Living Sustainably: Innovation and growth talk grows louder

By Jennifer Owens, Lakeshore Advantage

Coffee shop chats about business startups, as seen here between Matt Gira, left, and Garrick Pohl, help create a vibrant, sustainable business climate. Photo by Jennifer Owens.

When I left my economic development role in Ann Arbor, one of the things I missed the most professionally was overhearing entrepreneurs pitching their ideas to potential investors at coffee shops, oftentimes, college kids talking about a new technology they had started at U-M’s lab. Sometimes I would interrupt if I could add value. Other times, I would just smile and enjoy the energy.
To me this energy is the measure of a vibrant entrepreneurial ecosystem. You can see it, hear and feel it. Sometimes you couldn’t resist interrupting just to be part of it.

Recently, I was at Ferris Coffee. As I looked around and listened in, I heard Matt Gira sharing his business model for FounderCo with Garrick Pohl. Garrick is a serial entrepreneur working on a new technology startup, Innerprise. After Matt pitched, Garrick pitched Matt on integrating his technology into his company.

I am not sure if a match was made between the two, but I had to interrupt this conversation and tell them how encouraged I was to hear their discussion. I felt it, and I saw it. The energy is here. Our ecosystem is beginning to thrive.

Amanda Chocko, director of SURGE, chats with two members who support Holland’s startup ecosystem, Daniel Morrison, of Collective Idea, and Pete Hoffswell, of Holland BPW Fiber.

SURGE, powered by Lakeshore Advantage, is a one-stop resource for West Michigan entrepreneurs with startup companies in early and idea-stage growth. Offering startups navigation, connection and support helps grow the primary businesses of tomorrow, fosters a culture of innovation and makes ours a vibrant entrepreneurial ecosystem that attracts top technical talent. People want to live where new ideas thrive.

Allegan and Ottawa counties are two of the fastest growing counties in Michigan, with Ottawa County leading the state at a clip of 10 percent population growth since 2010. People are choosing to live in West Michigan, and 69 percent of primary employers we interviewed last year have plans to grow here in the next three years. For four years in a row, WalletHub has named Holland the Best Small City to Start a Business.

As we continue to look forward to ensure long-term economic success, we need to be a welcoming community accepting of new ideas, new residents and a place where innovation and the workforce of today and tomorrow can thrive.

The Lakeshore Advantage team has fun supporting a vibrant business community in the Holland area, here with Matt Gira, local entrepreneur and founder of FounderCo, and David Wang, founder of the startup Honey Batcher.

How do we create our desired picture for our community’s future, and how do we improve? We watch. We listen. We analyze the data. We pay attention and invest time, energy and resources to fill the gaps. We encourage. We lead.

In our community, I am very encouraged to see diversity and inclusion efforts at public and private sector organizations growing so that people feel welcome. Leaders are making strides to increase housing inventory at all workforce income levels. Business and community leaders support our primary employers of tomorrow through their invaluable involvement as mentors, investors, encouragers and in countless other ways.

Through this entrepreneurial support, we continue the legacy of embracing innovation and new ideas and make ours a place where entrepreneurs are successful at creating a profitable business around the next big idea. These actions address sustainability at the roots – ensuring current and future generations want to live and work in our vibrant economy.

When you listen, what do you hear? Encourage the good, and take action to fill the gaps you see to make ours a sustainable community with a bright future.

 Jennifer Owens is president of Lakeshore Advantage, a regional non-profit economic development organization whose passion is to ensure good jobs in a vibrant economy for current and future generations.

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.

Living Sustainably: Energy efficiency upgrades create comfort, savings and healthier homes

By Ken Freestone, City of Holland
Although we had a late start to summer, is your home already too hot – especially that second or third floor? Now think back just several months ago. Remember how cold some of your rooms were during the Polar Vortex?
A Home Energy Upgrade could solve many of those issues, whether cold or hot.
The Home Energy Retrofit program through the City of Holland has several ways to assist homeowners, including landlords (for up to four-plexes), to make homes more comfortable all year long, help you save on energy costs, and also make homes healthier and safer. In addition, homes that have been retrofitted and upgraded and then certified usually see a 5 percent increase in value at time of sale compared to non-certified homes.

