LIVING SUSTAINABLY: Six Ways to Raise a Sustainable Family in Holland

LIVING SUSTAINABLY:  Six Ways to Raise a Sustainable Family in Holland

By Marissa Berghorst, Mother and Businesswoman

Raising a sustainable family is easier than you might think. While there are many different ways to move towards becoming a more sustainable family, some of them may seem overwhelming. Here are six small, achievable steps you can take to ensure you are raising a sustainable family.

1. Spend more time reading, playing games, and exploring nature. Take time to explore family friendly attractions. Great local options include the Outdoor Discovery Center, DeGraaf Nature Center, Nelis’ Dutch Village, and the Critter Barn. Screen-free time will decrease your dependence on entertainment that requires energy. Also, remember to unplug devices when they are not in use.

2. Use cloth diapers. On top of saving an average of $2,000 per child, you will also be saving 6,000 to 7,000 disposable diapers from the landfills, per child. Modern cloth diapers have no pins, no rubber pants, are super cute, and incredibly easy to use.

3. Switch up your laundry. Wash in cold and line dry your clothes when possible. Bonus tip: To avoid crunchy clothes after line drying, switch to a detergent without optical brighteners. When tumble drying, trade in fabric sheets for wool dryer balls. Not only will wool dryer balls decrease dry time (a major plus for any family!) they will also soften your clothes without the extra chemicals.

4. Skip the brown bag. Skip the plastic ones too. When packing lunches, opt for a reusable lunch box. Take it a step further by also using reusable snack bags.

Holland Farmer’s Market

5. Shop the farmers market. The Holland Farmers Market offers freshly picked fruits and vegetables, and also breads, cheese, eggs, flowers, honey, meats and more. Get the whole family involved by taking part in the free kids’ activities from 9:30 to 11:30 a.m.. on Wednesdays from June 14 through Aug. 30.

6. Leave the car parked more often. With daily, monthly, and student passes available, MAX Transit buses are a great way to get around. If public transportation is a new experience for you, the MAX offers a free bus buddy program. A bus buddy will ride with you, help you plan trips and offer general tips. To request a bus buddy, contact the MAX at (616) 355-1010. Also take advantage of the more than 150 miles of paved bike trails Holland has to offer.

 

 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.

Photos:

FARMERS MARKET 2.JPG: Shopping the Holland Farmers Market is fun, healthy and a good choice for a sustainable family. Courtesy photo

BERGHORST AND KIDS JPG: Marissa Berghorst spends time with her children outdoors as part of her plan to raise a “sustainable family.” Courtesy photo.

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.

Take this journey around campus with the “Challenging Borders” Project.

Take this journey around campus with the “Challenging Borders” Project.

“The project, “Challenging Borders: Displaced People,” has much to teach you about those whose lives have experienced disruption and disorder due to immigration, climate change, the refugee crisis and mass incarceration. And the disciplines of art and English and science and psychology and communication all converged to do so, crossing interdisciplinary boundaries in order to challenge you about the ways you view borders — domestic or international — and the people who are affected by them.”

Read the full story here:  https://blogs.hope.edu/stories-of-hope/interdisciplinary/walk-this-way-to-challenge-borders/

Living Sustainably: Green Commute Week offers Challenge, Health, Perks

LIVING SUSTAINABLY:  Green Commute Week offers Challenge, Health, Perks

By Carolyn Ulstad, Macatawa Area Coordinating Council

It’s finally spring! This time of year always warms my heart. The flowers and trees begin to blossom, the days gradually get longer and I notice myself and our neighbors venturing out more often from our homes. It’s incredibly refreshing to finally be able to soak up some warm rays.

Every spring I challenge myself to be more active, spend more time outside and ride my bike to work. And a great place to start my healthier and more sustainable commute is during the annual Holland/Zeeland Green Commute Week, now in its tenth year. The week-long commute challenge takes place May 14-20. It promotes walking, biking, carpooling, riding the bus and any other alternative transportation.

During the week, teams from businesses track their Green Commute miles online to compete for bragging rights and a trophy. Getting the entire workplace involved is a wonderful way promote healthy living and a healthy planet, but also the friendly competition can be a great team-building exercise.

