Living Sustainably: Energy seminar focuses on comfort, health, savings

By Andrea Goodell, Herrick District Library
Image result for lower the thermostatMaking your home more comfortable, healthy and cost-effective doesn’t have to break the bank.  Everyone knows the No. 1 tip: Lower your thermostat a couple of degrees in winter and raise it a couple of degrees in summer. (You won’t notice the difference, but you’ll notice the savings.)
There are dozens of no- or low-cost ways to save energy and money. Here are a few:
 Foam gaskets for electrical outlets can lower your energy bill quickly, Holland Residential Energy Advisor Ken Freestone said. Seal leaks around doors and windows, too.
 Fans are an economical way of cooling off or circulating air, but they don’t make the room itself cooler, so they should be turned off when no one is there to enjoy them. Ceiling fans should blow down in the summer to cool and up in the winter to circulate air.
 Holland Board of Public Works customers can receive free LED bulbs at one of its giveaways. The next one is Oct. 12; check the BPW’s Facebook page for details. The BPWalso offers rebates for LEDs, energy efficient appliances and other energy-saving purchases (
 Spending a little more for a programmable or smart thermostat will help control energy use.
 Change furnace filters every month and get a tune-up at least once a year. Preventative maintenance is much cheaper than repairs. It also keeps your furnace running efficiently, lowering monthly heating bills. SEMCO offers a $50 rebate for boiler or furnace tune-ups.
 Check out a free energy evaluation kit from Herrick District Library or Van Wylen Library. Each kit contains simple technology and instructions to measure your home’s humidity and energy usage and an infrared thermometer to find energy leaks.
However, these efforts are about more than just saving energy, Freestone said. “It is about making homes healthier, safer and more comfortable – and about saving energy, too.”
Learn more about doing all that at Living Sustainably Along the Lakeshore’s next event, “Comfort, Health, and Savings: Smart Energy at Home.” It begins 6 p.m. Oct. 9 at the Holland Energy Park with an expo, with the program at 6:30.
Space is limited so registration at is required.
Also at the event, Freestone will outline a grant program and financing options from the city and BPW for help with bigger energy retrofit projects, as well as low-interest financing available to anyone in Michigan.
Self-guided tours of the Energy Education Center will be available, too.
Homeowner Roy Cole, who has gone through the city’s Home Energy Retrofit program, will also speak.
“The Home Energy Retrofit program helped us cut our electricity usage by more than half,” Cole said. “The solar panels and insulation will pay for themselves in around five years. … As for the house, no more drafts, icicles on the roof, excessive humidity or dryness, or noise from the street.”
 Andrea Goodell is community relations associate at Herrick District Library.  Herrick is one of the founding members of the series.

If You Go
What: “Comfort, Health, and Savings: Smart Energy at Home.”
When: 6 p.m. Oct. 9
Where: The Holland Energy Park, 1 Energy Park Way, Holland.
Register: Required at

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.

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



September 17, 2018 — by Greg Olgers

Organizations seeking LEED certification for their construction projects have many ways to earn it, including by using regional materials. In developing the Jim and Martie Bultman Student Center, which recently received LEED Gold certification, Hope College integrated a meaningful resource from mere yards away: wood saved from venerable campus elms that were felled by a storm.

The trees were lost in a thunderstorm that caused damage throughout the Holland area in June 2011.  Hope saved the trunks and turned them into boards to be used some day in a way that commemorated the trees’ long tenure at the college.

The student center, which is in the central campus, provided the opportunity, with construction beginning in 2015 for a fall 2017 opening.  Boards from an elm estimated to have been 164 years old (older than Hope, chartered in 1866) panel the east wall of the building’s chapel.  A wall in a large, multi-use room and the wall and bench work surrounding the main lounge’s fireplace also feature wood from campus.

“The trees were present for generations as students attended Hope,” said Dr. Richard Frost, who is vice president for student development and dean of students at the college.  “The boards made from them provide a connection between the past, present and future.  Just as importantly, the wood has become a significant element in the student center being designated as a LEED Gold building.”