Holland’s Home Energy Retrofit program helps city residents save 10 percent on home energy improvements.

The Home Energy Retrofit program is sponsored through the City of Holland, the Holland Board of Public Works, and the Holland Energy Fund. It is available to all homeowners in the City of Holland.
The Home Energy Retrofit program provides a 10 percent grant towards home energy upgrades plus low-interest, on-bill financing through the Holland BPW or through Michigan Saves, a state-wide nonprofit dedicated to low-interest energy efficiency loans.

A blower door like this is part of the equipment used in a complete home energy audit to help measure the energy efficiency of a home.

For homeowners living outside the city limits, there are some other incentives through the Holland BPW and Semco Energy.
So how do you get started? The first step is to get a complete energy audit on your home by a certified building performance professional in our program. These audits are conducted using scientific tools to measure data and then compile a detailed report on the condition of your home. If you have had some kind of “walk-through,” clipboard audit in the past you have gotten only a small snapshot of the true condition of your home.
A complete home performance audit provides a clear picture of the energy related conditions of your home and also provides a road-map for the highest and lowest priorities for upgrade. Audits are free for city residents.
The audit will also help you understand the highest and best return on your upgrade investment, including how to understand some of the advertising out there.

Appropriate insulation installed through Holland’s Home Energy Retrofit program can make upstairs spaces cooler in the summer and warmer in winter.

For example, before you jump up and say, “I need windows,” let us help you understand that windows are lowest on the list of energy saving priorities. There are good reasons to replace windows, such as if they are broken, rotted, or inoperable, but they are the most expensive in the energy upgrade process and have an approximate 20- to 70-year payback for energy savings.
The really good news is that some of the most effective measures in an energy retrofit are also some of the least expensive.

Icicles like this are a good sign your home has energy issues that could be addressed before next winter.

So, how to get started? The City of Holland is hosting a free Home Energy Retrofit Open House from 6:30 to 8:30 p.m. Monday, July 15 at the Civic Center Place. Attendees can talk with HER auditors, homeowners who have retrofitted and upgraded their homes, contractors, city staff and local nonprofits that provide resources for income qualified households.
People may also contact Ken Freestone at the City of Holland for more details on getting an energy audit and to find out other resources available through the program.

 Ken Freestone is the residential energy advisor for the City of Holland. Ken can be reached at k.freestone@cityofholland.com or (616)355-1364.

If You Go
What: Home Energy Retrofit Open House
When: 6:30-8:30 p.m., Monday, July 15
Where: Civic Center Place
Why: A free event to explore resources for saving home energy costs

This Week’s Sustainability Framework Theme
Smart Energy: We need to use both conservation and efficiency measures to manage our resources to provide access to reliable and cost-effective energy.

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.

Living Sustainably: Contamination disrupts recycling efforts

Holland city and Republic Services personnel sorted sample loads of trash to determine how much material was and wasn’t being properly recycled.

By Aaron Thelenwood, City of Holland
There is a lot of negative press lately regarding the current state of recycling, as wider geopolitical pressures have strained the overall recycling system, creating impacts felt at the local level.
As a result, more recyclable materials are finding their way into landfills rather than being sent abroad. Also, certain materials are being left out of the recycling equation entirely (previously foam products had been excluded, now glass, and some communities are also moving away from certain plastics). And, some communities across the U.S. and Michigan are suspending their recycling programs.