Individual commuters not affiliated with a business can also submit their miles on the Macatawa Area Coordinating Council’s website to contribute to the overall total. At the end of the week, the Green Commute miles are totaled to calculate air quality and financial benefits to the community.

An added perk for Green Commute Week participants are Recharging Stations. These are local businesses giving discounts on things like coffee and food purchases, bike tune-ups, and free rides on MAX Transit’s fixed route service. (Find an interactive map showing the stations on the Green Commute web page.) Also this year, the Herrick District Library on River Avenue will have a photo-booth set up for anyone who green commutes.

To be eligible for discounts, participants must wear a Green Commute pin, available at the MACC office on Douglas Avenue, from any local bike shop or through an employer that is pre-registered.

To sign up your place of work or get more information about the commute challenge, call the MACC at (616)395-2688 or email culstad@the-macc.org.

 Carolyn Ulstad is program assistant at the Macatawa Area Coordinating Council.

Green Commute Week Calendar:

  • Sunday: Commute kickoff; consider biking downtown, or walk or carpool to church.
  • Monday: Bike Rodeo at Lakewood Elementary, 5 to 7 p.m. Bike Holland, 7 to 8 p.m. Casual ride, all skill levels. Meet at Centennial Park. Wear helmet.
  • Tuesday and Wednesday: School Challenge Day
  • Friday: Submit final commute miles by noon at www.the-macc.org/green- commute/green-commute-week-registration/

For information about Green Commute Week:

  • www.the-macc.org/green- commute
  • www.facebook.com/MIGreenCommute
  • on Twitter @MIGreenCommute

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.

PHOTO:

CUTLINE BIKECOMMUTE2.JPG – In advance of Green Commute Week, a group of area residents check out Holland’s new bike routes at April’s Bike Holland ride. Courtesy photo City of Holland

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.

April 2017 Sustainability News

April 30, 2017 – Living Sustainably: Task force shows businesses how energy efficiency wins

April 29, 2017 – Can a tiny house play a role in helping the homeless?

April 29, 2017 – Controversial Saugatuck Dunes development gets nod from planning commission

April 28, 2017 – 100% Clean Energy Bill Launched by US Senators Merkley, Sanders, Markey, and Advocates

April 28, 2017 – Robots, tasers join battle against invasive species

April 28, 2017 – DNR seeking volunteers at state parks

April 25, 2017 – Nearly 400 military bases must be tested for drinking-water contamination

April 25, 2017 – Holland West recognized for energy reduction in ‘Battle of the Buildings’

April 24, 2017 – Three Holland organizations win Battle of the Buildings Contest

April 24, 2017 – Roots run deep for American growers

April 23, 2017 – 7 things we’ve learned about Earth since the last Earth Day

April 23, 2017 – Living Sustainably: Join the Macatawa Cleanup for a healthier waterway

April 21, 2017 – DeGraaf Nature Center hosts Earth Day events

April 21, 2017 – Local SpartanNash stores to sell redesigned reusable bags

April 21, 2017 – The Swedish six-hour workday could help you live longer

April 20, 2017 – Hope College was a finalist in the “U.S. DEPARTMENT OF ENERGY RACE TO ZERO STUDENT DESIGN COMPETITION

April 20, 2017 – (Michign) Bipartisan legislators speak out against possible EPA closure

April 20, 2017 – Michigan DNR stresses caution during Wildfire Prevention Week

April 20, 2017 – George F. Will: The battle against sex trafficking of minors

April 19, 2017 – Earth Day crafts at Herrick

April 19, 2017 – Target Vows to Use Its Power & Scale to See that All Packaging Is Recyclable

April 19, 2017 – Hertz to Provide Carbon Reporting, Offsets to Corporate Clients

April 19, 2017 – 5 gadgets for a smarter home

April 19, 2017 – Walmart Launches Sustainability Platform to Reduce 1GT CO2 Emissions Across Value Chain

April 19, 2017 – Letter: Change your diet to fight climate change

April 17, 2017 – Living Sustainably: A week’s worth of things to do for Earth Day

April 17, 2017 – Kroger Sustainability ‘Lives Here’

April 11, 2017 – Chicago’s Mayor: 900 Public Buildings to Go 100% Renewable

April 10, 2017 – Living Sustainably: You can help fight the invasives invasion

April 10, 2017 – STUDENTS TO PRESENT CREATIVE AND RESEARCH PROJECTS ON APRIL 21  Original research by students on topics ranging from the historical roots of the Black Lives Matter movement, to monitoring of the Lake Macatawa watershed, to changes in political trust in the United States will be highlighted during the annual Celebration of Undergraduate Research and Creative Performance at Hope College on Friday, April 21, from 2:30 p.m. to 5 p.m. at the Richard and Helen DeVos Fieldhouse.