Image result for leed goldThe center is the second newly constructed building in a row at the college to earn LEED certification, with plans underway for a hat trick.  The Jack H. Miller Center for Musical Arts that opened in August 2015 holds LEED Silver certification, and Hope will also be seeking certification for the new Campus Ministries building that is under construction and scheduled to be completed next fall.

“Sustainability is an ongoing commitment for us, and constructing buildings with concern for the environment is an important part of that commitment,” said Kara Slater, who is director of operations at the college and is a LEED accredited professional (LEED AP).  “In the same way, the college is dedicated to exercising good stewardship in its day-to-day operations, whether it’s the water-efficient irrigation that we use across campus, installing LED lighting or through the cleaning materials that we use.”

Read the full press release here: 

Living Sustainabily: Food Waste Film – Just Eat It

By Ken Freestone and Lisa Uganski, and Ottawa Food

Filmmakers Jen Rustemeyer and Grant Baldwin created the entertaining film “Just Eat It” documenting how they lived on a diet comprised of waste food. Photo courtesy Pure Souls Media

The issue of food waste is about more than disposal of food scraps from our tables at home or uneaten food at restaurants. It is about hungry families and individuals, about wasting environmental resources during growing and processing, about over-purchasing, and about creating methane in landfills.
There are at least three levels of the food waste story – local, regional and national.
Locally, think about what you can do at home to limit your waste. “Imagine walking out of a grocery store with four bags of groceries, dropping one in the parking lot, and just not bothering to pick it up. That’s essentially what we’re doing,” says Dana Gunders, a National Resources Defense Council food scientist.
On average a U.S. consumer wastes one pound of food per day, according to the National Center for Biotechnology Information. This includes moldy or unappealing foods in our refrigerator, expired foods – although often still edible – or stale items.
Regionally, the impact of food waste is huge.
Ottawa County disposes of an estimated 23,434 tons of food waste through its municipal waste stream each year, not counting waste from agriculture and food processing operations, according to a West Michigan Sustainable Business Forum analysis. Waste food is the single largest source of material disposed of in the four landfills serving the county and amounts to approximately 17 percent of solid waste from residences and 14 percent from businesses.
Nationally, that level of waste is multiplied.
In the United States, according to the USDA Office of the Chief Economist/U.S. Food Waste Challenge, food waste is estimated to amount to 30 to 40 percent of the food supply. This amount of waste has far-reaching impacts on food insecurity for people who have difficulty accessing food, as well as for resource conservation and climate change.
Impacts include:
 Wholesome food that could help feed families in need is sent to landfills.
 The land, water, labor, energy and other inputs used in producing, processing, transporting, preparing, storing, and disposing of discarded food are pulled away from uses that may have been more beneficial to society.
 Food waste quickly generates methane, helping to make landfills the third largest source of methane in the United States.
Although few of us can have immediate impact at the global agricultural or manufacturing levels, we can make behavioral changes at home and in our local communities.  Here are a few suggestions:

  • Visit to learn how 40-plus agencies and individuals are collaboratively working to ensure access to healthy, local and affordable food. Get involved if you can!
  • Start a composting system at home, in your neighborhood, at your church or school or work with community gardens to process food scraps.
  • Redistribute edible foods to individuals, families and organizations. These could be foods gleaned from farmer’s markets, event leftovers, or grocery outlets.
    For a look inside the issue, attend the free showing of the documentary “Just Eat It: A Food Waste Story” at 7 p.m. Sept. 27 at the Knickerbocker Theater in downtown Holland.
  •  Ken Freestone is Holland’s residential energy advisor and also co-founder of, a nonprofit focused on sustainability. Lisa Uganski is a registered dietitian at the Ottawa County Department of Public Health and coordinator of Ottawa Food, a collaboration working to ensure access to healthy, local, and affordable food choices.