Compounding all of this is confusion related to the types of materials which are accepted curbside, a list which at times seems to change daily. Today, we’d like to walk you through a few key points to ease some concerns and frustrations, and to provide a clearer understanding of the current state of recycling.
1. What’s going on? China was a major disruptor, which cannot be overstated. The majority of the world’s materials were going to that one market, and China shutting its doors fundamentally changed the recycling ecosystem.
2. What happened? In a word: Contamination. For the better part of a decade, China had been voicing concerns over the poor quality of materials it was receiving due to contamination, leading to ecological issues the country had to struggle with.
3. What is contamination? Contamination is anything which doesn’t belong in the recycling stream – from greasy pizza boxes and half full mayo jars to plastic films, textiles, or carpeting.
Those changed policies in China have produced great challenges for the U.S., and for us in Holland, but also new opportunities. These silver linings include:
1. The Michigan Office of Environment, Great Lakes & Energy (formerly the DEQ) is investing more in recycling infrastructure now than it has over the last 30 years. It has established annual funding to the tune of $5.7 million for development of regional recycling markets, recycling infrastructure investment, and community education.
2. Even as recycling programs are more strained, public support for recycling continues to increase. Residents are demanding ongoing access, creating market demand for recycling services. Also, commercial recycling continues to steadily improve as companies become more conscious of the need to decrease their landfill material streams. Locally, we have great examples in Herman Miller, Haworth, and Steelcase who are effectively “zero waste” to landfills.
3. Although China created a substantial market disruption, it has also refocused everyone’s attention on recycling correctly and on system inefficiencies.
With that said, there will continue to be ups and downs, but by following a few key steps, we can all do our part to drive down contamination rates and increase the success of our recycling efforts locally.
(See sidebar on how and what to recycle.)
The City of Holland will continue to monitor the current state of the city’s material stream to identify opportunities for improvement. The city’s 2018 waste Characterization Audit data is available at:  https://www.cityofholland.com/solidwasteandrecycling/waste-characterization-audit-2018


Further, the city’s Materials Management Taskforce is working to compare the city’s Yellow Bag recycling program to other standard recycling models. The goal of this taskforce’s work is to establish the City of Holland as a recycling leader both regionally and beyond.

  Want to know more about Recycling at Hope College?  Click here.

 Aaron Thelenwood is solid waste and recycling education coordinator for Holland.

Much Material is Not Recycled
The city survey found large amounts of potentially recyclable materials are not being recycled. This is percentage being recycled of the total material in the waste stream.
Paper 60 percent
Cardboard 45 percent
Mixed Glass 40 percent
Metal (ferrous) 28 percent
Mixed plastics 26 percent
Metal (non-ferrous) 8 percent

SIDEBAR:  Here’s How and What to Recycle Properly
The “how”
1. Clean, clean, clean! Make sure all containers are empty, clean, and dry! Empty means nothing inside; clean means no visual contaminants (but no need to run the dishwasher), and dry means dry.
2. Back to Basics. Only recycle what is specifically listed. In the past, recycling programs added more and more to the list of acceptable materials, which created confusion from one program to the next. It also led to the phenomenon known as “Aspirational Recycling” – the practice of trying to recycle something that seems recyclable, but is one of the major causes of contamination in recycling systems.
3. When in doubt throw it out. This may seem counterproductive and hard advice to swallow. But keep in mind that one wrong item in the recycling stream has a bigger detrimental impact than one recyclable material sent to the landfill. If you don’t know if something recyclable, err on the side of caution and toss it.
The “What”
1. Paper: Newsprint, office paper, junk mail, magazines.
2. Cardboard: Amazon boxes, the clean half of your pizza box, cereal boxes.
3. Plastic Containers (#1-7): “Containers” is key. No films, no “recyclable” plastic shipping envelopes (even if it has a number), no zip lock bags, and no plastic grocery bags. (Many of these items can be recycled through separate, specific third-party recyclers, but you might need to do some research.
4. Metal: ferrous (steel) and non-ferrous (aluminum).
5. (Maybe) Glass: The future of glass curbside is uncertain. Currently it is not accepted curbside and, over the past five-plus years, most recyclers were stockpiling the material, hoping the markets would return. So far, they have not, but innovative uses for glass are being explored – so hopefully more to come on that!
Remember: Don’t contaminate the stream. When in doubt, throw it out.

