Living Sustainably: New Park Passport encourages nature exploration with prizes

By Dan Callam ’09, Outdoor Discovery Center Macatawa Greenway
Has your family been on an adventure recently?
There’s no need to wait until spring break or for a road trip to a warm, far-off destination. Your local nature centers are encouraging families to explore spaces around them in 2019 by visiting nearby parks with their new Park Passport as their guide.
We bet even the most enthusiastic park explorers haven’t been to all of our community’s parks. We had a hard time narrowing the list down for the passport! Parks are one of the things that make our community a great place to live and are a benefit to people of all ages and abilities. Plus, you can visit most of them any month of the year!
You can find a copy of the Park Passport at your nearest nature center or library to begin your journey. Highlighted inside the passport are 14 local parks in the greater Holland/Zeeland area that are worth a visit. Each page has a list of attractions and amenities, as well as a Challenge Question. Be on the lookout for signs at each stop that provide the answer to the Challenge Question.
Once your family has visited at least 10 of the parks and successfully answered the question, return with your completed passport to the Outdoor Discovery Center, DeGraaf Nature Center, or Hemlock Crossing Nature Center during regular business hours to claim a prize.

Ambitious families may be able to visit all of these sites over a long weekend, but you have until the end of 2019 to get all your visits completed.

 Dan Callam is Greenway manager for the Outdoor Discovery Center Macatawa Greenway.

Using the new Park Passport program?
When does the Park Passport program start?
Passports will be available Feb. 1 through the end of 2019.
Where can I get a passport?
Outdoor Discovery Center, DeGraaf Nature Center, Hemlock Crossing Nature Center, Herrick District Library.
How does it work?
Visit at least 10 parks in the guide and fill out the pages in the passport while you’re there. Return your completed passport to any participating nature center for a prize.
When should we visit the parks?
Hours for each location are listed in the passport. Most sites are open year-round, and winter can be a great time to visit!
What should we bring?
Bring your passport, clothes and footwear that can handle a little dirt and water, and as many family members you can find! A water bottle and snack are handy for longer walks, or you can bring a picnic lunch to most locations. If you have binoculars or a magnifying glass, they can help you explore things that are far away or hiding down on the ground.

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: “Sustainable literacy” is a good goal for 2019

By Michelle Gibbs, Office of Sustainability

Sustainability comes from the intersection of a balanced approach to a healthy environment, vibrant economy and equitable society.

With the recent turning of the new year and a new school semester starting this week, it is a great time to set a personal goal of “sustainable literacy.”
But what does this mean?  The United Nations shares that “sustainability literacy is the knowledge, skills and mindsets that allow individuals to become deeply committed to building a sustainable future and assisting in making informed and effective decisions to this end.”
Sustainability has been described in a number of ways, but the most common definition comes from the United Nations Brundtland Report (1987): “Sustainable development is development that meets the needs of the present without compromising the ability of future generations to meet their own needs.”
Another common description comes from an ancient philosophy, The Great Law of the Iroquois, which calls for thinking about the “seventh generation” – a timeframe of approximately 140 years.

With both of these descriptions, thinking about how our choices today will impact the environment and future generations, especially far into the future, is a critical piece of creating a sustainable world.
So how do we do this?  We can implement the “triple bottom line” approach and think not only about the traditional bottom line (or the dollars) impact, but also bring to light the environmental and social impacts.  The triple bottom line encompasses economics, social equity, and the environment, now and into the future.

Starting at an early age, children can learn about the natural world as well as about their community and how they are a part of both of these systems – and start gaining sustainable literacy.

Sustainability is an important concept for everyone to apply and is really “K to gray learning.”
Starting at an early age, children can learn about the natural world as well as their community and how they are a part of both of these systems.  As we get older, we can learn about ways our daily choices have an impact on others and the planet, and we can make more thoughtful choices.

 

“When we see land as a community to which we belong, we may begin to use it with love and respect,” said the great naturalist Aldo Leopold.

Kids and adults can plug into sustainable literacy in Holland in many ways, including:
 Get outside and take classes at one of our amazing local parks or nature centers.
 Kiddos can participate in summer camps offered by Hope College’s ExploreHope Program.
 Participate in local, state, and national government decisions.
 Head to Herrick District Library or one of our great local bookstores to find reading materials.
 Learn more about Holland’s Sustainability Framework at
www.cityofholland.com/sustainability and the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals at https://sustainabledevelopment.un.org/sdgs.

