Living Sustainably: Workshop focuses on watershed and quality of life

LIVING SUSTAINABLY:  Workshop focuses on watershed and quality of life
By Jessica Vander Ark, West Michigan Environmental Action Council

For those who grew up or live in Holland, Lake Michigan, Lake Macatawa, and the tributary streams that flow into them are a powerful focal point of our lives. We visit the parks and beaches, swim, kayak, enjoy bonfires and picnics, fish off the piers and docks, and ride in our boats.
The water is a main ingredient in our quality of life.
But how does a community rise to the responsibility of preserving that freshwater resource and ensure a quality of life for current and future generations?

Quality of Life: The Macatawa Watershed” is the focus of the next Living Sustainably Along the Lakeshore workshop, coming Sept. 12 at Herrick District Library in Holland 6:30pm

The presentation will help answer that question.

Consider that everyone lives in a watershed, and everyone’s actions can impact it either positively or negatively.
A watershed is an area of land where all the water – surface and groundwater – flows into the lowest point, such as a stream, river, or lake. It’s like a sink: Water drains down to the bottom carrying dirt, soap, and anything else it encounters.
That is also how a watershed works, with the drain being the stream or river. And different things happen to the rainwater, depending where it lands.
When rain lands on natural or green, porous spaces like trees and landscaping, it soaks in and recharges groundwater supplies. When water lands on hard, developed surfaces, it runs downhill, carrying pollutants with it.
Why do we care if water soaks in or runs off? Because those pollutants are full of sediment, fertilizers, pathogens, and litter, which can cause troubles for Lake Macatawa and Lake Michigan.
Nobody wants to fish, kayak or swim in green, smelly, polluted water – and that impacts our quality of life.
So, what do all of us living in this watershed need to know?
First, take time to interact with waterways. Appreciate where we live and all the opportunities our watersheds provide, especially for quality of life.
Then pay attention to where the rain goes where you live, work, and go to school. Grab an umbrella and watch the water flow. Once you know where the runoff is, the next step is to follow the motto, “Slow it down, spread it out, and soak it in.”
There are several ways to do that, like using native plants in landscaping, using rain barrels to capture rain from your roof, or limiting impermeable surfaces.
The Living Sustainably presentation will share more about those methods and other ways to embrace our Great Lakes culture and quality of life.
 Jessica Vander Ark is the director of environmental education at West Michigan Environmental Action Council

drain.jpg Storm drains lead directly to rivers and lakes, so never dump anything down the drains.

students.jpg Students in Ottawa County learn about the effects of stormwater pollution on their watersheds.

This Week’s Sustainability Framework Theme
Quality of Life: The community, through governmental, religious, business and social organizations, makes decisions that contribute to its own well-being.

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 for more information.

August 2017 Sustainability News

August 2017 Sustainability News

August 31, 2017 – 7 Ways to Have a Great Green Labor Day Party

August 31, 2017 – 4 steps to safely recycle your household batteries

August 31, 2017 – SpartanNash expands Double Up program

August 31, 2017 – Here’s What Good Buildings Have in Common

August 31, 2017 – Local Favorites: This salad takes advantage of fresh veggies

August 31, 2017 – Holland area joins Harvey relief cause; learn where is best to give

August 30, 2017 – Something in the Water:  Turns out there are more than a handful of craft breweries owned by Hope College alumni.

August 30, 2017 – Into Africa:  Dr. Tim Laman ’83 is passionate about conservation and joined the Hope College Alumni Travel Program.

August 30, 2017 – Dumpster-Diving Your Way into Zero Waste to Landfill

August 30, 2017 – Considering a Green Roof to Boost Stormwater Management? New PACE Funding Can Help

August 30, 2017 – How much would Hurricane Harvey rain raise the Great Lakes?