The public is invited.  Admission is free.

April 9, 2017 – Planting pride: Beautifying America one garden at a time

April 8, 2017 – Biking Holland: What’s next for city’s bike network

April 6, 2017 – UNCOMMON CLASS ON COMMON GROUNDS

April 5, 2017 – Get safer drinking water

April 4, 2017 – MICHIGAN SPACE GRANT CONSORTIUM SUPPORTS SEVERAL PROJECTS Several Hope College projects have received grants from the Michigan Space Grant Consortium (MSGC).

April 4, 2017 – Subscription boxes OK for the Earth?

April 3, 2017 – Transforming Organizations with Sustainability Management

April 2, 2017 – Holland Recognized as a 2016 Tree City USA

Living Sustainably: Task Force Shows Businesses How Energy Efficiency Wins

LIVING SUSTAINABLY:  Task Force Shows Businesses How Energy Efficiency Wins

By Brian Pageau (Hope College Alumni ’03), Commercial Institutional Task Force for Energy Efficiency

In my six-plus years of helping organizations pursue energy efficiency in buildings, I have met with more than 1,000 business owners and decision makers. I can confidently say 99 percent of the people I met love the concept of energy efficiency.

Some people love energy efficiency for reasons like financial stewardship and energy independence. Others like the environmental stewardship. Energy efficiency is driven by innovation in technology, and innovation drives our economy and job growth.

Energy efficiency is good for the environment, good for national economic competitiveness, good for the wallet and creates jobs. That’s a lot of wins.

And yet, less than 15 percent of those same 1,000 businesses and people strategically and proactively pursue energy efficiency. Even though they desire to be more energy efficient, they do not take action to be more energy efficient.

This is true among churches, schools and non-profits as well as retail, commercial, manufacturing and industrial businesses. With few exceptions, they all have a gap between desire and action.

Why? Three main reasons:

1. Lack of knowledge. Simply put, if someone doesn’t know a particular type of technology exists, it will not be implemented.

2. Lack of an attractive business case. In the world of business, every project is competing for the same dollar. If an energy efficiency project is “cool” but doesn’t pay back within the company return-on- investment threshold, it will not be prioritized.

3. Lack of capital. An organization might be aware of great energy efficient technology, and the business case might meet necessary criteria. But if the cost is $100,000 that’s not in the budget, most times the project will get shelved.

The Commercial/Institutional Task Force for Energy Efficiency is part of Holland’s 40-year Community Energy Plan. This past year, the task force conducted a pilot program with 13 small businesses and churches to determine what inspired action towards energy efficiency.

It addressed those three roadblocks between desire and action:

1. We built a program that delivered easily digestible energy information. This information was contextualized to the specific building and type of business.

2. We helped participants understand the business case for energy efficient technology and what it would mean to their bottom line each month.

3. We minimized the capital needed to implement the project by making people aware of Holland Board of Public Works and SEMCO utility incentives and financing options.

The results? Five of the 13 organizations implemented energy efficiency projects that created over $120,000 worth of contracting work in our community.

These projects collectively represented an average of 3.5-year return on investment in energy savings and realized a 30.1 percent savings in gas and electric consumption.

When factoring in the utility incentives, these projects are now saving the organizations about $25,000 per year.

With the right links between desire and action, these organizations learned how energy efficiency can be a win in multiple ways!

 Brian Pageau is spokesperson for the Commercial Institutional Task Force for Energy Efficiency, president of the Midwest Energy Group and a board member of the Michigan Energy Innovation Business Council.

Photo:

MINIT MART CASE LIGHTS.JPG  Simple steps such as using LED lights in the cooler cases are part of a plan to save energy at the Washington Square Minit Mart.   Courtesy photo by Barry Rutherford, Holland Board of Public Works.