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

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

Living Sustainably: Michigan offers excellent outdoor adventures

By Zach Terpstra, Hope College Outdoor Adventure Club
With summer now in full swing, the desire to escape civilization and explore all that Michigan has to offer has never been greater.
But where-oh-where to go?
Never fear – the following are fan favorites of seasoned Michigander adventurers! Tried and tested by Hope College’s Outdoor Adventure Club, these three areas provide stunning, amazing experiences for both outdoor novices and experts alike.
Manistee River Trail Loop – This recreation area in the upper Lower Peninsula offers jaw-dropping, unparalleled views. It offers 22 miles of trail following the banks of the Manistee River, so make sure to bring a fair amount of food for two days of hiking.  A best practice is to tackle this trail with others to enjoy the views together.

The Manistee River Trail offers a multi-day hike opportunity easily accessible in Lower Michigan.

Pictured Rocks National Lakeshore – This jewel of the north, along the south shore of Lake Superior, is one of the greatest places Michigan has to offer. The picturesque views are exceeded only by what lies ahead, just around the corner on the trail!  This area is massive, and while advertisements attempt to sway you to take a boat tour, the most long-lasting experience comes from hiking along this
lakeshore, allowing you to be fully immersed in this beautiful park.

The scenery of the Pictured Rocks offers great rewards of scenery from shore, not just from boats.

Porcupine Mountains State Park – The only “mountains” in Michigan, in the western Upper Peninsula, create scenic views which can captivate almost any passerby, no matter how addicted to your smartphone you may be.  Cabins are nestled in the heart of this area, so make sure to take a few extra days off to give yourself ample time to explore all of this park, as it hides many waterfalls near its trails.

The highest points in Michigan, in the western Upper Peninsula, offer amazing views and waterfalls for those willing to hike a bit.

As you go on your summer adventures and enjoy these natural areas, remember to follow the Leave No Trace principles. Doing so preserves the beauty of the parks and protects the ecosystems.

Image result for practice leave no trace principlesThe seven principles of Leave No Trace are: Planning ahead, camping on durable surfaces, disposing of waste properly, leaving what you find, minimizing campfire impacts, respecting wildlife, and being considerate of other visitors. You can learn more about the essentials of Leave No Trace at www.lnt.org.

Finally, whether you are camping, backpacking, or just taking day hikes, here are some tips to get you started:

 Always stay on marked trails and campsites to prevent erosion and protect vegetation.
 Plan ahead what food you will bring and how you will dispose of waste. For instance, pack a few gallon-sized Ziploc bags to put trash in.
 Only make fires in designated areas and fire rings.
 Remember to “take only pictures and leave only footprints.”

Enjoy exploring Michigan’s outdoors!

 Zach Terpstra has been on the leadership team for the Hope College Outdoor Adventure Club for three years.  While he enjoys the crazy adventures he personally goes on, the opportunity to share these experiences and inspire others to be outside is what drives him.

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.

Living Sustainably: Local efforts can address global climate change

By Diane Haworth, local sustainability professional

There is plenty of news related to climate change these days. The planet’s climate has constantly been changing over geological time, but now scientists are concerned that the natural fluctuation is being increased by an upsurge in greenhouse gases from human activities.
The greenhouse effect refers to the way the Earth’s atmosphere traps energy from the sun. Trapped energy that radiates back to the planet heats both the atmosphere and the earth’s surface, keeping the temperature at a level to sustain life.
Scientists believe we are adding to the natural greenhouse effect with gases such as carbon dioxide from fossil fuel use and methane from agricultural sources and landfills. These gases trap more energy and increase the overall temperature of the planet. This effect is commonly referred to as climate change.

