling plan, including recyclers, grocers, bottlers, and landfill operators.
  • 25: Number of Michigan’s 83 counties where residents have convenient access to recycling.
  • Over 90 percent: Return rate for refundable bottles and cans in Michigan.
  • 6th lowest: Michigan’s rank in recycling of the six Great Lakes states.
  • Many more things can be recycled than we often realize. For example:
     Goodwill takes fabrics of all kinds. Even torn and ripped clothing gets bundled and sold as scrap.
     Many arts organizations can reuse giant cardboard boxes, colored paper, books, magazines, cardboard tubes, fabric, plastic jugs and bottles for art and craft projects.
     Comprenew will take almost any old electric devices for recycling at a drop-off site and resale electronics store in Holland Township.
     The Shipping Company in Holland will accept and reuse foam peanuts.
     Backyard composting is one of the easiest ways to repurpose/recycle food and yard waste.

 Ken Freestone is co-founder of He has worked on environmental stewardship, trails, greenways and land protection, as well as taught as a master composter, for more than 25 years.

Here are web resources to learn more about what and how to recycle:
 Comprehensive look at environmental solutions, including recycling.
 Ottawa County Household Hazardous Waste program guidelines, locations, links to other information.
 Michigan Recycling Coalition resources, including master recycler manual for individuals and business.
 Earth A national database for recycling.
 Company focused on hard to recycle materials offers recycling bins for more than 100 categories of materials – even items like used markers and toothbrushes.

deq rate chart.jpg . — Michigan has the goal of doubling its recycling rate, to 30 percent – still below the national average of 34 percent. Source: Michigan DEQ
Reclaimed3.jpg — This composting bin has the added benefit of being made from reclaimed wood.
Recycling containers.jpg. – Convenient containers can encourage easy recycling at home and work.

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.

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
institute for more information.

A Brighter Tomorrow: Hope College Students’ Actions and Attitudes About Sustainability

Research Project – A Brighter Tomorrow: Hope College Students’ Actions and Attitudes About Sustainability
By: Cindy Alexander and Dr. Stephen C. Scogin
Historically, colleges struggle reducing energy consumption, due in part to a lack of student fiscal accountability. Nonetheless, Hope College is committed to building a sustainable institution, and thus seeks to reduce energy consumption and promote green actions such as recycling. This mixed methods study sampled 685 students living on campus during the 2016-2017 school year. Students in three different residential locations (dorms, cottages, apartments) answered 24 Likert and open response questions about their attitudes and actions regarding energy and recycling activities and their opinions about sustainability practices. A one-way ANOVA was used to compare students’ responses regarding sustainability practices based on residential location.
Inductive qualitative analysis was used to identify the most common suggestions of how to encourage sustainability practices on campus. Results indicate: (1) The most common suggestions were to increase education through posters and flyers, increase the number and convenience of recycling receptacles, and encourage competitions to reduce consumption, (2) Students in cottages acted more sustainably, while students in dorms tended to act least sustainably, and (3) Student attitudes did not always match actions.
From these results, we conclude that further steps to achieve a more sustainable campus should aim to increase education, particularly targeting students in dorms as they are in the greatest need of an intervention and also represent the largest proportion of on campus students. In addition, providing more recycling cans in convenient locations would likely improve recycling participation. Finally, organizing competitions between on campus residents would encourage energy reducing habitats, educate students’ on their usage, and promote cognitive dissonance in students who are not acting in accordance with their attitudes about sustainable practices.

What is you summer sand dune story? Hike, bike, surf, climb, and share!! 275,000 acres of AMAZING! What do these dunes mean to you?
This online survey will provide vital information about how residents and visitors use and value our amazing freshwater coastal dunes for recreation, relaxation, scenic enjoyment, and more.
Please take a few minutes and take this survey and then share it with friends, family, and colleagues.

Survey created by Michigan Environmental Council, Hearts of the Lakes, and West Michigan Environmental Action Council.