August 30, 2017 – Comment period closing for Saugatuck Dunes marina development

August 30, 2017 – Michigan communities take slightly different approach to clean energy financing tool

August 30, 2017 – National environment group recognizes GVSU sustainability practices

August 29, 2017 – Hurricane Harvey a Trash, Logistics Disaster

August 29, 2017 – 7 Ways to Improve Energy Efficiency

August 29, 2017 – The ever-inconvenient Gore

August 28, 2017 – Living Sustainably: Gardening a different way helps students learn

August 28, 2017 – Could states lure new businesses with renewable energy? (Large companies are looking for locations that help them meet clean energy goals, says a Michigan utility.)

August 26, 2017 – Meet the nation’s most endangered monuments

August 25, 2017 – Hurricane Harvey Shakes Up Oil Prices

August 25, 2017 – Why are Bill Gates and Richard Branson investing in meat that costs $18,000 a pound?

August 25, 2017 – Michigan DNR reminds hunters to observe cervid importation regulations

August 25, 2017 – Artist takes part in groundbreaking exhibition

August 24, 2017 – By 2021, we’ll have lost more than 4,000 grocery stores

August 24, 2017- Women Who Care donates $19,500 to Escape Ministries

August 24, 2017 – Fennville Schools asking for $23M bond

August 24, 2017 – Downtown Holland parking ambassador starting next week

August 24, 2017 – Letter: Clear and present danger

August 24, 2017 – Interior Secretary Zinke won’t eliminate any national monuments

August 24, 2017 – Indianapolis LED Streetlight Upgrade Will Save More Than $800K Per Year

August 24, 2017 – As In-house Sustainable Sourcing Schemes Soar, Will Fairtrade Fade?

August 23, 2017 – Letter: Clean water crucial to making America great again

August 23, 2017 – ‘Not one drop’ of Poland Spring bottled water is from a spring, lawsuit claims

August 23, 2017 – Midwest researchers aim to make home energy management systems even smarter

August 23, 2017 – Organic produce becomes mainstream

August 23, 2017 – How much sugar in that cola? Panera to list it on its cups

August 22, 2017 – A coal country dispute over an alleged Trump promise unmet

August 23, 2017- As US Exports More Natural Gas, Manufacturers Worry About Increased Prices

August 22, 2017 – Sierra Magazine Cool Schools 2017 – Hope College listed as 156/227 schools  Full List.    Princeton Review:  Green College 2018 Honor Roll

August 21, 2017 – Living Sustainably: Award-winning series celebrates local sustainability

August 22, 2017 – Green Roof Retrofits Relieve Stormwater Systems (and Look Lovely)

August 20, 2017 – Meet Destination Education’s new college advisers

August 19, 2017 – How a middle-aged Midwestern nobody made his mark in the Arctic

August 18, 2017 – Asian carp caught near Lake Michigan got past electric barriers

August 18, 2017 – GHI projects receive Governor’s Energy Excellence Award nomination

August 18, 2017 – Holland votes to file lawsuit against company involved in Holland Energy Park project


August 17, 2017 – Michigan Legislature Expands Program Serving Locally-Grown Food in Schools

August 17, 2017 – It’s Time to Tie Executive Compensation to Sustainability

August 17, 2017 – Cream Cheese Plant Uses ‘Unsustainable & Disruptive’ Amounts of Water

August 16, 2017 – MESSAGE TO THE HOPE COMMUNITY by Rev. Dennis Voskuil

August 16, 2017 – Method Cleaning Products To Display How2Recycle Labels

August 15, 2017 – SMELLS OF THE CITY

August 15, 2017 – Living Sustainably: Creative recycling can help Michigan catch up

August 15, 2017 – Annual Michigan Economic Developers Association meeting held in Holland

August 15, 2017 – 5 simple ways to stay connected as a family on a budget

August 15, 2017 – Hudsonville receives tree-planting grant

August 15, 2017 – West Olive’s Ottawa School turns 150

August 15, 2017 – Holland police surprise special needs student

August 15, 2017 – Eclipse viewers need special glasses, astronomers say

August 15, 2017 – Infant mortality rate rises 35% in Holland


August 14, 2017 – Living Sustainably: Creative recycling can help Michigan catch up