The impacts of climate change can be seen around the world with increasing water scarcity in dry areas, torrential downpours in wet regions and more severe heat waves and wildfires. The cost to the United States economy alone could be over $200 billion from heat-related deaths, sea level rise and infrastructure damage by the end of the century.

Greenhouse gas emissions from energy production can contribute to climate change. The city of Holland has reduced greenhouse gas emissions by building a new combined-cycle natural gas power plant to replace the former coal power plant. Burning natural gas significantly reduces emissions versus coal, although natural gas is still a fossil fuel and not a sustainable resource.

Home solar panels are an effective way for an individual homeowner to trim back their carbon fuel use and impact on climate change.

However, lower emission, sustainable options such as wind and solar do not provide continuous power. At the utility level, they require large scale energy storage that is still under development. The Holland Board of Public Works uses a mix of energy sources including wind, biogas and natural gas to keep our energy portfolio diverse and able to respond to changes in fuel availability and pricing. The Board of Public Works will continue to explore more sustainable options as they become viable.
Meanwhile, you can take direct personal action to reduce emissions in simple ways that will save you money. Plug air leaks in your house to reduce heat loss. Consider installing a smart thermostat and switching to more efficient LED light bulbs.

Installing LED bulbs are a simple way to reduce energy use, save money over the long run and trim a person’s impact on climate change problems.

Want to make bigger improvements to your energy use? The Holland On-Bill Loan Program administered by the Board of Public Works provides Holland residents a way to make energy improvements to homes both easy and affordable.
The program provides a home energy assessment that gives you an understanding of your home’s energy efficiency and provides a prescription for the necessary improvements. Find out more about the program at https://hollandenergyfund.com/on-bill-loan-program/

 Diane Haworth is a retired sustainability professional.  After a career in product development, purchasing and marketing, she transitioned to develop and manage the global sustainability program for furniture manufacturer Haworth.  She later helped develop the sustainability program for certification body NSF in Ann Arbor.

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.

Living Sustainably: Early learning skills are crucial to youngsters, community

By Kate Flynn, Ready for School

Gaining confidence, as earned through the Start School Ready program, can be a valuable asset for a young person heading off to school.

What the caterpillar calls the end, the rest of the world calls a butterfly.” Lao Tzu
Watch a group of very young children engaged in studying insects. What are they learning?
Fundamental concepts about the natural and social world, and discovering those answers by observing habitats, journaling and researching alongside their peers. They’re practicing social skills while laying the groundwork for deeper learning, critical thinking skills, and problem solving.
To sustain growth of a vibrant economic future, seeds of community and a love of learning must be planted early. Ready for School’s Start School Ready is a perfect example.
Last summer I watched my own son, Will, thrive during Start School Ready, a program designed to ease soon-to-be kindergartners and their families into the transition to school. Success lies in creating an environment that supports early learning by building relationships: Relationship to routine, to academics, and to people (teachers, fellow students and staff).

Learning to work with others and develop relationships is part of summer learning experience, too.

In the Bumblebee room, his teachers combined the routines of a typical school day with outdoor exploration to build math, literacy and social-emotional skills, translating experiences into increased school readiness. Insects like roly poly pill bugs made learning real in the summer and relevant into kindergarten.
A week into kindergarten, Will declared his desire to “pass” on school. Even with the positive experience of Start School Ready, he was struggling. “Will, keep trying and trust me on this, it will get better.” With mom credibility on the line, it had to get better.
A month into the school year, I shared with him a memory: “When I was in kindergarten, there were two boys in my class who didn’t know how to tie their shoelaces. I practiced with them every morning.” He was listening. “Will, what if a classmate is counting on you to show up? What if you go to school to teach and learn?” His big, thoughtful brown eyes locked in on me. A heartbeat later, Will responded, “Like Alaina at Start School Ready! When she was sad I found her a roly poly bug, and it made her happy again.”