If You Go
What: “Just Eat It: A Food Waste Story,” an entertaining documentary on the issue of food waste
Cost: Free
When: 7 p.m. Sept. 27
Where: The Knickerbocker Theater in downtown Holland

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

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

Living Sustainably: Celebrate Local Food on the Lakeshore This Fall

By Kate Bolt,
Growing up between fields of wheat and corn in East Saugatuck, farming and living close to the food we eat has always been an important part of my life.  My parents always came home with local produce from our neighboring farms, and every year at the tractor pull down the street there was an energetic auction for fresh produce.

Locally grown and sold food is a great way to enjoy fall and help sustain our community.

Bidding high for ears of sweet corn was something I thought everyone did in every part of the country, just like we did. When I moved to town (Holland!) after college, I watched as the Holland Farmers Market grew from 15 vendors to its current 96 vendors, and I knew that my new home valued fresh, locally grown food as much as I did.

If you’re looking for ways to support your local farmers and food businesses, you’re in luck. The lakeshore is bustling with opportunities to celebrate local food this fall. Check out two of my favorites:

Holland Farmer’s Market

1. The Holland Farmers Market. It’s open every Wednesday and Saturday until Dec. 22.  It opens at 8 a.m. and you can shop until 4 p.m. at 150 W. 8th St. in Holland. Vendors carry everything from freshly picked produce and plants for your home and garden to baked goods, sweet treats, meats, eggs, cheese and much, much more.  And take this tip from an insider: shop early in the day for the best product assortment.  Vendors also accept Bridge Cards and participate in a number of other food assistance programs.

Lakeshore Fork Fest2.   Local First Lakeshore Fork Fest.  Slow down the fast September pace with this celebration of local food and drink, live art and music. Sip drinks from Coppercraft Distillery, Farmhaus Cider, Great Legs Winery, and New Holland Brewery.  Watch a live art demo by Meridith Ridl, a chef demo by Justen Bowden of Just Enjoy, groove to live music and go home with a bag full of swag.
Our list of food vendors includes Coppercraft Distillery, Fustini’s of Holland, Just Enjoy, Lemonjello’s Coffee, Pereddies Restaurant & Deli, New Holland Brewing Company, Saunders Family Bakery, and Taquizas (tacos by Botanas Pa’ty). I’m making a signature non-alcoholic mocktail with a recipe from the season’s final rhubarb and the freshest mint. There will be something there for everyone to imbibe and enjoy!
Lakeshore Fork Fest is 6:30 to 9 p.m. Thursday, Sept. 20, at Warehouse 6, 136 E. 6th St. in Holland.   Tickets are $40 presale at and will be $45 at the door. Tickets include one adult beverage plus free non-alcoholic drinks and all the food you can eat.  Get your tickets and celebrate everything local with us at Your ticket purchase supports the work of Local First of West Michigan, a non-profit that helps support locally-owned businesses.
 Kate Bolt is the owner of Lark ( and a blogger who writes about her love of food, beverage, and how they bring together community. She also is the Local First Lakeshore Fork Fest Event Coordinator.

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

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

Living Sustainably: Holland Stands Out in Governor’s Energy Excellence Awards

By Anne Saliers, Holland Board of Public Works

More finalists have been selected from Holland for the 2018 Governor’s Energy Excellence Awards than from any other city in the state.

Holland resident Roy Cole is a finalist in the Governor’s Energy Excellence Awards Best Residential Project category.

Of the 21 businesses, organizations, and individuals across the state that have been honored this year, three are from Holland, a fourth is honored because of its work in Holland, and a fifth Holland resident has been chosen for an honorable mention. The city with the second most selections was Detroit – with just two finalists.
The Energy Excellence Awards recognize the people and organizations in Michigan that have taken firm, meaningful actions to improve energy efficiency.
Focusing on energy is nothing new to Holland citizens and businesses. The city’s long-range Community Energy Plan, initiated by the Holland Community Sustainability Committee, lays out a strategy the city has been implementing with excellent results for six years.

The Holland Board of Public Works is a finalist in the Governor’s Energy Excellence Awards Best Project category for the Holland Energy Park.

