Green Commute Day – UPDATE Tuesday, July 23

No photo description available.

****UPDATE: Green Commute Day is moving to Tuesday, July 23rd due to the extreme heat expected on Friday****

The fun doesn’t have to end in May! In addition to Green Commute Week, the Macatawa Area Coordinating Council (MACC) is announcing various Green Commute Days throughout the year. Unlike Green Commute Week, no registration is required and each person must participate as an individual.

To participate, all you have to do is:  Leave your car at home and choose green transportation for any or all of your trips for the day whether it be to work, the beach, or anywhere else!  Log your miles on the day of the event by 5pm.

Each person who logs their miles will be entered to win a prize. Plus, logging your miles allows MACC to calculate total mileage and air quality benefits!

Log your miles here on July 19 by 5pm.


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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: Contamination disrupts recycling efforts

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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: Michigan offers excellent outdoor adventures

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Enjoy exploring Michigan’s outdoors!

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

This Week’s Sustainability Framework Theme
Environmental Awareness/Action: Environmental education and integrating environmental practices into our planning will change negative outcomes of the past and improve our future.

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: Local efforts can address global climate change

By Diane Haworth, local sustainability professional

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

This Week’s Sustainability Framework Theme
Environmental Awareness/Action: Environmental education and integrating environmental practices into our planning will change negative outcomes of the past and improve our future.

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

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

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

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

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

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

This Week’s Sustainability Framework Theme
Environmental Awareness/Action: Environmental education and integrating environmental practices into our planning will change negative outcomes of the past and improve our future.

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.

Resources from our Living Sustainably Along the Lakeshore Series

Our friends at Herrick District Library have put together a great listing of additional resources from our Spring 2019 Living Sustainably Along the Lakeshore Series.  Check them out at the links below!

Stay tuned for our announcement later this summer about our Fall 2019 series topics.

Green Commuting

The Affordable Community

Economics of Sustainability

Search results for LSATL lists

Living Sustainably: Green Commute Expo offers info and fun at Holland Energy Park

Information about charging stations and owning and driving electric vehicles will be part of the Community Green Commute Expo set for Tuesday evening.

By Michelle Gibbs, Hope College Office of Sustainability and Colleen Nagel, Holland Sustainability Committee

“Green commuting” might sound complicated to some, but it’s not. In fact, the “why, where and how” will be explained Tuesday evening, along with other fun activities, as part of a free Community Green Commute Expo at Holland Energy Park.  The family-oriented event will focus on green commuting options in the greater Holland area. The expo is the last in the spring 2019 series of Living Sustainably Along the Lakeshore events.

At the Expo, people will learn about:
Why we should green commute We will hear about the health, environmental, and economic benefits of green commuting as well as how it relates to Holland’s 40-Year Community Energy Plan.
Where we can green commute The Macatawa Area Coordinating Council will share information about the transportation plan and area bike trails, and the Outdoor Discovery Center will provide information about the Greenway Trails for travel.
How we can green commute Local bike shops and green commute groups will have areas to demo bikes, do fun bike decorating, and offer tips on maintaining your bike for safe riding. MAX Transit will share information about services and routes and will have on hand a bus to let visitors practice putting a bike on and off the bus bike rack. Local residents will attend with their personal electric vehicles (EVs) so you can look under the hood, sit inside, and ask questions about their experiences with EVs. (Sorry, no test drives.) And the Holland Board of Public works will have a station for EV education and charging station rebates for residents and business owners.

Tips and routes for bicycle commuting will be part of the presentation at the Community Green Commute Expo Tuesday evening.

Other Expo activities will include the kickoff of the third annual Bike Holland Series. Those who bring bikes to the Expo can ride the trails of Holland Energy Park or take a fun ride out and around Windmill Island. Go to for more information.

And with the weather warming, the Expo will also include the City of Holland’s Operation Polar Patrol offering frozen treats.

This Expo is part of the Macatawa Area Coordinating Council’s annual Green Commute Week, beginning today, May 12, through Saturday.  It’s not too late to join in the Green Commute week fun and track your miles! Green Commute Week is all about making transportation decisions that are good for your health and the planet. And since everything is more fun with friends, teaming up is encouraged.  Register today and start tracking your miles at What counts as Green Commuting? Some examples include walking, biking, carpooling, riding the bus, telecommuting, or driving a fully electric car.

And we’ll see you Tuesday as we have fun learning about all the benefits of green commuting!

Community Green Commute Expo
When: 6 to 7:30 Tuesday, May 14
Who: The whole family is invited
Where: Holland Energy Park
Cost: Free

 Michelle Gibbs is director for the Hope College Office of Sustainability and the Holland-Hope College Sustainability Institute. Colleen Nagel is a member of the City of Holland Sustainability Committee.

This Week’s Sustainability Framework Theme
Transportation: The movement of people, goods, and services within the area is an evolving system that links us to our regional, national and global networks.

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: Rethink, Reuse, Recycle with Holland BPW during Tulip Time

By Morgan Kelley, Holland Board of Public Works

The Holland Board of Public Works is excited to be the official Tulip Time Conservation Partner for the seventh year in a row and, as such, to help the community “rethink, reuse and recycle” to help boost sustainable practices in our community.

Along those lines, consider these opportunities:

Rethink your transportation choice for navigating Tulip Time by taking the MAX Tulip Time shuttle. The shuttle offers optimal convenience for getting around the festival, and it’s also better for the environment. You’ll save time by avoiding heavy traffic and limited parking; you’ll also reduce your carbon emissions. Check the interactive map for details and routes at

Reuse a refillable water bottle. Bring your own bottle, and as you explore the festival, you will find free water bottle filling stations. There is no need to buy disposable bottles of water when you can conveniently refill!

Recycle acceptable materials. You will find recycling bins around the festival, promoting stewardship of our resources.
Meanwhile, the Holland Board of Public Works will be helping Tulip Time paint the town orange.

The Holland Board of Public Works will help “paint the town orange” for Tulip Time by handing out orange hard hats for kids before the Kinderparade Thursday.

Before the Kinderparade on Thursday, May 9, we’ll be passing out orange hard hats for kids and other conservation tips. The West Ottawa Robotics team (WOBOTS) and their robots will be assisting us.
In addition, partially guided tours of the Holland Energy Park will be held during Tulip Time. Tours are on a first-come first-served basis and will be held Monday through Thursday mornings from 10 to 11:30 a.m., as well as Monday through Wednesday afternoons from 2 to 3:30 p.m. Participants need to arrive no later than 10 minutes after the tour start time. More information can be found at or by contacting the HBPW visitor programs specialist at (616) 355-1213.
The Board of Public Works has been a community-owned resource since 1893 and strives to be environmentally responsible while providing reliable and economical electricity, water and wastewater treatment, and fiber services to the Holland community. Find more details about the Board of Public Work’s role as conservation partner at

Remember to Rethink, Reuse, Recycle: See you at Tulip Time!

 Morgan Kelley is the conservation programs specialist at the Holland Board of Public Works where she tracks and administers residential energy efficiency programs and represents HBPW at community events.

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.