Start School Ready helps young people learn the essential skills for doing well at school, including getting familiar with routines, with learning and with other people.

Suddenly there it was, a breakthrough that has carried us both through a critical year of kindergarten. Will is now rolling into first grade even more confident and loving learning and school every day.
School readiness is about routine, academic, and relationship readiness. The return on investment is shared moments of discovery and the pleasure of teaching and learning something relevant and interesting.
My son lives in a community that elevates early childhood learning, and it has made all the difference. We have to co-create environments for our children to thrive. How? By ensuring opportunities for relevance in learning all year round.
And by increasing access to early learning opportunities and experiences like Start School Ready, our youngest citizens reach kindergarten better prepared for success in kindergarten, year-round and in life.
Do you know a soon-to-be kindergartener? Learn more and apply to attend this summer at startschoolready.org!

 As chief development officer at Ready for School, Kate Flynn is lead storyteller of ways our community is elevating early learning and investing in the potential of all children.

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

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

Living Sustainably: Two programs help share the blessing of fresh produce

By Lisa Uganski, Ottawa Food

Using the specially labeled buckets, patrons at participating area U-pick farms can provide fresh produce for people who normally wouldn’t have access to it.

Summer is almost here, which means it’s time to enjoy the fresh fruits and vegetables grown here in West Michigan. There is nothing quite like the taste of a just-picked blueberry or tomato. However, many members of this community don’t have access to the juicy strawberries, sweet corn and the abundance of other fresh local produce that so many look forward to each year.  Fortunately, you can help provide these healthy items to those in need by participating in one of the following programs, and you’ll be supporting local growers at the same time. It’s a win-win!

Purchasing a bucket of U-pick produce for the Ottawa Food program will benefit people who don’t normally have access to fresh produce.

Pick for Pantries: Ottawa Food will partner with some local growers again this summer to implement Pick for Pantries. This program allows U-Pick patrons at participating local produce farms to donate a portion of their pick to local food pantries (and other food resource agencies) on select dates during the growing season.

You can head out to Visser Farm’s U-Pick Strawberry Patch (7200 112th Ave., Holland) on June 11, 13, 18, 20, 22, 25 and 27 (weather permitting) to pick your own fresh strawberries and help support local food pantries in the process.

Just grab a green bucket with the Ottawa Food logo and fill it up with as much as you would like to donate. Buckets will be set aside and picked up by one of several participating food resource agencies, and the berries will be distributed to community members in need.

In July, Pick for Pantries will take place at Bowerman Blueberries, Crossroads Blueberries and Rasch Orchards (cherries).

In the fall, Pick for Pantries will take place at Rasch Orchards and Grange Fruit Farm, where apples can be picked and donated. Specific dates for these opportunities will be posted later in the summer and fall at www.facebook.com/OttawaFoodCouncil, based on weather and farm availability.  Please visit Ottawa Food’s Facebook page throughout the growing season for more information.  Help spread the word by sharing this information with family and friends as well.

Fresh produce bought at the Holland Farmers Market can be provided to people in need through Ottawa Foods Produce Donation Program.

Produce Donation Program: You can also get involved by participating in Ottawa Food’s Produce Donation Program at the Holland Farmers Market.
Every Wednesday from June 19 to Sept. 18, a donation table will be staffed at the market from 9 a.m. to 1:30 pm. Stop by and pick up a donation bag at the Ottawa Food table. When you’re finished shopping, bring your produce donation back, and it will be distributed to those in need within 48 hours.
We are blessed to live in an area that harvests such a wide variety of fresh, healthy food. Please consider helping to make our community a stronger, healthier one by sharing this local food with others!

 Lisa Uganski, RD, MPH, is the coordinator of Ottawa Food, a collaboration of local agencies and individuals working to ensure that all Ottawa County residents have access to healthy, local, and affordable food choices. If you would like to get involved with Ottawa Food, please visit www.OttawaFood.org for more information.