The plan, devised to ensure Holland’s economic vitality, aims to reduce carbon emissions from 24 metric tons per capita to 10 metric tons by 2050. The plan has already reduced the carbon footprint by an estimated seven metric tons of carbon dioxide per capita since the 2010 baseline. Key accomplishments include the new Holland Energy Park, snowmelt expansion, utility energy efficiency education and incentives, the creation of Holland Energy Fund as a 501(c)3 non-profit corporation, and the development of the Home Energy Retrofit and On-Bill Loan Programs.
Next up is the renovated Civic Center, which will be heated by, would you believe, the snowmelt system! It’s a form of “district heating” using waste heat from power generation to heat the building. The snowmelt system serves as the transmission line that gets the heat to the building.
Other people are taking note of our progress and progressiveness, including the governor. He will announce the eight category award winners at an invitation-only event in Grand Rapids on Sept. 5.

Here are Holland’s finalists:
Best Projects – Residential: Roy Cole (Robert Katrinic received honorable mention).
Best Project – Public: Holland Board of Public Works for Holland Energy Park.
Contractor of the Year: WMGB Home Improvement for all the home energy efficiency retrofits in Holland.
Best Program: Holland Board of Public Works for its Residential Energy Performance Labeling Pilot Program.

The Governor’s Energy Excellence Awards honor Michigan individuals and organizations that have made reducing energy waste and implementing energy-efficient practices part of their everyday lives.
Congratulations to these finalists and to the Holland community!

 Anne Saliers is community energy services manager at Holland Board of Public Works. She leads the conservation and energy waste reduction programs for the utility, including the On-Bill Loan Program, and the implementation of Holland’s long-range Community Energy Plan.

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.

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

Living Sustainably: Think local for vacations with sustainable impact

By Hannah Schulze, Local First of West Michigan
One sure-fire way to guarantee yourself an A+ when it comes to planning your family vacation is to emphasize unique, exciting experiences that will result in priceless memories for years to come.
And a way to add to those experiences is the human connection that can be gained by interacting with the local business community in other places or here at home, whether you are exploring far-flung dream locales or building a deeper connection to your hometown. That local connection also will ultimately contribute to the environmental and social well-being of the place you’re in.

Here are a couple guidelines to keep in mind:

Check out the local grub: Food culture is one of the best ways to connect to a new place or to discover a new facet to your own city. Everyone eats!
Look for restaurants that purchase produce from local farms, as a deeper connection to growers often means that the business is intentional about its impact on the environment. Farm-to-table doesn’t have to mean a higher price-tag, either. Check out the food truck scene at the Grand Haven, Holland, or Muskegon farmers markets for a diverse cultural tour of fresh, locally-made snacks that won’t break your vacation budget.

Dive in to community spaces: Food is a universal connector, but you can also find that connection to a place through art, music, and history. Local art galleries, museums, and libraries are often inexpensive or free to enjoy and can give you a window into the values and culture of the place you’re in.
The Armory Building in Grand Haven is a collaborative space shared by a brewery (Grand Armory Brewing Company), a coffee shop (Aldea Coffee), a casual BBQ restaurant (Righteous BBQ), and an educational art exhibition space that serves as a gathering place for locals and visitors alike.
Stop in to the Herrick District Library in Holland or Loutit Public Library in Grand Haven to browse the shelves or log in to learn about how previous generations enjoyed your new favorite vacation spot.
You might find something surprising!

Overall, local businesses and organizations give more per capita to charity, have smaller environmental footprints, and create living-wage jobs at a higher rate than their non-local counterparts.
So, when you seek to support local wherever you are or go, you are making the choice to invest in businesses that have a positive impact on that community. Feel proud of how you vacation – choose Local First!

 Hanna Schulze is program and fund development manager for Local First of West Michigan. Local First’s mission is development of an economy grounded in local ownership that meets the basic needs of people, builds local wealth and social capital, functions in harmony with our ecosystem, and encourages joyful community. For more information visit

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.

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

Living Sustainably: Trees add value in Holland (Hope College Biology Student Research Project)

By Katelyn DeWitt, Hope College Biology Student

Katelyn DeWitt takes the measure of Holland’s tree resources as part of the City of Holland Urban Tree Canopy Inventory.

