Living Sustainably: Heat hints and free LED lights make holidays greener

By Deena Roberson, Holland Board of Public Works

Holland BPW customers can trade for free LED Christmas lights Nov. 30 and Dec. 1.

With the holiday season upon us, the cool weather and impending snowfall will drive up our energy bills. The largest energy expense in the winter comes from the furnace and the energy needed to heat your home. Check out the tips below to see how you can combat the winter energy blues!
 Instead of cranking up that thermostat, try opening the curtains on any south-facing windows during the day to let the sunshine and warmth in.
 Be sure to close the curtains again at night to help keep the warmth in, and add weather stripping around any drafty doors, too.

 If you feel a little chilly, grab a sweater, some cozy slippers, and a blanket to stay warm.
 Invest in a programmable thermostat that allows you to automatically adjust your home’s temperature while you are gone to avoid heating an empty home. Program the thermostat to a lower temperature while you sleep, too, to keep energy use down. By adjusting the thermostat a few degrees lower in the winter, you can save big on your heating costs.
 To make sure your furnace is working as efficiently as possible, check the filter and replace it if need be. A dirty filter makes your furnace work harder to push air through the system, which equals more energy used.
Another large holiday energy expense comes from all those beautiful, decorative lights.

Strands of old Christmas lights that use five times the energy of new LED lights will be recycled.

Traditional incandescent string lights lose much of their energy (about 90 percent) through heat, not light, making them very inefficient.
LED (light-emitting diode) string lights are not only 80 percent more efficient, but they are safer and sturdier. Because most of the energy in the bulb goes to making light, not heat, the bulbs stay cool to the touch. LED string lights are made with epoxy lenses, not glass, which make them much more resistant to breakage.
And while incandescent string lights are less expensive to start, LED lights will last 40 seasons or more, making them a wise investment.

If you are a Holland Board of Public Works (HBPW) customer, you can ditch your old, inefficient holiday lights for a new strand of 105 warm-white LEDs! From 1 to 5 p.m. on Nov. 30 and from 7:30 a.m. to 5 p.m. on Dec. 1, HBPW customers can stop by the HBPW Service Center at 625 Hastings Ave. to exchange and upgrade old, incandescent holiday lights.
All old strands will be properly recycled, so it’s a win-win. Limit three LED string lights per customer, but each person can recycle as many old strings as they’d like.

To learn more about HBPW events, rebates and programs, and to see more energy saving tips, visit May your holiday season be green and bright!

 Deena Roberson is the conservation programs specialist at Holland Board of Public Works. She manages residential energy efficiency 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.

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: Make your holidays a little greener

By Marissa Ruehl, Hope College Green Team Intern

It’s easy to make the holidays a little more green by taking some simple steps toward sustainability.

Chestnuts roasting on an open fire. Jack Frost nipping at your nose. The holidays are quickly approaching, and we often overlook the environmental impact of these events. Below are a few easy suggestions to help make the most wonderful time of the year a little more green.
The Feast: Holidays bring big meals and family get-togethers for Thanksgiving and Christmas. Use real dishes and silverware whenever possible; they make for longer cleanup but a happier trash bag.
Single-use items are costly to the environment, but if you must use them, purchase recyclable versions and keep them out of the landfill. When shopping for meals, keep it local and use seasonal foods: squash, apples, cranberries, cauliflower, sweet potatoes, and chestnuts.
Shopping: As the shoppers rush home with their treasures, every store will offer bags. This excessive use of plastic is not good. Instead, bring a few reusable bags and kindly ask the cashier if you can use your own.

Donated items are accepted and repurposed at Ditto, a Holland resale store. Volunteers sort clothing at Ditto, where donated clothing is repurposed, supporting sustainability in Holland.

Sharing: Remember those who are less fortunate, and take time to help out in Holland and around the world. You can make donations to charities, participate in an “adopt a child/family” gift program, or volunteer with a local organization. Spread the love during the holidays.
Purchases: Shop local, buy local, and give gifts made from sustainable practices. Think renewables, recycled content, fair trade. Try making your own gifts, like candles, soaps, treats, clothing, or jewelry. Websites like Pinterest have many fun ideas. You could even opt to give gifts of your time; instead of purchasing more stuff, treat your loved ones to a happy feeling. Spend time together with a sporting event, trip, or babysitting coupons.
Wrapping: While an iconic holiday activity is wrapping presents, we don’t want all that paper ending up in a landfill. This year, be trendy and opt for easily recyclable materials such as brown paper, newspaper, and reusable bags or boxes. Deck the halls (and your gifts) with boughs of holly. Or, if you must buy some Rudolph-printed paper, look for recyclable wrapping paper, which is increasingly available.
Clean-Up: Make sure materials like plastic and cardboard get into the recycling bin. And with an influx of new items, now is a great time to go through old clothes and household items and donate them to a local collection center.
Small changes to your holiday routine can have a big effect. Once you see how easy these are, you can make them your New Year’s Resolution and have a Green 2018!
■ Marissa Ruehl is a 2017-2018 student intern with the Hope College Sustainability Green Team.  She is majoring in Spanish with minors in mathematics and political science.