Living Sustainably: Five Ways to Put Green into Back to School

LIVING SUSTAINABLY:  Five Ways to Put Green into Back to School
By Marissa Berghorst, Mother and Businesswoman
It’s that time of year again! Back-to- school season can be a challenge for families who have a goal of living more sustainably when the back to school list seems never ending.
Here are five ways to create a greener back-to- school season for your family.
1. Don’t create more waste. Before you hit the stores, check out what you already have around the house. Use what you have at home before you buy new. Repairs, repurposing and upgrades will usually come at a lesser cost to you and the Earth.
2. Choose non-toxic and eco-friendly school supplies. Choose PVC-free binders, crayons made in the United States and 100 percent recycled, chlorine-free notebooks.
3. Go green when packing lunches. Look for BPA, PVC and lead-free lunch containers in a variety of sizes that can replace the need for plastic or paper bags each day. Stainless steel is a great option for lunch containers. Not only will these packages cut down on waste, they will cut down on the cost of packing lunches.
4. Rethink school clothes shopping. Start your shopping trip at a local consignment shop. We have a number of great options in the Holland area. When buying new, opt for eco-friendly fabrics like organic cotton, hemp or wool, and repurposed or recycled materials.

5. Let your kids be involved in the back to school shopping. Explain to them why your family is making the product choices you are making. Bringing them into the conversation will start them on their own path of living sustainably.

 Marissa Berghorst is a mom of kids ages 5 and 7 and co-owner of ECOBUNS BABY +CO. in Holland, which specializes in eco-friendly baby and parenting products and is a 2017 recipient of the Local Motion Award from Local First of West Michigan.

Lunch containers.jpg Reusable lunch containers are a good choice to reduce both negative environmental impact and costs.

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.

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
institute for more information.

July 2017 Sustainability News

July 31, 2017 – Living Sustainably: Rain, rain go away – the right way

July 31, 2017 – Tesla’s Model 3 And The Transition To Sustainability

July 31, 2017 – Five-acre dune fire south of Grand Haven caused by campfire

July 31, 2017 – National Night Out coming to Holland

July 30, 2017 – At Herrick: The eBook advantage for summer beach reads

July 30, 2017 – Local startups continue to find success

July 29, 2017 – Why the Tesla Model 3 is a really big deal

July 29, 2017 – Cynthia M. Allen: Panhandlers near? First acknowledge their humanity

July 29, 2017 – Local man with cognitive disabilities finds job with help of Hope Network

July 29, 2017 – HOPE TURNS PURPLE

July 28, 2017 – Outdoor Discovery Center announces new solar array installation

July 28, 2017 – Holland League of Women Voters works to educate on candidates, issues

July 28, 2017 – Lack of Regulatory Burdens and Incentives Leads to Solar Growth among C&I Customers in Kenya

July 28, 2017 – Apple’s Forests Now Sustainable Enough to Cover the Paper Used in All Packaging

July 28, 2017 – Architecture Firms Fall Short of Energy Benchmarking Goals; Here’s Why

July 27, 2017 – ‘We’ll never be the same’: A hydroponic tomato garden inspired police to raid a family’s home

July 27, 2017 – Networx: Soil test and amendment guide

July 27, 2017 – In some U.S. communities, clean electricity is now the default

July 27, 2017 – States Will Need 50% Rise in Renewable Energy Use to Meet Set Standards

July 27, 2017 – Chicken of the Sea to Track Tuna from the Can Back to the Fisherman Who Caught It

July 26, 2017 – Tech Giants Increase Lobbying Spend for Renewable Energy

July 26, 2017 – More Big-Name Companies Moving Toward Renewables

July 26, 2017 – Walmart Invests in Research to Stunt Food Waste at the Source

July 26, 2017 – PepsiCo, Seeking to Close Recycling Gap, Pledges Support to Nonprofit Partnership

July 26, 2017 – Report Alleges Utility Sector Knew About CO2 Risks in 1968. Times Have Changed

July 26, 2017 – These middle-school students are taking action on climate change


July 25, 2017 – Peak Bloom Week at Windmill Island Gardens

July 25, 2017 – Climate art: More and better with time

July 25, 2017 – WHAT’S UP IN THE SKY: Take advantage of special events during eclipse

July 24, 2017 – MACC Newsletter:  Clean Air Action Days

July 24, 2017 – Living Sustainably: Get up close with the Great Lakes

July 24, 2017 – Climate change could make air travel even more miserable

July 24, 2017 – Here’s how much giving up beef helps – or doesn’t help – the planet

July 24, 2017 – Aldi Sees Competitive Advantage with Energy-Efficient Upgrades in the US

July 24, 2017 – Ottawa County Agricultural Preservation Board opens position to young residents

July 24, 2017 – Snooty the famous manatee dies in ‘heartbreaking accident’ days after his 69th birthday (video)

