Living Sustainably: Good business is doing good for the community

By Hanna Schultz, People First Economy
It’s 2019, and with the new year comes inspiration, a renewed sense of purpose, and the added drive to become the best version of yourself you can be.
So, why would your approach to your business be any differently? This last year has seen economic growth and opportunity for many businesses, and it has also uncovered a desire for many businesses to embrace their values in a different, more meaningful way.
In West Michigan, many businesses align their practices with the values that the owners and employees hold dear in everyday life. This is among the reasons that locally owned businesses are statistically more philanthropic, environmentally responsible, and intentional toward community engagement. Many of these values have been more or less “unspoken” for many years, even generations, as the businesses themselves have grown or gone through seasons of change.
The Good For Michigan program wants to help businesses institutionalize and benchmark their impact, while providing real-time data that tracks all of the positive effects that the business has on the environment, their employees, and the community as a whole.

Good For Michigan offers resources for businesses that want to learn and do more for their communities. These opportunities include educational workshops. Details for upcoming events can be found at goodfor.org/events.
The crux of the program is the Quick Impact Assessment, which is a tool that any business can use to get a snapshot that measures and quantifies the positive impact it is making in its local community. The assessment (or the QIA, as it’s fondly called) is free for any business to take, and the information gathered is confidential.
The QIA is a 60-minute assessment that measures dozens of best practices for employee, community and environmental impact. Business owners can also see how they compare to other businesses nationally.
This assessment is ideal for business owners who are interested in learning about how they can use their business to make a positive social and environmental impact in their community.  Businesses of all sizes and industries are invited to participate.
A diverse range of West Michigan businesses are already participating in Good For Michigan, from engineering firms to a breweries to restaurants, housing development companies, design firms and more.
Visit www.goodfor.org for more information or to take the Quick Impact Assessment for your business.
You can help keep the business community in West Michigan a leader in responsible business practices!

 Hanna Schulze is development manager at People First Economy, the organization that runs the Good For Michigan program. Hanna has worked in economic development for over five years and finds the most value in her work when she can help small business owners grow their business intentionally using sustainable principles.

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.

Happening: A Clean Energy Revolution – Thursday, February 21

Please join the Macatawa Creation Care Group on Thursday, February 21 in Graves Hall for a film screening of “Happening: A Clean Energy Revolution.”

Doors open at 5:45, and the film starts at 6:00. The film will be followed by a panel of representatives from the City Of Holland, Holland Board of Public Works, and West Michigan Community Sustainability Partnership.

View the trailer here: https://happeningthemovie.com/

““I know it’s going to change because when I talk to young people, they are not even questioning that it’s happening, they just understand it.  I feel like it’s just happening.”  Lisa Jackson Vice President Environment, Policy, and Social Initiatives, Apple Inc.”

SYNOPSIS:  Filmmaker James Redford embarks on a colorful personal journey into the dawn of the clean energy era as it creates jobs, turns profits, and makes communities stronger and healthier across the US. Unlikely entrepreneurs in communities from Georgetown, TX to Buffalo, NY reveal pioneering clean energy solutions while James’ discovery of how clean energy works, and what it means at a personal level, becomes the audiences’ discovery too. Reaching well beyond a great story of technology and innovation, “Happening” explores issues of human resilience, social justice, embracing the future, and finding hope for our survival.

Living Sustainably: Film examines troubling issue of poverty

By Cameron Geddes, Hope College Markets & Morality
Image result for hope college markets and moralityThe great specter of the modern age is shapeless, manifesting in a menagerie of forms: Fathers unable to keep a roof over the heads of their sons. Mothers having only empty pantries to offer their daughters. Neighbors squabbling over property that rises just above worthless.
Poverty is the English word for the ageless struggle that has left great minds troubled. Institutions such as Hope College have deployed organizations seeking to understand and explain the nature of it.