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

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.

HHCSI is partnering with Local First in the first annual “2018 Lakeshore Awards.”

The Holland-Hope College Sustainability Institute is partnering with Local First in the first annual “2018 Lakeshore Awards.”


The Local First LocalMotion Awards began in 2011 as a way to promote best business practices and recognize the achievements of local businesses and individuals. It continues to be a way to showcase entrepreneurs who are using their business as a force for good. This means doing outstanding work in sustainability, helping make our community more vibrant and resilient, and strengthening our local economy.

In 2018, we will honor Lakeshore business owners at the First Lakeshore Annual Meeting in February (stay tuned for more details on the event).


Any local business in West Michigan that fits the LocalFirst membership criteria is eligible (but they do not have to be a member of Local First). Recipients are selected based on the results of their Quick Impact Assessment (QIA). All nominees will be asked to fill out the QIA, which measures business practices from the triple bottom line such as environmental impact, charitable gifts, and employee satisfaction.

Good for Environment: businesses are nominated for having outstanding practices or policies that show stewardship of the environment
Good for Community: businesses are nominated for giving back to the community
Good for Employees: businesses are nominated for going above and beyond to support their employees

To see a listing of previous winners, and visit:

Living Sustainably: Three’s not enough: The eight R’s of recycling

By Ken Freestone,
For those who think recycling is difficult – sorry, but I’m about to take you from the “Three Rs” of recycling to the “Eight Rs.” And for those who actively recycle, you are going to love that we have added  five more Rs.

Americans use about 50 billion plastic water bottles each year, with less than a quarter of those recycled. Water bottles create a huge waste problems around the world.

Earth Day’s beginnings in the early 1970s emphasized the message of “Reduce, Reuse and Recycle.”
We’ve come a long way since those Three Rs. So I’d like to introduce you to Eight Rs, a more in-depth way of looking at how to live more sustainably with more steps to take to preserve and protect our world.
Remember the need: American generate on average 4.4 pounds of trash per person per day, and just 34 percent of that is recycled. Michigan falls behind that, at a 15 percent recycling rate.

So, more tools to fight the battle, the Eight Rs: Refuse, Reduce, Reuse, Refill, Repair, Regift, Recycle, Repeat.

Recycling is the focus of the next Living Sustainably Along the Lakeshore seminar in Holland on Nov. 14.

Here’s a quick overview; learn more at the next Living Sustainably Along the Lakeshore seminar, 6:30 p.m. on Nov. 14 at Herrick District Library.

Refuse and Assess: First, simply ask if you need an item or if you could do without. Second, assess your situation; check to see if there may be a reusable or more durable replacement.
Reduce: Can you use something less often (drive less, wash less, wear more) and can you plan ahead for events or activities and research if there are ways to host your event with less waste? Planning ahead is key.
Reuse: Here is where you think about longevity of items. Can you use cloth napkins instead of paper napkins?  Can you bring a refillable water bottle instead of plastic bottles? How many reusable grocery bags can you keep in your car?  (Hint: I have about 20.)
Refill: There are more opportunities than ever to refill containers with bulk products instead of buying items with new packaging.
Repair: Can you give electronics, appliances, tools, fixtures, and so on another life? Have you seen all of the incredible repair/fix-it videos on YouTube? We also have wonderful repair shops in our area, and additionally social media outlets are great tools for asking how to get something repaired.
Regift: Really, how many wine bags, containers, gift boxes, wrapping paper do we need? Do you have extra toys, appliances, tools, art, plants that you could pass along to brighten other people’s lives?
Recycle: This is one of the last steps; recycle after you have tried the other six. But make it count! Read your recycler’s list of acceptable products and check local resources for recycling opportunities. (Check on,,
Repeat: Finally – yes, do it all over again!
 Ken Freestone is co-founder of He has worked on environmental stewardship, trails, greenways and land protection, as well as taught as a master composter, for more than 25 years.