July 24, 2017 – Water Reuse Innovation Leads to Top-Selling Pickle Product

July 22, 2017 – West Ottawa offers summer education for students of migrant workers

July 22, 2017 – Lake Michigan temperatures up this summer, expert says

July 21, 2017 – Study: Leading CSR Rankings Lack Consistency, Transparency

July 21, 2017 – While homelessness surges in Disneyland’s shadow, Anaheim removes bus benches

July 21, 2017 – Marks & Spencer Reduces Packaging on Popular Foods

July 20, 2017 – Holland Farmers Market Chef Series to feature opening restaurant dishes

July 20, 2017 – Honorably discharged veterans will soon get to shop tax-free

July 19, 2017 – Plastic Is Everywhere And Recycling Isn’t The End Of It

July 19, 2017 – Bowerman Blueberries to provide blueberries for local pantries

July 19, 2017 – Letter: Keep fighting Saugatuck development

July 19, 2017 – Companies offer quirky perks like guitar lessons, tattoos

July 19, 2017 – 4 surprising health benefits of cherries – this summer’s superfruit

July 19, 2017 – Taking care of workers key part of sustainability

July 18, 2017 – What’s the Answer to a Sustainable Future? We Are.

July 18, 2017 – Holland Farmers Market to host kids activities

July 18, 2017 – Notre Dame Turns to Geothermal Fields to Reduce CO2

July 18, 2017 – Windmill Island Gardens to celebrate Peak Bloom Week

July 18, 2017 – Retailers Bank on Environmentally-Friendly Clothing for Increased Sales

July 18, 2017 – Leaders Unveil Their Secrets: Business Case for Environmental Stewardship

July 18, 2017 – SpartanNash to offer curbside grocery pickup

July 18, 2017 – You don’t need to go full vegan to get the vegan benefits

July 17, 2017 – Businesses May Help Fund Green Climate Fund If The US Reneges

July 17, 2017 – McDonald’s Scolded Again, This Time for Straws

July 17, 2017 – Local riders train for ride across Iowa

July 17, 2017 – Water clean after chemical spill at Lake Michigan tributary

July 17, 2017 – Retailers, brands see green for back-to-school shopping

July 17, 2017 – Adorable mouse is to blame for the spread of Lyme disease

July 16, 2017 – Living Sustainably: Standards help make spaces more healthy

July 16, 2017 – Mark Phelan: New SUVs, not cars, key to future of US automaking

July 15, 2017 – Why two black pastors are suing Coca-Cola, sugar and lots of it

July 14, 2017 – Cities Look to Business (Not Washington) to Build Sustainability

July 14, 2017 – Snyder signs $56.5 billion Michigan budget

July 14, 2017 – Biz Must Work with Gov’t for Successful, Sustainable Growth

July 14, 2017 – Holland to host Home Energy Retrofit Program meeting

July 14, 2017 – Cheaper gas, wireless plans keep U.S. inflation in check

July 14, 2017 – Coca-Cola Unveils Ambitious Sustainable Packaging Strategy

July 13, 2017 – Bill puts $300M for Great Lakes restoration

July 13, 2017 – Little Hawks Discovery Preschool

July 13, 2017 – 7-Eleven Gives Millennials What They Want: Sustainable Coffee

July 13, 2017 – Polar bears more likely to hunt humans as polar ice continues to melt

July 13, 2017 – Barbara Mezeske: We the people are an invaluable resource

July 13, 2017 – How one city is preparing for extreme heat – with trees

July 12, 2017 – Study: 350 million worldwide could experience deadly heat by 2050

July 12, 2017 – Macatawa Water Festival offers environment education

July 11, 2017 – Hope College To Host Purple Community Football Game On September 16

July 11, 2017 – Boulder boosts solar and cuts carbon pollution

July 10, 2017 – Living Sustainably: Everyone is part of a watershed – celebrate yours!

July 10, 2017 – Letter: Time to remove Straits pipeline

July 10, 2017 – Holland City Council to discuss airport millage renewal

July 10, 2017 – Greater Ottawa County United Way to host school supply drive

July 10, 2017 – Allergens and indoor air quality: 4 steps to a healthier home

July 10, 2017 – Can animals suffer from PTSD?