August 14, 2017 – Developer wants industrial district in Holland for future tax abatement


August 11, 2017 – Poll: Most say time to stop trying to repeal ‘Obamacare’

August 10, 2017 – Building Healthy Communities encourages Michigan schools to apply for wellness program

August 10, 2017 – Hope College’s Bultman Center provides dedicated student space

August 10, 2017 – Latino Republicans see political peril in Trump immigration plan

August 10, 2017 – Holland reacts to the election of Raul Garcia

August 10, 2017 – Millennials are driving a $9 trillion change in investing

August 10, 2017 – Lakeshore Ethnic Diversity Alliance Announces New Executive Director



August 8, 2017 – 6 Essential Truths That Will Help the World Urbanize Sustainably

August 7, 2017 –Living Sustainably: 5 ways to put green into back to school


August 7, 2017 – Government Report Finds Drastic Impact of Climate Change on U.S.

August 7, 2017 – Secretary Perdue Announces $16.8 Million to Encourage SNAP Participants to Purchase Healthy Foods

August 7, 2017 – Wrangler to Cotton Farmers: Improve Sustainability, Boosts Profits, We’ll Help

August 7, 2017 – Former VW Exec Pleads Guilty to Helping Car Maker Cheat Emissions Standards in the US

August 7, 2017 – DuPont Continues to Settle Environmental Lawsuits, Adds Another $50M

August 7, 2017 – World’s Largest Companies Push Record Growth in Renewable Energy

August 7, 2017 – Commercial Building Retrofits Follow Ultra-Low Energy Trend


August 5, 2017 – Students get prekindergarten help with Start School Ready

August 4, 2017 – Camp Sunshine creates fun space for developmentally disabled

August 4, 2017 – Spring & Summer Sustainability Slants: Supply Chain, Packaging & Apparel

August 4, 2017 – The hidden environmental costs of dog and cat food

August 4, 2017 – Class to offer mountain biking basics

August 4, 2017 – How Much Motor City Water Does Coke Use, and What Does It Cost ‘Em?

August 4, 2017 – PepsiCo Faces Activist Outrage, Plus Threats of More to Come

August 4, 2017 – Report Points Finger at US Timber Distributors for Illegal Deforestation in PNG

August 3, 2017 – Third Annual Governor’s Energy Excellence Awards Honor Michiganders for Innovative Energy Solutions (Finalists include public, private efforts to reduce energy waste)  Holland has been involved in three of the finalist projects.  Information about the program can be found at

August 3, 2017 – Holland state park, DNR host stop invasives week

August 3, 2017 – The Mediterranean diet works – but not if you’re poor, a study finds


August 3, 2017 – Walmart: Chemical Footprint Reporting Is Key to Creating Sustainable Stuff

August 2, 2017 – Hope College earns STARS Silver rating

August 2, 2017 – Sustainability in school isn’t as hard as you think (Going green in your dorm isn’t as hard as you think)

August 2, 2017 – Must-have elements for building a sustainable new home

August 2, 2017 – UPDATE: Civic Center work halted during investigation of fatal accident

August 2, 2017 – Hitting the Goals of the Paris Agreement Requires Urgent Business Support

August 1, 2017 – 5 tips for taking the stress out of ‘back to after school’

August 1, 2017 – Michigan DNR to accept pre-proposals for aquatic habitat grants

August 1, 2017 – How Alternative Energy Affects Electricity Pricing

Living Sustainably: Gardening a Different Way Helps Students Learn

LIVING SUSTAINABLY: Gardening a Different Way Helps Students Learn

By Julie Clark, Hope College Upward Bound
Ninth-grade students from Hope College’s TRIO Upward Bound program did some hands-on learning this summer as they took care of a garden that was growing in an unusual place.