And on Feb. 4, Hope College student group Markets & Morality will be featuring a masterpiece film asking the question of how to eliminate poverty. The film is aptly titled “The Pursuit.”
Arthur Brooks was once a professional man of music. He chose to chase after a question that societies so often answer incorrectly, as his film puts it: “How can we lift up the world, starting with those at the margins of society?” This set him on the path to joining the prestigious non-partisan think tank the American Enterprise Institute. Since 1943 the organization has solicited politicians and academics alike “dedicated to defending human dignity, expanding human potential, and building a freer and safer world.”
Brooks holds several degrees, including a Ph.D and a M. Phil. in policy analysis, which he received from the Pardee RAND Graduate school. His work as a professor, consultant, doctoral fellow, and New York Times opinion writer have all tied into his position as president at American Enterprise Institute, where he is set to be succeeded by Robert Doar in July.
“The Pursuit” follows Brooks as he travels the world, looking to examine and demonstrate just how those most in need of economic assistance can be helped. This takes him from Mumbai to Kentucky, from Barcelona to New York City, and even to a Himalayan Buddhist monastery.
“Markets & Morality as a whole has been working very hard to bring light to the issues of poverty around the world and how we as a society can effectively bring relief,” said Camryn Zeller, a sophomore member of the group.
“(Brook’s film) highlights this same goal and intention for the majority of poverty alleviation efforts, and (it) challenges his viewers and himself to find what actually works. He identifies poverty as more than a lack of material possessions, but the lack of opportunity to have and pursue dreams.”
The showing is set for Monday, Feb. 4 at 7 p.m., with free admission at the Knickerbocker Theatre.
Hope economics Professor Stephen Smith will give an introduction to the fil m, with a reflection at the end by Hope Chaplain of discipleship the Rev. Jennifer Ryden.

“The Pursuit” – a film and discussion about eliminating poverty
When: 7 p.m., Monday, Feb. 4
Where: The Knickerbocker Theater, 86 East 8th St., Holland,
Cost: Free

 Cameron Geddes is a Hope College sophomore majoring in economics and international studies as well as a second-year member of Markets & Morality and a staff writer for student-newspaper The Anchor.

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: Session will tell about saving our lakes from runoff

By Kyle Hart and Matt Belanger, West Michigan Environmental Action Council
The Great Lakes contain 20 percent of all available freshwater on the surface of the Earth, and stormwater pollution is the number one threat to the quality of that water.
In February, the Living Sustainably Along the Lakeshore series will start off the year with a presentation from the West Michigan Environmental Action Council (WMEAC) regarding stormwater issues created in urban communities.

The summer blooms in the rain garden at Hope Church in Holland show protecting the Big Lake can be beautiful as well as sustainable. Photos courtesy Macatawa Area Coordinating Council

Stormwater runoff occurs when rain or snow falls on surfaces such as buildings, sidewalks, and roads and does not soak into the ground. It “runs off” these surfaces into storm drains and waterways. It can quickly carry sediment, litter, and chemicals into bodies of water, and its impact is directly felt by lakeshore communities such as Holland.
Runoff can be managed using green solutions that treat stormwater at the source and prevent it from degrading our water quality. Those solutions might include using a rain barrel, building a rain garden, or increasing the amount of native plants and trees on your property.
Are you interested in helping protect our water? The program “Rainy Days – Causes, Problems and Solutions” will explain how to live a greener lifestyle to reduce flooding, limit property damage, save money using these sustainable stormwater strategies, and impact climate change. The program will be 6:30 to 8 p.m. Tuesday, Feb. 5, at Herrick District Library, 300 S. River Ave. in Holland.

A rain garden, such as this one at West Ottawa’s Great Lakes Elementary, gives rain and snow runoff a place to sink into the ground, keeping it from washing pollutants into waterways and lakes. Photos courtesy Macatawa Area Coordinating Council

As cities expand, the threat of stormwater runoff becomes greater each day, requiring community action to protect our freshwater resources.
Come join WMEAC and the Macatawa Area Coordinating Council at the next Living Sustainably program for an engaging workshop highlighting best practices that prevent stormwater from running off, collecting harmful pollution, and flooding our community.
This discussion will help build a sustainable future for Holland and connect you with local organizations that can provide additional resources and information.
Community members are encouraged to bring questions and concerns, or to share their experiences with managing stormwater on their property.
People attending the workshop also will have a chance to win a free 55-gallon rain barrel that can be used to store rainwater, reduce flooding, and help save money on the water bill.
Visit the Living Sustainably Along the Lakeshore Facebook page for
more information. We look forward to having you join us to support our mission of empowering you to live more sustainably!

Also visit:

www.the-macc.org/watershed/watershedproject/

www.the-macc.org/watershed/stormwater/

www.wmeac.org/water/stormwater/

for more resources and information about managing stormwater on your property and about how to use sustainable solutions to protect the quality of our waters.

Rainy Days – Causes, Problems and Solutions
When: 6:30 to 8 p.m. Tuesday, February 13
Where: Herrick District Library, 300 S. River Ave., Holland
Cost: Free

 Kyle Hart is education coordinator of Teach for the Watershed at the West Michigan Environmental Action Council. Matt Belanger is the Crane Foundation endowed water fellow at WMEAC.

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: 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.