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

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.

Living Sustainably: Bike Holland rides offer fun cycling intro

By Jenny White, Bike Holland
The third annual Bike Holland Series kicked off at the Green Commute Expo back in May, but the rides will continue to roll out from Velo City Cycles every other month through September.

Maybe you want to meet more people in town, or want to get more exercise, or want to lower your carbon footprint, or want to learn more about riding your bike safely around town in the comfort of a group setting?  Whatever your reason, this ride is for you!

The City of Holland created a 40-Year Community Energy Plan with the goal to reduce the city’s per-capita greenhouse gas emissions from the baseline level of 24 metric tons in 2010 down to 10 metric tons by 2050.  One of the target areas of the plan includes reducing fuel used for transportation.

Photo courtesy City of Holland

The goal of Bike Holland is to educate community members about the benefits of commuting by bike. Bike commuting is a great way to make our community more sustainable – economically, socially, and environmentally – and empower people to feel safe and comfortable riding around the community.

We want to get community members to unplug, get outdoors, get healthier, and spend time with friends and family by hopping on a bike for their next trip!

Photo courtesy City of Holland

At previous rides, 30 to 80 cyclists have joined in. We estimate that around 150 individual riders have been involved so far.  If the group is large, we split into smaller groups for safety and also to accommodate shorter ride options for children and less experienced riders.  Participant ages have ranged from 6 months to 80 years. We recommend that kids be 7 years or older to ride on their own.

All types of cyclists and bikes are welcome. You must bring your own bike. Helmets are required for this casual and social ride.

“Through attending Bike Holland rides, I not only solved my problem of learning good places and routes to ride, but I also met many local cyclists who I now ride with regularly three years later,” said Martin Harris, a Holland resident, Herman Miller employee and cycling enthusiast.

Before hitting the road, be sure to check out the city’s website at   www.cityofholland.com/bikeholland for videos, tips, rules of the road, and resources for bikers.  For additional information and resources about biking in Holland visit the Macatawa Area Coordinating Council’s website at www.the-macc.org/transportation/nonmotorized/.

The remaining Bike Holland downtown ride dates are the following Mondays:  June 10, Aug. 12, and Sept. 9. Rides start at Velo City, 326 S. River Ave., Holland. Arrive early enough to be ready for roll out at 6:00 p.m.

 Jenny White is co-owner of Velo City Cycles and Bike Holland organizer.

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.

Living Sustainably: The right gear can “green up” your summer picnics

By Emily Hamilton ’19, Holland-Hope Sustainability Institute Intern
Memorial Day is here, and I don’t know about you, but my family always has a huge picnic to celebrate the kickoff to summer!

Keeping the right gear on hand can make your holiday picnics and other summer events that much more “green” and sustainable.

This is a time when many of us are grilling out, hosting parties, and enjoying the outdoors with our families. As you plan your Memorial Day picnic or other get-togethers, keep in mind ways that you can make your event more sustainable.
Over the years, my family has done many things to lessen our picnic’s impact on the environment.
One of the ways that we do this is to avoid using single-use items. For instance, we use the same oil-cloth table clothes every year, instead of plastic ones. We have designated “picnic silverware” that is an assortment of mismatched, second-hand metal utensils we specifically use for these events. If a fork gets
lost, it isn’t a big deal, and this reduces the amount of plastic used.
Additionally, we encourage people to bring their own water bottles, and we provide a water dispenser as opposed to offering plastic water bottles.
Of course, it is difficult to completely avoid single-use items. However, you can easily cut down on plastic by purchasing aluminum cans and glass bottles.  Cans and bottles are easily recycled, but make sure your guests know where they can recycle during the event. My family provides separate bins for recycling that are clearly labeled. We write a sign that designates the receptacles for cans and bottles.
Image result for summer picnic and freeWe also might use disposable plates, but we make sure they are paper plates or ones that are compostable. You can purchase sugar-cane plates online that are entirely biodegradable.