July 10, 2017 – Traveling to see the eclipse? Act fast

July 9, 2017 – Book Corner: Skerry helps us understand sharks

July 8, 2017 – New startup challenge combines a Silicon Valley mindset with Catholic social teachings

July 8, 2017 – Music and the Spoken Word: Moments in nature

July 6, 2017 – An inspiring green space in the concrete jungle

July 6, 2017 – Letter: Build others up instead of tearing down

July 5, 2017 – July Fourth holiday brings mixed feelings for minorities

July 4, 2017 – West Michigan celebrates Independence Day

July 3, 2017 – Living Sustainably: Lessons from Washington for local efforts

July 1, 2017 – Letter: Trump doesn’t care about normal citizens

July 1, 2017 – Holland Christian brings makers fun to Street Performers

Living Sustainably: Rain, rain go away – the right way

LIVING SUSTAINABLY:  Rain, rain go away – the right way

By Kelly Goward, Macatawa Area Coordinating Council

What happens to water when it rains? We’re glad you asked!
Rain, or stormwater, that lands on trees, shrubs, flowers, and grass is slowed down and soaks into the soil (well, most of it). However, when rain falls on roof tops, driveways, roads, and parking lots, it runs off the surface into catch basins that are connected to pipes that deliver stormwater to streams, drains or
directly to Lake Macatawa.
But stormwater is treated before it ends up in the lake, right? Unfortunately, not.
Any pollution that is on the land, like fertilizers, dirt, oil, gasoline, grass clippings, and trash, can be carried away by stormwater and end up in the lake. Catch basins trap heavier materials and floatables that the city can clean out, but they don’t catch everything. Yuck!
So, is there a better way to manage stormwater? Absolutely!

Remember what happens to rain when it lands on plants? It slows down and soaks into the ground, allowing pollution to be trapped or filtered before rain makes its way to groundwater, streams and Lake Macatawa.
Green stormwater infrastructure (GSI) is anything that mimics these natural processes of slowing, filtering and soaking rain into the ground. GSI includes rain gardens, bioswales, permeable pavement, rain barrels, and more.
So, if green stormwater infrastructure is better for Lake Macatawa, why don’t we use it more? The City of Holland and the surrounding areas are starting to use more stormwater infrastructure, but there is much more that can be done. The Macatawa Area Coordinating Council (MACC) recently received a grant from the Community Foundation of the Holland/Zeeland Area to develop a GSI vision for the Macatawa Watershed that will be completed later this fall.
The MACC is also working with local units of government to make sure policies, codes and ordinances are friendly to green stormwater infrastructure and to educate decision makers and planners about the practice.
One event that will help is coming in August. The MACC, in partnership with the City of Holland, the Ottawa County Water Resources Commissioner and the Allegan County Drain Commissioner, is hosting a green stormwater infrastructure seminar at the Haworth Inn and Conference Center, 9 a.m. to
3:30 p.m. on Aug. 22.
The seminar will focus on how the beneficial measures can be included in site designs. There will also be updates on local initiatives and discussions about the drivers and barriers to implementing these practices in our communities. This seminar is for engineers, contractors, developers, landscape architects,
water quality professionals, elected officials and decision makers, planners, conservation professionals, and anyone from throughout the West Michigan Region interested in learning more about green
stormwater infrastructure!
The seminar is eligible for 3.5 professional development hour credits for professional engineers.
Registration fees apply. Visit to find out more or to register.
 Kelly Goward has been with the Macatawa Watershed Project since August 2012, managing efforts to improve the water quality of Lake Macatawa. She has a B.S. in biology from Grand Valley State University and a master’s degree in natural resources management from Ball State University.


Smallenburg.jpg — Intentional plantings, such as this rain garden at Holland’s Smallenburg Park, hold and capture rain water so it soaks into the ground, helping limit runoff that carries pollutants into Lake Macatawa.
HPS permeable.jpg A West Michigan Green Infrastructure Conference tour studies permeable pavement at Holland High School, one method of slowing down rainwater and avoiding polluted runoff into Lake Macatawa.

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.

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
institute for more information.


Water is life. Our liquid reliance is embedded in 70% of our world’s geography and makes up 60% of our bodies, after all. Yet, nearly one billion people do not have access to safe water.

Boiled down: One in eight people worldwide cannot find clean, drinking water. 

And that’s exactly why the Hope College Engineers Without Borders (EWB-Hope) chapter traveled to Kenya in May 2017. Only 57% of Kenya’s population has sustainable access to clean water sources, according to the World Health Organization. By comparison, the United States measures 99%.

Read the full post at Stories of Hope.