 Attend the monthly “Living Sustainably Along the Lakeshore” events. Save the date for the following spring events:

o Feb. 5, 6:30 p.m. at Herrick District Library — Environment (stormwater,
climate change, and resilient communities)
o March 5, 6:30 p.m. at Herrick — Quality of Life (affordable housing in Ottawa
County)
o April 23, 6:30 p.m. at Herrick — Economics (sustainable businesses in the
greater Holland area)
o May 14, 6 p.m. at Holland Energy Park — Transportation (green commuting in
Holland including a mini green vehicle car show and bike ride)

The bottom line of sustainable literacy is, then: Get to know the natural world and your personal impacts on it, get involved in your community, and together we will create a better world.

 Michelle Gibbs is the director for the Office of Sustainability at Hope College and the director for the Holland-Hope College Sustainability Institute, a partnership between Hope, the City of Holland, and Holland Board of Public Works.

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: We can resolve to be greener in 2019

By Karen Frink ’17, Holland Hope College Sustainability Institute
As we celebrate the end of 2018 and the start of 2019, many of us list resolutions to improve our lifestyle in the coming year. What if your resolutions could help not only you but the earth and your local community, as well?
Your friends at the Holland-Hope College Sustainability Institute challenge you to consider adding green resolutions to your list.
Some green resolutions are easy to think of:
 Turn off lights when you aren’t in the room or when natural light is bright.
 Divert as much as possible of your household waste from the landfill by using recycling and composting.
 Unplug electronics that aren’t in use.
 Eliminate your use of single-use plastics such as water bottles, plastic bags, and plastic silverware.

If you need more inspiration, Holland’s seven sustainability framework categories are an excellent place to start. Below are the seven categories and some ideas in each area to consider for your resolutions:

Environmental Awareness/Action:
 Check local dashboards that report on the status of Holland’s sustainability efforts and Project Clarity’s environmental cleanup. Check out
https://hollandsustainabilityreport.org/ or http://www.macatawaclarity.org/monitoring/

Economic Development:
 Shop small local businesses to support the local economy.
 If you own a business, take the Quick Impact Assessment to see how you can save energy and otherwise be sustainable in 2019. Find it here: https://goodfor.org/about/how-to

Transportation:
 Travel on a bike. Become familiar with bike paths during Bike Holland events, which kick off at the May Living Sustainably Along the Lakeshore program.
 Walk, carpool, or use public transportation whenever possible.

Smart Energy:
 Switch your lights to LED bulbs.
 Delay switching on heat or air conditioning when not essential.
 Invest in renewable energy options – solar for your home, or electric for your car.
 Take part in Holland’s Home Energy Retrofit program. Look for “Rehabilitation Programs” under “Housing,” in the “Residents” pulldown on the city webpage:
www.cityofhollandcom .

Quality of Life:
 Transition to more clean and green food and body products. Eat fresh, organic, local, and in-season produce and eliminate products with ingredient names that you cannot read.
 If fitness is a resolution, consider a gym close to home so you can walk, run, or bike there and begin your workout before you step foot in the door.

Community knowledge:
 Regularly attend the Living Sustainably Along the Lakeshore Series to learn from local experts about sustainability topics. Check out
https://facebook.com/LivingSustainablyAlongtheLakeshore/

Community and Neighborhood:
 Volunteer for nonprofits, homeless shelters, food pantries, and beach/neighborhood clean ups.

Wishing you success in creating a green 2019!
 Karen Frink is an intern with the Holland Hope College Sustainability Institute.

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.

Living Sustainably: Checking competitors boosts economic sustainability

By Jennifer Owens, Lakeshore Advantage Image result for lakeshore advantage
The Holland area is blessed to have one of the strongest economies in the state of Michigan.
Ottawa County is the fastest growing county in Michigan over the last eight years, its population growing at a rate of 8.5 percent. Allegan County has grown at a rate of 4.5 percent over that period, making it the seventh fastest growing county in the state, according to the U.S. Census Bureau. And the Grand Rapids Metropolitan Statistical Area, of which the Holland area is part, is one of the fastest growing economies in the U.S., according to Bureau of Labor Statistics data.

Exploring what makes other communities successful, Michigan West Coast Chamber President Jane Clark and Lakeshore Advantage President Jennifer Owens are in downtown Indianapolis, outside of the Indiana Economic Development Corporation.