Stay away from Styrofoam and plastic whenever you can. If you do use single-use plastic cups, provide a marker so that guests can keep track of their cup and beverage. This will cut down on the number of cups used by each person.
The menu is also important to consider when planning a sustainable summer barbeque.
Burgers and brats are almost synonymous with grilling out, but beef is not the best for the environment. Large amounts of resources, such as water, go into producing beef. Cutting back on your consumption of beef products is an easy way to lessen your environmental footprint. Consider serving grilled chicken and vegetables.
If you do choose to serve meat, “shop local” from a local butcher shop.
No matter what you are serving, consider buying it from your local farmer’s market. Having farm fresh fruit and vegetables is not only tasty, the waste is compostable too.
And when cooking the food, it is best to use a propane gas grill with a cover on it, since charcoal grills emit much more carbon dioxide.
With these tips, I hope you can plan and enjoy your sustainable summer party!

 Emily Hamilton is a recent Hope College graduate who received her degree in environmental management. She has worked with the campus Green Team and the Holland-Hope Sustainability Institute. She hopes to continue advocating for the environment and sustainable choices in a future career.

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.

Living Sustainably: Dig them tulips! Program helps plant community pride

By Jodi Syens, Holland in Bloom
Image result for holland in bloomDo you really dig the tulips? Well, here’s the chance – to dig ‘em up, that is.
The annual Tulip Dig, sponsored by the City of Holland and Holland in Bloom, is scheduled this year for 9 to 11:30 am. Saturday, June 1. Participants are encouraged be there when it starts, as bulbs run out quickly.
To join in, head to one of three city facilities and dig out tulip bulbs to take home for replanting. The locations are: Window on the Waterfront, at Sixth Street between College and Columbia avenues; Centennial Park, at 10th Street between River and Central Avenues; and the three tulip fields at Windmill Island Gardens. The cost for participation is $10 for a five-gallon bucketful. Participants must provide all necessary supplies, such as the bucket, shovel, and gardening gloves.

The public is invited to come and dig up this year’s tulip bulbs to recycle them into their gardens and sustain the community beauty.

Those planning to dig tulips simply must check in and pay at the chosen park, have their bucket tagged, and receive instructions before starting to dig. Tulips may only be dug on the date and times specified, with no digging prior to the 9 a.m. start! Maps and FAQ’s with additional instructions are posted on www.hollandinbloom.com and the Holland in Bloom Facebook event page.
The city annually plants in excess of 400,000 quality tulip bulbs purchased directly from the Netherlands. In some areas, such as these three prominent city parks, the bulbs are replanted every year.
Prior to 2013, these bulbs were simply dug up or mulched into the ground in preparation for planting new bulbs in the fall. Holland in Bloom proposed that people be given the opportunity to dig up the bulbs and take them home for replanting. The Tulip Dig not only assists the city’s Parks Division staff, who are busy getting tulip beds replanted with summer annuals, but also provides participants with quality tulip bulbs.

A shovel, pail and strong back – and $10 – are all that’s needed to claim a bucketful of this year’s fading tulips.

Holland in Bloom celebrates “the pride planted in our community” through a variety of sustainability and beautification efforts.
The city participated in the America in Bloom National Competition from 2011 through 2016, receiving a 5-out-of-5-bloom rating as well as an Outstanding Achievement Award in one of the six criteria categories in each of those six years. Holland also won the top award in our population category for five years (2011-2015).
In 2017, Holland competed in the Communities in Bloom International Competition, winning the Large Communities category and receiving a 5-bloom silver rating.
Last year, Holland in Bloom focused on supporting significant community efforts such as “The Oz Project” and the urban tree inventory. And it has again entered the America in Bloom National Competition for 2019, so that these and many other important efforts can be highlighted.

  Jodi Syens is a member of the Holland in Bloom Committee and has been involved in the program since it was started in 2011.

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.

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.