Have you hugged a tree lately?
This summer I have been walking around Holland doing just that. In a joint project between the City of Holland and Hope College, I have been working to census all of the trees on public property in Holland by recording every tree’s trunk diameter and species. I am also assessing them for the ecological benefits that they provide to the community.
Using the information I collect, and with a software tool called iTree, I have been estimating the amount of carbon sequestered, the air pollutants removed, and the water runoff intercepted by any individual tree.

For example, a dawn redwood in Centennial Park with a diameter of 38 inches is estimated to sequester 39.6 pounds of carbon, prevent 55.5 cubic feet of water runoff, and remove 25.2 ounces of pollutants every year!

This dawn redwood in Centennial Park gives back the equivalent of $8.43 every year.

These benefits are estimated to be worth $8.43 every year to the community, just for this one dawn redwood. Moreover, that tree is just one out of 4,000 – and counting – inventoried trees in Holland. The ecological value of the 3,663 inventoried trees is $16,166 every year.
When I was walking through neighborhoods measuring trees, people were often concerned and asked me if the city is going to cut down their tree, but that was not the case. Instead, unless the tree is diseased or poses a threat, the goal is to let them grow larger, because the larger the trees grow, the more ecological benefits they produce. Holland’s urban forest is vital to creating a sustainable and comfortable environment.

The annual ecological benefits of 3,663 inventoried trees in Holland to date are shown in this chart.

Understanding that trees enhance both environmental and human health, and making an effort to preserve them, will improve Holland’s environmental impact and attractiveness.  By preserving larger trees and planting new ones, Holland residents can make an investment.

Over a tree’s lifetime, its environmental benefits far exceed the value of wood that makes up the tree. For example, 30 years from now, that dawn redwood will be able to sequester about 68 pounds of carbon annually.
So, while I continue to get to know the trees in Holland, each by name, I encourage you to get to know them too.
Plant a tree in your yard. Some great trees to consider, based on their ability to provide environmental benefits, are honey locust, river birch, northern hackberry, silver maple and swamp white oak.
If you want to know how many benefits a tree in your yard provides, go to Finally, appreciate the beauty, clean air, the lower electric bills, soil stabilization, flood reduction, and other benefits that our trees provide.
So, go hug a tree, for they help create a beautiful, sustainable, and healthy community.

City of Holland tree poster_10July18

 Hope College student Katelyn DeWitt this summer was research assistant for the City of Holland Urban Tree Canopy Inventory Project overseen by Dr. Kathy Winnett-Murray and Dr. Greg Murray of the Hope College Biology Department.

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.

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

WMEAC Blog: To Improve Energy Efficiency, Holland Turns To Equitable Financing

“Ken Freestone is the City of Holland’s Residential Energy Advisor. He helps Holland homeowners make retrofits to their homes that maximize energy efficiency, from sealing air leaks to replacing windows to installing solar panels.

First, Freestone will help an interested homeowner identify their wants, like lower utility costs or better heating. Then, he works with an auditor and contractor to help the homeowner choose a retrofit plan that meets those wants best.

Freestone also helps the homeowner choose a financial plan offered by or through Holland’s municipal utility, the Board of Public Works (BPW). Its prime financial tool is the on-bill loan.

Instead of paying upfront, homeowners can take out a low-interest loan for any retrofit and tack it onto their electric bill. No credit scores or debt-to-income ratios are needed, only 12 months of on-time electric bill payments and three years being bankruptcy-free.

Many homeowners don’t even notice the loan. Freestone says their bills are often lower than their pre-loan rate thanks to energy upgrades.

Energy upgrade assistance is made possible by a line of credit from BPW to Holland Energy Fund, a nonprofit that enables the City of Holland to achieve the goals of its Community Energy Plan. The 40-year initiative gives the city goals to cut city CO2 emissions in half and improve home energy efficiency by 50 percent.