Given all that, it would be easy now to simply rest on our laurels. But we didn’t become the strongest region in the state by coasting. We did it by hard work.  Over the past year, the Lakeshore Advantage team looked outside our region to ensure our economic health is sustained. To do this, first we had to identify our competition. In-depth research identified four best-in-class national communities that we compete with for jobs and talent: Indianapolis, IN; Greenville / Spartanburg, SC; Nashville, Tenn; and Cleveland, OH.
One consideration was expansion of existing local companies. We know that when employers seek to expand, they often consider their current locations first. Sixty-nine percent of area employers interviewed for our 2018 Business Intelligence Report stated they have plans to expand in the next three years. Of the companies reporting plans to expand, over half have locations in other states.

These companies have a decision to make: Will they expand here, or elsewhere? In 2018, Lakeshore Advantage assisted with 27 business expansions in our region, accounting for over $235 million in private investment and 750 new jobs in our community. So, we also considered local employer concentration with out-of-state locations in choosing our comparative communities.

Michigan Economic Development Manager Bill Kratz and Lakeshore Advantage COO Angela Huesman check out public art in Spartanburg as part of exploring what makes other communities successful.

Next, we hit the road. This fall we trekked to Indianapolis and Greenville / Spartanburg, along with representatives from the West Coast Chamber and the Michigan Economic Development Corporation.  We went to size up our competition, to learn best practices of those regions for attracting people and businesses. This learning helps the Holland area continue to be a top choice for business investment and talent attraction. In the next six months, we will complete all four learning tours by visiting Nashville and Cleveland.

Here are key nuggets of economic sustainability we have learned so far from our comparisons:
Regionalism: Key is an understanding of the region’s value proposition as a whole. These communities do not stand alone; they work with partners in neighboring communities to compete for top talent.
Train for the Future: Sustainable investment is being made by the K-12 systems and community colleges to train students for jobs of the future. These programs are developed side-by-side with area business leaders to ensure they meet current and future workforce demand.
Community Building: Diversity and inclusion are necessary to build community.  Opportunities include engagement in behind-the-scenes operations at arts, entertainment and philanthropic organizations to develop leaders early and create a sense of belonging.

Collaboration, investing in local talent and placemaking are themes we see that make other regions –and our region – successful and sustainable economically. Our local economic culture is one in which these ideals thrive, which positions us for success in the future.  Though we continue to make strides in these areas, seeing our competition firsthand reminds us we can’t rest. There is still much work to be done to stay one step ahead of our competition.
 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: Recycle and reuse at the ReStore

By Stacey Korecki, Lakeshore Habitat for Humanity
Have you heard about the Holland ReStore and how it is a center of recycle and reuse activity?
The Holland ReStore is a donation center that sells materials used in home improvement projects.
Items such as new and used furniture, appliances, home accessories, building materials and more can be found in store.
The great thing is, when used building materials or household products are donated to the ReStore and then sold, that item is recycled and kept out of the landfill. For every $1 in ReStore sales, 1.3 pounds of material is kept out of your local landfill.
Habitat ReStores are independently owned and operated by local Habitat for Humanity affiliates.
The proceeds from ReStore sales are used locally to support affordable housing. The Holland ReStore supports the work of Lakeshore Habitat for Humanity which serves Ottawa and Allegan counties.
The Holland ReStore, located at 12727 Riley St., kept approximately 742,725 pounds of material out of the landfill last year, and is on pace for that same amount this year.
This ReStore is known particularly for kitchen materials sales, and has sold 35 to 40 kitchen cabinet sets! Part of the reason that kitchens are a big part of Holland ReStore’s sales is because of the deconstruction services that the store offers. Donors within the greater Holland area can call the ReStore to schedule a product pick up. The ReStore deconstruction team will come to a home and take out the items that the donor no longer needs and bring them back to the ReStore for sale. It doesn’t get much easier to donate that that.
You can support your local ReStore by shopping, donating, or even volunteering. The Holland ReStore is always looking for volunteers to help with organizing, taking in product, cleaning, customer support, merchandising, and creating new products out of items that come into the store. Some of our most popular products have been made by volunteers using donated items.
Don’t throw out that old desk! Donate it to the Holland ReStore. A volunteer may just fix it up, and someone will find that your old desk is just want they have been looking for at just the right price. You kept the desk out of the landfill and helped someone in your community.
The Holland ReStore is a great place to recycle and reuse to make Holland a more sustainable community.
 Stacey Korecki is the development coordinator for Lakeshore Habitat for Humanity in charge of events and marketing communications.  Stacey also supervises the marketing internship program which accepts two college interns each semester.