If You Go
What: Living Sustainably Along the Lakeshore – A seminar for better recycling
When: 6:30 p.m., Tuesday, Nov. 14
Where: Herrick District Library, 300 S. River Ave., Holland

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

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.

October 2017 Sustainability News

October 2017 Sustainability News

October 31, 2017 – Letter: Opposition growing to Saugatuck development

October 31, 2017 – Holland High launches student engineering pathway

October 30, 2017 – Living Sustainably:  Healthy food sustains healthy living

October 30, 2017 – Community Action House offers Thanksgiving baskets, seeks holiday donations

October 30, 2017 – Corals eat plastic because we’ve made it tasty, study suggests

October 30, 2017 – Home Help: Signs your heating system needs a tune-up

October 30, 2017 – November Climate Summit Will Create a Rule Book. What Will be the US Role?

October 29, 2017 – Michigan Bookshelf: “Of Things Ignored and Unloved”

October 27, 2017 – Climate change could hurt chocolate production

October 27, 2017 – Bill package aims to improve early childhood literacy

October 27, 2017 – PepsiCo Recycling Contest Fuels Sustainability Across College Campuses

October 27, 2017 – Hope students plan DACA support march

October 27, 2017 – Local farmers prepare for cold weather months

October 27, 2017 – How Our Company Connected Our Strategy to Sustainability Goals

October 27, 2017 – What Big Companies Can Teach Small Business Owners About Sustainability

October 26, 2017 – MSU officially open largest solar power array in North America

October 26, 2017 – Eco-Friendly Paving Revives Park Pathways


October 26, 2017 – Trump declares opioids a public health emergency

October 25, 2017 – Tesla Turns Power Back On At Children’s Hospital In Puerto Rico

October 25, 2017 – How Cedar Rapids, Iowa, is adapting to climate change’s effects

October 25, 2017 – Michigan Winery and Inn Adopts Energy Efficient Measures for Farm and Table

October 25, 2017 – Hope to host basketball exhibitions to benefit hurricane relief efforts

October 24, 2017 – Controversial Saugatuck development gets approval from planning 

October 24, 2017 – Lake Michigan is now clearer than Lake Superior — but why?

October 24, 2017 – Extreme Weather, Climate Change Costing Taxpayers Billions

October 24, 2017 – Guest Editorial: Childhood obesity is a problem we need to address

October 24, 2017 – Climate Change Is Costing Taxpayers Billions — and It’s Getting Worse

October 24, 2017 – Action on climate change, inspired by an 800-year-old saint

October 23, 2017 – Living Sustainably: Social diversity enhances area’s sustainability

October 23, 2017 – Reclaimed Asphalt Performance ‘At Least Equal’ to Virgin Materials, Says Skanska

October 23, 2017 – EPA cancels talks by 3 agency scientists at Rhode Island event

October 23, 2017 – Holland, Saugatuck schools receive local produce grants

October 23, 2017 – Seeking ‘common ground’ in climate change dialogues

October 23, 2017 – Mexico takes a big step in addressing carbon emissions

October 22, 2017 – Not everyone with a #MeToo is posting their story; here’s why some are refraining

October 22, 2017 – ‘You are not alone’: Domestic violence prevalent in Ottawa County

October 22, 2017 – Kitch-iti-kipi is an enchanting stop on your UP travels

October 21, 2017 – My Take: Greater interest is to protect Saugatuck Dunes property

October 21, 2017 – Sudanese refugee finds home in Holland

October 21, 2017 – CROP Walk donation

October 21, 2017 – Readers to vote for favorite books at HDL’s Readers’ Choice Awards

October 20, 2017 – EERE Success Story—Sun Number Partnership with Zillow Brings Solar Potential Scores to Millions of Americans

October 20, 2017 – My Take: Time for Holland to be welkoming to all

October 20, 2017 – This kills more people every year than war, smoking or road accidents

October 20, 2017 – How to add recyclability and sustainability into medtech plastics

October 20, 2017 – Check out local food, artists in action at Arts & Eats tour of Southwest Michigan

October 19, 2017 – Site of Amazon’s HQ2 has much to learn from Seattle

October 19, 2017 – Do ‘Sue and Settle’ Policies Work Against Industry? EPA Chief Pruitt Thinks So

October 19, 2017 – Bill would hit Nestle with $20M annual state bottled water tax

October 18, 2017 – The Future of Electric Charging Stations Projected in 4 Simple Maps

October 18, 2017 – Locals air concerns opposition of Saugatuck Dune development

October 18, 2017 – Stabenow introduces bipartisan conservation legislation

October 18, 2017 – Locals air concerns opposition of Saugatuck Dune development

October 18, 2017 – Wolverine’s Decades-Old Toxic Tannery Sludge Dumping Could Lead to Lawsuits

October 18, 2017 – Non-owner occupied Airbnbs now allowed in commercial zones in Holland

October 18, 2017 – Rug Recycling Bill Requiring Carpet Manufacturers to Set Stewardship Programs Passes in CA

October 18, 2017 – Sustainable Packaging Market Growth Driven by Preference, Regulations

October 17, 2017 – The 6 Ways Business Leaders Talk About Sustainability

October 17, 2017 – Target Commits to New Climate Goals & 100% Renewable Energy

October 17, 2017 – Is Going Paperless Penniless for Corporations?