About a decade ago, Freestone wasn’t an energy adviser but a concerned Holland resident. A BPW coal plant was right within city limits, providing most of the city’s energy needs. Freestone, other residents and groups like WMEAC wanted it gone. “There was a lot of pressure for doing something different, and as a lot of community organizations said, doing it better,” said Freestone. With air quality permit lawsuits and increasing public pressure, Holland City Council hired Garforth & Associates to conduct an energy analysis on the community.

The subsequent report became the foundation for the 2011 Community Energy Plan. The Council then approved the coal plant’s closure, the construction of a natural gas plant and the purchase of sustainable energy from three regional sites.”

Read the full article at

June 27, 2018   Beau Brockett Jr.

June 2018 Sustainability News

June 2018 Sustainability News

June 30, 2018 – Parks enrich children’s lives

June 30, 2018 – ‘Task force’ quietly planning James DeYoung vision process

June 30, 2018 – The Annual Macatawa Water Festival is right around the corner, Saturday, July 14!

June 30, 2018 – Trump claims Saudi Arabia will boost oil production

June 30, 2018 – What will become of the historic Park Township airport?

June 29, 2018 – Where you can be a kid again: Adult summer camps

June 29, 2018 – Gypsy moths are back, defoliating trees in West Michigan

June 29, 2018 – $6 Million in Bogus Organic Fruit Sold to U.S., Costa Rican Report Finds

June 28, 2018 – Letter: Community Kitchen set to reopen

June 28, 2018 – Migrant workers prove vital to local farming community

June 28, 2018 – Hundreds arrested in DC protesting Trump immigration policy

June 27, 2018 – Back-to-school readiness contributes to your child’s academic success

June 26, 2018 – 5 simple ways to green your business

June 26, 2018 – New ‘Smart Brick’ will aid in snowmelt efficiency

June 26, 2018 – Mental illness – one common language

June 25, 2018 – Living Sustainably:  Eating local – Food for thought

June 25, 2018 – Prudence Hilburn: You don’t need meat to have a complete meal

June 25, 2018 – Target, Tesco, CVS to Require Environmental Impact Data from Suppliers through CDP

June 24, 2018 – Hope science camps challenge young minds

June 24, 2018 – Canoeing in the wilderness of Minnesota’s Boundary Waters

June 22, 2018 – Study shows business case for racial equity:  Report finds Michigan can gain $92 billion in economic output by 2050 if racial disparities are eliminated

June 22, 2018 – OPEC countries to pump more oil to contain price increase

June 22, 2018 – West Michigan companies rate as ‘Best for the World’

June 22, 2018 – Are Certificates of Deposit Worth It Right Now?

June 21, 2018 – Cities at the Crossroads of Consumption and Sustainability

June 21, 2018 – Small businesses and the benefits of conscious capitalism

June 21, 2018 – Trump scraps Obama policy on protecting oceans, Great Lakes

June 21, 2018 – Holland Police ice cream truck rolling out for second season

June 21, 2018 – Looking to the long term, UPS boosts fleet with CNG trucks

June 20, 2018 – Volunteers wanted for Holland State Park clean-up day

June 20, 2018 – Hamilton schools pass surplus budget

June 19, 2018 – Living Sustainably:  Food projects help share the summer bounty

June 19, 2018 – U.S. Announces Its Withdrawal From U.N. Human Rights Council

June 19, 2018 – Has Environmental Sustainability Lost its Relevance?

June 19, 2018 – More Travel Providers Boost Sustainability Initiatives

June 19, 2018 – WO set to have enrollment drops, some deficits in 2018-19

June 19, 2018 – Donate school supplies, food pantry items to Stuff the Bus events

June 18, 2018 – Flooding from sea level rise threatens over 300,000 US coastal homes – study

June 18, 2018 – El Niño watch issued: How it could seriously affect this storm season

June 17, 2018 – DeVos muddies debate: Education leader’s comments spark immigration worries, outrage

June 16, 2018 – Why many Americans aren’t benefiting from robust US economy

June 15, 2018 – Sidewalk repairs, youth employment coming with Holland’s CDBG funds