As a part of the program’s launch into project based learning, the students grew vegetables in two kiddie pools filled with dirt on Hope’s campus. Urban farming was the learning focus this summer for the ninth graders.
Students grew lettuce, regular and cherry tomatoes, cucumbers, and carrots. They researched the basic care of each vegetable and learned which plants were weeds that needed to be pulled.
When a problem arose with the cucumber plant, they did further research to figure out what was wrong and how to treat it. As the cucumbers needed more space to grow, students were given stakes and twine, which they used to create their own trellises for the cucumber plants to climb.
As the cherry tomatoes grew, some of the teens enjoyed picking and eating them straight from the vine. Even a teacher grew to love cherry tomatoes through this experience. Some of the students had never grown vegetables before, so it was a new and interesting experience for them. One student commented on how much they enjoyed watching everything grow. Another said that they enjoyed the
garden even though they don’t like to eat a lot of vegetables.

At the end of the summer session, the students enjoyed the fruits of their labor as they were able to eat a salad using the vegetables that came from their garden. Through this experience, students learned that you can be creative when growing your own food and use just about anything that will hold soil.
This kind of project based learning was made possible through the college’s TRIO Upward Bound program. The federally funded college readiness program helps high school students learn the skills needed to succeed in high school and helps prepare them for college and college life.
During the academic year, students receive tutoring from Hope College students twice a week on campus. They also participate in Friday sessions once a month, participate in SAT prep workshops, and older students receive help applying for college.
During the summer session, students take six weeks of classes, explore possible careers and visit college campuses.
High school students from Holland, West Ottawa, and Fennville school districts can participate in the program at Hope. Students must apply and meet certain criteria. Go to: for more information.

 Julie Clark is a teacher at Hope College’s Upward Bound program.  This was her sixth summer with the program. Having always had a garden growing up, she enjoyed sharing her gardening knowledge with the students.

Gardening2.jpg or gardening1.jpg Students in Hope College’s Upward Bound summer program learned how easy urban gardening can be, using kiddie swimming pools.

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.

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 for more information.

Living Sustainably: Award-winning series celebrates local sustainability

LIVING SUSTAINABLY:  Award-winning series celebrates local sustainability

By Michelle Gibbs, Holland-Hope College Sustainability Institute

Back by popular demand, the Living Sustainably Along the Lakeshore series is offering another great line-up of educational events sharing how Holland is becoming a more sustainable community.
The annual series began in the fall of 2014, and the planning team’s mission is to educate and empower citizens to live more sustainably through these free educational events.

Each month, as part of our upcoming 2017-2018 series, we will share information about work being done as it relates to the city’s “Sustainability Framework.” The framework demonstrates the many ways in which sustainability awareness can improve our community’s future. It includes these seven themes:
 Smart Energy
 Economic Development
 Transportation
 Community & Neighborhood
 Quality of Life
 Community Knowledge
 Environmental Action & Awareness
The City of Holland Sustainability Committee created this seven-pillar framework to guide decisions about our future, ensuring Holland continues to be a world-class place to live, to do business, and to play.
We are using the framework to share information about our journey to become a more sustainable community.  Find the 2016 Sustainability Report at
In September 2016, Living Sustainably Along the Lakeshore received the “2016 Top Project Award” from the Michigan Department of Environmental Quality’s Neighborhood Environmental Partners Program.
The advocacy group was recognized for its 2015 educational series and for collaborating with 50 local partners on behalf of sustainability education. The announcement was made at the First Annual Michigan Sustainability Conference, held in Grand Rapids.
The Living Sustainably series is sponsored by the following organizations, with additional endorsing partners that assist with individual events relevant to their respective missions:
 City of Holland, as part of the Sustainability Committee’s efforts,
 Herrick District Library, as part of the library’s adult programming series,
 Hope College, as part of the Sustainability Institute,
 League of Women Voters,
 Meijer Campus of Grand Valley State University, as part of the university’s commitment to sustainability, and
 West Michigan Environmental Action Council.
Plan now to attend the fall and winter events, shown in the list.
Flyers can be found under the “Events” section at or follow us on Facebook by searching for “Living Sustainably Along the Lakeshore.”
Details about the spring 2018 line-up will be available later this fall.  We look forward to having you join us!
 Michelle Gibbs is director of the Holland-Hope College Sustainability Institute. The vision for the Institute is a healthy and economically vibrant community that promotes environmental stewardship and mutual respect for people and the planet. Our mission is to foster collaborative efforts to infuse sustainability into the minds and practices of the greater Holland community.