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: Unique community sustains quality of life

By Krista Mason, Benjamin’s Hope
Ben Mason was diagnosed with autism at the age of 2. As his parents, my husband Dave and I, like many parents, found that the diagnosis of autism ushered in immense uncertainty about the future. It brought questions like, “Will my child speak? Will he live independently and find purposeful work? Will
he have friends?”
Today, at 23, Ben does indeed have an extraordinary life full of friendship and purpose! Though profoundly impacted by autism, his life has inspired Benjamin’s Hope, a 40-acre “live, work, play, worship” farmstead campus on the north side of Holland, a community in which people of all abilities are transformed by the love of Christ.
Now open five years, Ben’s Hope celebrates abundant life happening in residential homes, the Life Enrichment Day Program, and through The Church of Ben’s Hope.

Hundreds of people are directly touched by Ben’s Hope each week with lives engaged in the four facets of live, work, play and worship:

  • Live: 30 men and women live at Ben’s Hope in six beautiful farm-style homes.
  • Work: More than 90 people work at Ben’s Hope as SideKicks. A SideKick provides care and support and is, by definition, “a friend, a companion in adventure.” 25 men and women participate in a weekday Life Enrichment program growing skills in gardening and animal care. Participants volunteer all over the community – at Kids Food Basket, The Holland Museum, Resthaven, to name a few.
  • Play: In late September, around 2,000 people enjoyed Harvest Festival, including
    hayrides, antique trucks, and even a helicopter! Ben’s Hope men and women are out and about town at sporting events, concerts, the library. And on Thursday nights, Ben’s Hope offers Club Connect, a super cool club for people of all abilities run by Hope College students.
  • Worship: The Church of Ben’s Hope meets every Sunday night at 6 p.m. This refreshing and wildly inclusive all-abilities worship is a great place to connect with the Ben’s Hope community.

The statistics are staggering. Today one in every 59 children will receive a diagnosis of autism, according to the Centers for Disease Control. Historically, individuals with profound disability have relied on the public health care system to provide needed housing, supports and funding. However, the reality is this: The public dollar is stretched. The need is growing. And people chronically struggle to find the support they need to live an abundant life.
Ben’s Hope relies on an engaged community and charitable support to continue its everyday extraordinary work. Each month Ben’s Hope must raise $20,000 to cover the shortfall of Medicaid.
Community giving enables the non-profit to remain debt-free while providing for nutritious food, excellent staff, a safe and beautiful campus, engaging programming, and authentic worship.
Communities everywhere are challenged to think in new and different ways about where people with autism will live, work, play and worship. Ben’s Hope is a community solution of public/private partnership that is leading the way and inspiring a bolder vision of abundant life for people with autism.
 Krista Mason, executive director and founder of Benjamin’s Hope – and Ben’s mom.

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.

LIVING SUSTAINABLY: Have yourself a merry greener Christmas!

By Anthony Aragon Orozco, Hope College Green Team

The holidays are upon us! Which is also the time we might panic, wondering what am I going to get for who, how will I decorate the house, and what on earth will I make to eat for the holidays this year?

I’m sure we all have our yearly traditions and have grown used to certain ways of doing things, but have you asked yourself if what you are doing is worth the expense of harming this wonderful planet we all know and love?

Maybe we can think about starting new traditions this year that can make the holidays greener – healthier for the planet and for us.

Here are some facts to ponder:

  • Americans throw away 25 percent more trash between Thanksgiving and New Year’s Eve.
  • 35 percent of Americans have unused presents sitting in their closets.
  • About half of the paper consumed in America is used to wrap presents and consumer products.

In light of that, consider these tips for having a greener holiday:

Holiday cards and gifts

  • Consider upgrading your family’s holiday card by sending e-cards this year.
  • If you do buy paper cards, consider purchasing one that provides a donation to a favorite charity.
  • Buy gifts locally to support your local businesses and the local economy.
  • Consider gifting a membership to an organization of the person’s interest or an online magazine.
  • When buying electronics, look for energy efficient models, normally tagged with an Energy Star label by the EPA.

Packaging/ Gift Wrapping

  • Reuse any boxes or bags that you kept from previous gifts.
  • Put gifts in reusable packaging such as bags, baskets, or fabric wrappers.
  • Find gift wrap that is made with post-consumer recycled content.