June 15, 2018 – Michigan enacts toughest lead rules in U.S. after Flint crisis

June 14, 2018 – At Summertime Jamboree, play cornhole, race cockroaches and more

June 13, 2018 – Drug, assault and sex offenses up in Ottawa County

June 12, 2018 – Charitable giving in US tops $400 billion for first time

June 11, 2018 – Living Sustainably:  Framework guides Holland’s sustainability efforts

June 7, 2018 – Yellowstone boss says Trump administration forcing him out

June 5, 2018 – Lawmakers, civil rights groups call for DeVos to set record straight on immigration, schools

June 5, 2018 – Local fruit farmers optimistic about upcoming season

June 5, 2018 – ‘Station Eleven’ picked for Big Read Lakeshore

June 4, 2018 – Living Sustainably:  Summer is time to spur kids’ natural curiosity

June 1, 2018 – Group challenges Nestle’s water permit from Michigan

June 1, 2018 – Home Help: How to attract hungry hummingbirds to your yard

June 1, 2018 – Nicolas Loris: (Opinion) Why gas prices are pumped up – and how we can lower them

June 1, 2018 – Holland State Park receives beach wheelchair donation from nonprofit Lori’s Voice

June 1, 2018 – Avoiding meat and dairy is ‘single biggest way’ to reduce your impact on Earth

Living Sustainably: Holland seeks better recycling outcomes

By Aaron Thelenwood, City of Holland

A new five-year agreement between Holland and Republic Services is structured
to drive recycling, increase overall landfill diversion, and ensure city residents are producing the highest
quality recycling materials possible.

The City of Holland has reached a new five-year waste and recycling agreement in the midst of major changes locally, regionally, nationally, and internationally. The contract with Allied Waste Services, locally known as Republic Services of Holland, provides recycling, refuse, and yard waste collection for residential users.
Among those changes in the realm of recycling, locally Kent County is bringing online a state-of-the-art recycling campus which will greatly expand its capacity in both number of users and types of materials. The move will likely drive the recycling narrative across West Michigan.
On the state level, Gov. Rick Snyder has set ambitious goals to increase the state’s recycling rate from 15 percent to 45 percent. Also, legislation is being considered that would increase tipping fees to boost recycling infrastructure statewide and decrease landfill use.
This is all occurring in the shadow of international policies limiting the amount of recycled materials accepted by countries and a shrinking international market for recycled materials.

All of which highlights the need to control waste volumes. Motivations for limiting waste go beyond being green. A 2016 West Michigan Sustainable Business Forum study estimates the total potential economic impact of materials put in West Michigan landfills is $56 million.
Michigan is quickly moving to a perspective where waste materials are economic assets that need to be managed responsibly.
The City of Holland entered into this new agreement with all these factors in mind and has structured this new contract to drive recycling, increase overall landfill diversion, and ensure we are producing the highest quality recycling materials possible.
A waste characterization study will be completed within the first year to provide a comprehensive profile of what materials we recycle and dispose of, while identifying opportunities to increase diversion.
This study could be used in assessing the viability of programs like curbside composting. The study also will provide solid data about our recycling contamination rates.

Recycling in the City of Holland is as simple as putting all recyclable materials in yellow bags to be collected with regular trash.

The city uses a “commingled approach” to recycling where all approved recyclables are placed in yellow bags, tied and then placed in the garbage can. Recycling and landfill materials are picked up by the same truck. The yellow bags are then separated at Republic Services’ transfer station.
The city is also working to minimize its own waste stream. For years, the city’s Parks Department has processed into compost materials collected in spring and fall clean-ups. The Community & Neighborhood Services Department recently completed a waste audit and is testing whether more accurately sorting office refuse can drive down landfill waste.
In summary, Holland is continually looking for ways to be innovative, to establish fruitful partnerships, and to ensure we are taking responsibility for the materials we produce and dispose of throughout the community.
 Aaron Thelenwood is the City of Holland’s solid waste/recycling & sustainability coordinator. Go to 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.

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