Save the Dates: Living Sustainably Event Schedule
These Living Sustainably Along the Lakeshore programs all will be 6:30 to 8:00 p.m.
“Quality of Life: The Macatawa Watershed,” Tuesday, Sept. 12, at Herrick District Library.
“Smart Energy: Holland Energy Park – Resource. Destination. Gateway.,” Tuesday, Oct. 10, at Holland Energy Park.  (RSVP required due to limited space).  RSVP:
“Community and Neighborhood:  Recycling, It’s not just 3R’s.  Hint: It’s 8R’s.,” Tuesday, Nov. 14, at Herrick District Library.
“Economic Development: Forecasting a Sustainable Government,” Tuesday, Jan. 9, at Herrick District Library.

Lake mac.jpg (Courtesy of the City of Holland) The Lake Macatawa watershed’s role in Holland’s quality of life is the focus of the first of the Living Sustainably Along the Lakeshore fall programs.

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

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 for more information.

Living Sustainably Along the Lakeshore Upcoming Events

The series is led by the Holland-Hope College Sustainability-Institute as part of their community education programming. The series follows the City of Holland’s Sustainability Framework for creating a more sustainable community for all.

Holland Michigan Living Sustainably Along the Lakeshore

LSATL fall 2017 events (flyer)

We offer FREE educational events which aim to educate and empower Holland area residents to live more sustainably. The series is brought to you by the following sponsor organizations, with additional endorsing partners that assist with individual events relevant to their respective missions:

-City of Holland, as part of the Sustainability Committee’s efforts
-Herrick District Library, as part of the Library’s adult programming series
-Hope College, as part of the Sustainability Institute
-League of Women Voters, as part of the Natural Resource Committee’s efforts
-Meijer Campus of Grand Valley State University, as part of the University’s commitment to sustainability
-West Michigan Environmental Action Council

Bike Holland Series – Event # 5 (Final Event of the Summer)

Monday, August 21 at 7:00pm – FREE RIDE

Come celebrate the new bike lanes in Holland and show your support for alternative transportation at the Bike Holland ride series this summer. The ride will roll out from Centennial Park (250 Central Ave Holland) at 7PM and will last roughly 45 minutes at a very casual and social pace. All types of cyclists and bikes welcome. Helmets are required.
This final ride will be led by the Russcher family! If you spend much time downtown Holland, then you’ve probably seen this family out and about on their bikes! Andy commutes via bike daily and the family makes cycling a priority in their day to day lives. Andy is an active member of Pedal Holland. Our post-ride get together will be at New Holland Brewing Co. 

Huge thank you to all of our partners, ride leaders and post-ride sites!! The Russcher family, New Holland Brewing Co.Velo City CyclesOur Brewing CompanyLemonjello’s CoffeeFrances JayeCollective IdeaPocket Photographer, Pedal HollandGreen Commute Week, Holland, MICity Of Holland, Michigan – City HallWest Michigan Bike & Fitness, and Outdoor Discovery Center !!

Did you know?  – Commuting by bike is a great way to make our community more sustainable. Bikes are the most energy-lean form of transportation around: not only are they human-powered, they also require only a fraction of the energy of a car to manufacture and maintain. And riding your bicycle is an unbeatable stress-buster, too – people who commute by bike reduce their stress level by a whopping 40%!

We are looking to reduce the amount of energy we all use as part of Holland’s 40-Year Community Energy Plan, and choosing alternative modes of transportation reduces our carbon footprint. So unplug, get outdoors, get healthier, and spend time with friends and family – hop on a bike for your next trip!

For information about biking in Holland visit the City’s website
and the Macatawa Area Coordinating Council’s website

City Bike Map:

For more information about the series visit:

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.