Holiday Decorations

  • Consider buying a live tree with a root ball, native to the area, that can be planted in your yard after Christmas.
  • If you plan to purchase or already have an artificial tree, be sure to use it for as many years as possible.
  • Consider using few or no lights in your decorations.
    Invest in energy efficient LED lights, which can use up to 90 percent less energy and can last up to 100,000 hours.
  • Make your own decorations using items at home or purchased from local businesses.

Have a Green Holiday Dinner

  • Buy from your local farm market and research healthy recipe alternatives.
  • Buy beverages and snacks in bulk to avoid unnecessary packaging.
  • Serve food in washable/reusable plates and utensils.
  • Consider heart healthy dishes.

Have a Merry – and green – Christmas and a sustainable New Year!

Anthony Aragon Orozco is a first-year engineering major at Hope College and an intern with the Hope College Green Team, which works towards creating a more sustainable community, on and off-campus, through outreach and education.

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: Recycle, get new Christmas lights and save at Light Exchange

By Morgan Kelley, Holland Board of Public Works
Did you know holiday string lights cannot be recycled in everyday recycling?
Light strings not only contain a large amount of rubber and plastic, and sometimes glass, but also copper. These materials do not biodegrade easily, and copper is a valuable metal.
But by participating in the Holiday Light Exchange hosted by the Holland Board of Public Works, you are helping to reduce landfill waste.
The Holiday Light Exchange is 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. on Friday, Nov. 30, in the Holland Board of Public Works Customer Service lobby at 625 Hastings Ave., Holland. BPW customers can come and exchange old incandescent holiday string lights for new Energy Star-certified LED strings of lights.
Old lights will be properly recycled at Padnos Recycling. Each Holland BPW electric customer is eligible for up to two new LED strings, provided that two or more old strings are turned in. These LED strings meet the strict energy efficiency requirements for the Energy Star certification program, set by the
U.S. Environmental Protection Agency. In addition, each customer will receive a nightlight and be able to choose a floodlight or a regular light bulb.
Christmas lighting began as candles perched on Christmas tree limbs in 17th  century Germany. Once the light bulb was created in the 19th  century, string lights followed fairly quickly. The tradition of elaborate string light decoration developed throughout the 20th  century.

A 2008 U.S. Department of Energy study found that decorative holiday lighting accounts for 6.6 billion kilowatt hours of electricity consumption across the country. This equates to running 14 million refrigerators and exceeds the total electric consumption of many developing countries.
That energy use can be trimmed. In recent years, Americans have switched to LED string lights, which use at least 70 percent less energy than incandescent strings.
In addition, unlike incandescent lights, LED strings do not have filaments, which can heat up and burn out. LED strings of lights last much longer, are sturdier, emit little to no heat, and still have a warm glow.
They also save you energy and, therefore, money, are safer overall, and are better for the environment. The DOE states that a single strand of LED lights can last up to 40 years. And it costs 27 cents to light a 6-foot tree for 12 hours a day for 40 days with LEDs versus $10 for incandescent string lights. In addition, up to 25 strings can be connected without shorting a circuit due to their efficiency.
Holland BPW customers recycled 237 pounds of string lights in 2016, and 661 pounds in 2017. Help us make it to 700 pounds recycled this year! See you Nov. 30.
 Morgan Kelley is conservation programs specialist at Holland Board of Public Works and leads the residential energy waste reduction and water conservation programs.

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: You Can Stomp out a Smaller Carbon Footprint

By Karey Frink’18, Intern for the Holland-Hope College Sustainability Institute

Many factors make up each person’s carbon footprint, as shown in this illustration. Source: Ohio State University Extension