October 16, 2017 – Living Sustainably: Airport supports sustainable local economy

October 16, 2017 – 5 myths about solar panels, debunked

October 16, 2017 – How to Best Communicate Sustainability?

October 14, 2017 – Holland-area business leaders named to 40 Under 40 list

October 14, 2017 – EPA to clean up Kalamazoo River between Otsego and Plainwell

October 14, 2017 – Ottawa County Parks and Recreation looks forward after busy summer

October 13, 2017 – My Take: Our community, our decision, our fiber

October 13, 2017 – Movie review: New glorious nature documentary shouldn’t be missed

October 13, 2017 – Leaf colors in West Michigan are expected to peak this weekend

October 13, 2017 – Petroleum clean up bill passes the state Senate

October 13, 2017 – Prevalence of invasive stink bugs in Michigan to continue growing, expert says

October 13, 2017 – The first casualty of North Korean nuclear tests? The country’s environment

October 12, 2017 – Saugatuck Dunes Coastal Alliance denied request to appeal development plan

October 12, 2017 – Saugatuck Dunes Coastal Alliance denied request to appeal development plan

October 11, 2017 – Judge allows Dakota Access pipeline to keep running

October 11, 2017 – Black River students learn food sources in Market Project

October 9, 2017 – Living Sustainably: Three Holland projects are finalists for state energy awards

October 9, 2017 – EPA chief says administration to roll back climate plan

October 8, 2017 – Hope College featured in Princeton Review’s green colleges

October 7, 2017 – Holland’s Tulip Time earns top honor from World Tulip Summit

October 7, 2017 – Why Musk is pitching solar panels to Puerto Rico even as residents struggle to get clean water

October 6, 2017 – Trump quietly stalls safeguards for dozens of endangered species

October 5, 2017 – Zeeland Christian students get project help from design firm Disher

October 4, 2017 – 5 eco-friendly tips for cleaning your home

October 4, 2017 – 3 important areas to focus on when winterizing your home

October 4, 2017 – 7 projects to help your home weather the winter safely and efficiently

October 3, 2017 – PepsiCo Recycling Contest Fuels Sustainability on College Campuses

October 3, 2017 – $240 million Holland Energy Park opens with ribbon cutting

October 3, 2017 – Sharing the road: Safety gear makes cycling safer, but can promote a false sense of security

October 3, 2017 – New Research Says Reducing Ozone Levels Produces Medical Benefits But Manufacturers Say the Rules Are Inflexible

October 2, 2017 – Living Sustainably: Holland Energy Park: Resource, destination, gateway

October 2, 2017 – Ottawa County to purchase historic home in Bend Area park

October 2, 2017 – Sustainable Sourcing a Key Pillar for Prosperity, Says Tetra Pak

October 1, 2017 –New exhibit looks at the Au Sable River

Living Sustainably: Healthy food sustains healthy living

By Melissa Roessing, Community Action House
Think of the words “food pantry” for a moment. What comes to mind? I’d be really surprised if anyone’s first response was “quality.” People usually think of macaroni and cheese and a place that’s a little dull and drab.

Fresh, locally grown produce is donated on a weekly basis to Community Action House for its food pantry, to promote healthy eating.

We’re in the process of changing that assumption at Community Action House. We are not content to be a pantry that hands out canned food with the hope that people know what to do with it.
One in eight people in West Michigan struggles with food insecurity – meaning that they have unreliable access to healthy food. If you identify with that and you experience the strain of constantly stretching the food budget, you know how tough that is. And if the only way to stretch the food budget is to buy inexpensive, nutrient-void food so at least your family can eat, then that’s what you do. Maybe
you’d rather buy those peaches, but you can buy a lot more ramen noodles for the same price.
When a community acknowledges the dramatic increase of food-related illnesses such as heart disease, obesity, and diabetes, and proceeds to tell people, “You should eat healthier,” but gives them no options of doing so, what meaningful help is actually being offered?