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.

2017 Sustainability Research Projects

The Holland-Hope College Sustainability Institute (HHCSI) would like to formally recognize the following projects.  In Holland, we believe that in order to become a vibrant, world-class community we must look at all aspects of our community.  This includes the economic, social, and environmental impacts we all have. Our City of Holland Sustainability Committee has created a seven-pillar framework with “lenses” to help us evaluate and make more sustainable choices. We have used this framework model as a way to identify the Hope College Sustainability Research Projects.

PDF Document:  2017 Sustainability Research Projects

Abstract Book

This year’s research projects were designated with a “green ribbon” on their research poster at the April 21st event.  Original research by students on topics ranging from the historical roots of the Black Lives Matter movement, to monitoring of the Lake Macatawa watershed, to changes in political trust in the United States were highlighted during the annual Celebration of Undergraduate Research and Creative Performance at Hope College on Friday, April 21, from 2:30 p.m. to 5 p.m. at the Richard and Helen DeVos Fieldhouse.

Framework Categories:

SMART ENERGY  

ECONOMIC DEVELOPMENT 

TRANSPORTATION  

COMMUNITY & NEIGHBORHOOD  

QUALITY OF LIFE  

COMMUNITY KNOWLEDGE  

ENVIRONMENTAL ACTION & AWARENESS  

For more information about the Framework visit:

www.hollandsustainabilityreport.org

LIVING SUSTAINABLY:Join the Macatawa Cleanup for a Healthier Waterway

LIVING SUSTAINABLY:  Join the Macatawa Cleanup for a Healthier Waterway

By Carolyn Ulstad, Macatawa Area Coordinating Council

Trash, litter, debris – whatever you want to call it – has sadly become more and more common in our waterways. It’s sad because it’s not only unpleasant for us to look at, but it can also have a negative impact on wildlife.

Trash comes in many shapes, sizes and materials, but in recent years most of it is plastic. When plastics enter the water, they break down by wave erosion and the sun’s powerful UV rays. This can lead to chemicals leaching into the water, creating a less than pristine living environment.

To make matters worse, plastics also love to attract toxins! Their porous surfaces are like magnets for the stuff. More research is needed to know exactly how it could impact the food web. Regardless, it’s likely not healthy for birds and fish that often confuse small plastic fragments for food.

By now, I’m hoping that you are at least a little troubled by the thought of plastic floating in our water and lining our rivers and lakes. Mostly I’m hoping that you are asking yourself what you can do about it.

First, try to limit using plastic as much as possible. When it is used, dispose of it responsibly. This also goes for trash you may find that is not your own. If you see it, pick it up. Make sure to recycle at your home and check with your local hauler to know what items are accepted. You can also get involved in area cleanup events.

Cleanup efforts have been ongoing for many years in the Holland area, with one set for this Saturday. The Macatawa Area Coordinating Council (MACC) and the Outdoor Discovery Center Macatawa Greenway (ODCMG) have been jointly holding spring and fall cleanups for 10 years.

Participating is a lot of fun, and bizarre things are always found. Last year a shopping cart was pulled out of the water at one site and a mailbox with its wooden post still attached was recovered at another location. Even a station wagon seat was found once.

To unearth the next big discovery, join the next Macatawa River Cleanup this Saturday, April 29, from 1 to 4 p.m. in Kollen Park.

Volunteers can pick up trash on foot or in kayaks that are provided by ODCMG. All ages are welcome, but organizers do request that anyone under 16 years old be accompanied by an adult. An RSVP is required; contact ODCMG at (616)393-9453 or find the online registration form by going to the event calendar at outdoordiscovery.org.

We hope to see you there!

 Carolyn Ulstad is program assistant at the Macatawa Area Coordinating Council.

If You Go:

What: Macatawa River Cleanup

When: 1 to 4 p.m., Saturday, April 29

Who: Community volunteers

How: Sign up at (616) 393-9453 or at the event calendar at outdoordiscovery.org

Photo:

Kayak cleaners.jpg The annual Macatawa River Cleanup, by kayak and by foot, will be held this Saturday.

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.