Carbon footprint.  This is term we are hearing used more often, but what really does that mean?
Carbon footprints are often thought about in terms of transportation habits. However, every person’s carbon footprint is comprised of much more.
Here’s a complete definition from the Environmental Protection Agency’s Student’s Guide to Global Climate Change: A carbon footprint is,“The total amount of greenhouse gases that are emitted into the atmosphere each year by a person, family, building, organization, or company. A person’s carbon footprint includes greenhouse gas emissions from fuel that he or she burns directly, such as by heating a home or riding in a car. It also includes greenhouse gases that come from producing the goods or services that the person uses, including emissions from power plants that make electricity, factories that make products, and landfills where trash gets sent.”
Did you know that you can actually estimate your carbon footprint? Calculators can measure a variety of variables to reach a good estimation of your total annual carbon consumption.
To calculate your individual carbon footprint, The Nature Conservatory has a simple to use, free calculator at www.nature.org/en-us/get-involved/how-to-help/consider-your-impact/carbon-calculator/. It takes into account travel, home, food, and shopping habits, and will report your carbon footprint in tons of carbon dioxide per year. It also will show how you rank compared to the average consumer.
Once you understand what your impact is, you can consider ways to reduce it. The same Nature Conservatory website has recommendations for reducing your transportation, household and shopping impact.
More locally, the Holland-Hope College Sustainability Institute website, hope.edu/sustainability-institute, includes resources to help community members reduce their environmental impact. These resources include information about Holland’s Home Retrofit Program, greening your commute, as well as looking local first when buying things.
Ultimately, the quickest and most significant step to reduce your carbon footprint is to reduce or eliminate consumption where possible. Purchasing less, changing your diet, unplugging unused electronics, and utilizing natural light can quickly reduce carbon impact.

This chart shows the sources of greenhouse gases in the Holland community’s carbon footprint. The total of 735,200 metric tons in 2015 is down from 795,200 in 2010.
Source: Holland 40-Year Community Energy Plan

The City of Holland is also monitoring the whole community’s impact in terms of greenhouse gases as part of its 40 Year Community Energy Plan efforts. Find out more at https://www.cityofholland.com/sustainability/holland-community-energy-plan. In 2010, Holland’s carbon footprint was 24 metric tons per capita. By 2015, it was down to 22 tons. With the impact of reductions at the Holland Energy Park, that 2017 number is estimated to have gone down to 17 tons.

Information about Hope College’s Carbon Footprint can be found here:  https://hope.edu/offices/sustainability/campus-sustainability/greenhouse-gas-inventory.html

So why should you care?  Monitoring your individual impact will give you power over your consumption habits. It’s easy to think that our individual impacts may seem insignificant. However, collectively as a society, as we make these changes, we will start to see the impact of these changes.
 Karey Frink is an intern for the Holland-Hope College Sustainability Institute and will be graduating from Hope College in December with a degree in communication and a minor in environmental science.

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: Living Sustainably program will sort out recycling questions

By Michelle Gibbs, Office of Sustainability
Quick quiz: Which of these items can you recycle in Holland’s yellow curbside recycling bags?

  1. Plastic milk carton
  2. Paper milk carton
  3. Paper
  4. Junk mail
  5. Styrofoam cups
  6. Plastic bags
  7. Cereal boxes
    Think you know?
    The answers may surprise you.
    For example, while plastic milk cartons can be recycled at the city of Holland’s waste hauler Republic Services, lids cannot. Neither can paper milk cartons (although third-party recyclers such as TerraCycle can). For the rest of the answers, keep reading.
    Want to know more about what can and cannot be recycled in the City of Holland? “Stump Our Recycling Chumps!” is coming to Herrick District Library – and Facebook Live – in the next Living Sustainably Along the Lakeshore presentation. The public is encouraged to bring their toughest recycling questions to see if they can stump Holland’s local experts.
    The recycling initiatives and sorting practices of Republic, the new city-wide waste hauler will also be discussed.
    The evening will kick off with a short presentation on the new waste-hauling contract between the city of Holland and Republic as well as about new international rules and how they impact people locally.
    Then it will be time for members of the in-person and online audiences to “stump our recycling chumps.”
    The panel of “chumps” will be:
    Aaron Thelenwood – City of Holland solid waste/recycling and sustainability coordinator;
    Ken Freestone, Angela Fox and Dan Boersma – co-founders of greenmichigan.org;
    Tom Mahoney – Republic Services general manager.
    And now the answers to the quiz: What can be recycled in the city of Holland’s curbside program?
    Paper, junk mail and cereal boxes are all OK! Styrofoam cups and plastic bags don’t belong in the city’s yellow recycling bags, although many grocery stores accept the grocery bags for recycling.
    Want to know more?
    Stump Our Recycling Chumps!, from 6:30 p.m. to 8 p.m. Tuesday, Nov. 13, will have all the answers. Participate in person or on Facebook, where the event will live stream over the Living Sustainably Along the Lakeshore Facebook page.
    This event also is part of Holland’s annual participation in the “America Recycles Day.” Go to americarecyclesday.org/ to learn more. And go to www.cityofholland.com/solidwasteandrecycling for more about City of Holland recycling.
     Michelle Gibbs is director of the Office of Sustainability at Hope College and director of Holland-Hope College Sustainability Institute.

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.