Melissa Roessing (left) and Deb Ralya showcase some of the bounty of the vegetable section at Community Action House, to promote healthy eating.

Community Action House is seeking to address the issue of healthy eating by offering a full range of choices in our food pantry in the following categories: Protein, dairy, vegetables, fruit, grains and miscellaneous. We’ve formed partnerships with local farms, community gardens, individual gardeners and grocery stores who donate an array of healthy food that we can distribute.
Along with some familiar products, there may be new items on the shelf that customers have never seen before. Therefore, we add recipes and make displays of simple meal ideas to provide new menu options. We host monthly food distributions to help ensure families have a reliable source of food each month. During the summer months, we run a food program called Fresh Fridays. We put out tables of fresh produce every Friday morning, and we always have a crowd of people outside waiting for our doors to open.
We also started an edible landscape this year. Sungold cherry tomatoes and collards decorate the front of the building, just waiting to be harvested by anyone who would enjoy them.
And we’ve worked on “stretching the harvest” this year. When we receive an abundance of fresh produce, we freeze items like bananas and blueberries to share in the winter when we have less produce.
Stop in sometime to see the food pantry and ask how to get involved with helping us feed healthy food to Holland area residents. We have lots of ideas!

 Melissa Roessing is the stabilization services supervisor at Community Action House. She’s loves to inspire others to try kale and relishes her time in the kitchen, cooking healthy food for her family.

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.

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.

Holland Energy Fund Wins Governor’s Energy Excellence Innovator of the Year Award

Media Contact: Ashley Kimble, Holland Board of Public Works (616) 355-1576

October 20, 2017, Holland, MI – Holland Energy Fund, a nonprofit corporation that supports Holland’s long-range Community Energy Plan, was recognized as “Innovator of the Year” at the Governor’s Energy Excellence Awards (GEEA) for its energy waste reduction achievements.
Holland Energy Fund was one of eight winners announced by Gov. Rick Snyder and honored at a ceremony in Detroit on October 19.
“Holland Energy Fund was incorporated as a non-profit in 2015 and supports the Holland Community Energy Plan, a 40-year path to the city becoming a world-class leader in energy security, affordability, sustainability, and efficiency,” said Anne Saliers, community energy services manager, Holland Board of Public Works (HBPW).
To reach the goal, Holland Energy Fund’s Home Energy Retrofit Program offers a 10 percent rebate to City of Holland homeowners for investing in “deep” energy upgrades. It also offers low fixed-interest loans that residents can conveniently pay back on their Holland BPW electric bill.
“It’s the first on-bill financing program for improving home efficiency and comfort in Michigan,” said Mayor Nancy DeBoer, City of Holland. “As a City that prides itself on being forward-thinking, it’s truly special we’ve been awarded the Innovator of the Year award for pioneering these unique programs.”

Representing two of three Holland projects that are finalists for the Governor’s Energy
Excellence Awards are, in front, homeowner Nancy Kiernan and in back, left to right, Mayor Nancy
DeBoer, Holland Residential Energy Advisor Peter Boogaart, City Treasurer and President of Holland
Energy Fund Tim Vagle, and Holland BPW Community Energy Services Manager Anne Saliers.

The GEEA winners’ energy solutions ranged from improving existing structures with energy-efficient state-of- the-art heating cooling and lighting systems to constructing new buildings, all with a goal of reducing energy waste and improving overall sustainability.

“Reducing energy waste, along with ensuring energy reliability and advancing clean energy, is a key component of Michigan’s energy policy,” said the governor. “We’re proud of the steps taken by the individuals and organizations we’re honoring, because collectively they illustrate what can be done to reduce energy waste and save money, both of which strengthen Michigan’s economy.”
Nominations were made in one of eight categories celebrating differing ways in which energy efficiency can be achieved in the state of Michigan. The award categories include:
 Best Projects (commercial, residential, public, industrial/manufacturing, and agriculture)
 Innovator of the Year
 Contractor of the Year
 Best Communication or Education Program


About the Governor’s Energy Excellence Award
The Governor’s Energy Excellence Awards honor Michigan individuals and organizations who have made reducing energy waste and implementing energy-efficient practices part of their everyday lives. The awards would not be possible without the support of the Department of Energy and the Michigan Agency for Energy through the Michigan Energy Office. Other sponsors include CLEAResult; Consumers Energy; Dow Chemical Company; DTE Energy; DNV GL; ICF;
ITC, a Fortis Company; and SEMCO ENERGY Gas Company.
For more information on the awards, go to For winner and finalist photos and project descriptions, click on “Finalists.”