Living Sustainably: Elephants in the room – Plastic waste is a big issue

By Madison Ostrander ’18 and Eighth Day Farm Intern
Try to picture just over 1 billion elephants roaming around. Maybe at first the elephants would be a fun novelty, but I’d be willing to bet after a short while we’d have had enough, with things getting dangerous and crowded.
This bizarre scenario relates to the dilemma our country is facing with plastic waste: The weight of plastic waste we’ve produced equates to the weight of just over 1 billion elephants.

Simple steps like using reusable cloth bags for shopping can help address elephant-sized problems of plastic pollution.

However, since the breakdown of plastic can take up to 400 years, an elephant relocation plan might be an easier problem to solve.
For instance, although a small amount of plastic is recycled, repurposed, or burned, most plastic ends up in landfills. Even 25 percent of plastics deposited in a single-stream recycling systems is redirected to the dump.
Elsewhere, the sharp increase of plastic production has dangerously littered our oceans, hurting those inhabiting it.
So, let’s address the elephant(s) in the room. As consumers, each of us is responsible for driving the increase in plastic production. But that doesn’t mean we can’t start making a positive impact now. While waste management innovations are being studied on a larger scale, we can each make a difference by choosing to avoid the use and purchase of plastic when possible, especially by avoiding single-use plastic convenience items.
Making the following switches can be an adjustment. But if we start looking at plastic packaging as elephants we don’t want in our backyards, foregoing a few conveniences we’ve grown used to might be easier. Try the following easy switches to reduce your negative impact:
1. Say goodbye to plastic grocery bags. Reuse saved plastic grocery bags or take reusable totes to the grocery store. Apply this to retail shopping too. Some stores will even honor your environmental efforts with a small discount.
2. Carry an insulated beverage container. You can save more than $100 per year by striking water bottles off your grocery list. And your insulated container works great for to-go coffee, too; you can enjoy both a clear conscious and hotter coffee for longer with this eco-friendly alternative.
3. Kindly return wrapped straws at restaurants to your server.
4. Limit the plastic-packaged food you purchase, including produce. The farmers market is a great place to start with unpackaged produce.
5. Find alternatives to plastic-packaged cosmetic products. Look for bar soap, shampoo bars, or products sold in non-plastic containers.
Challenge your friends and family to see who can make the most switches by the end of summer, and keep the conversation going by sharing your own ideas to tackle this elephant-sized problem.
 Madison Ostrander is an intern at Eighth Day Farm, a local urban farm focused on creation care and natural growing practices, and a recent business and writing graduate from Hope College.

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

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

Living Sustainably: People can expand or limit invasive bugs’ impact

This small fuzzy material and the tiny bug that creates it on hemlock trees is an invasive species that could have massive impact by decimating Michigan’s hemlock forests.

By Analise Sala ’19 and Micaela Wells ’19, Hope College
Travel has consequences. Thanks to an increasingly connected world, American forests house more than 360 non-native insect species, 30 percent of which have become serious pests.
By relocating and displacing organisms, we are effectively homogenizing our planet’s landscape in a period of great human influence on the environment that has been coined the “anthropocene.”
Many are aware of the emerald ash borer, an invasive Asian beetle. It was first discovered in 2002 in southeast Michigan, where by now it has killed over 99 percent of adult ash trees. The transport of firewood and nursery trees ensured quick spread from forest to forest throughout Michigan and the eastern U.S.
Dead trees all around Holland are symbols of this beetle’s destructive power.
This story is far from unique. Fewer than 15 years after the invasion of the emerald ash borer, a new insect threatens Michigan tree species. The invasive hemlock woolly adelgid has been discovered on Eastern hemlocks in West Michigan’s own dune forests.
And still another pest is knocking on our doors. The Asian longhorned beetle is devouring the heartwood of thousands of maples and other hardwood trees in neighboring Ohio and frequently hitches rides on human-transported firewood and shipping pallets.
These insects are not problematic in their home regions of highly interdependent systems. Home-range trees have evolved defenses against their longtime pests, and they can coexist with no danger of heavy infestation.

However, when the pests are transported away from their home regions, natural competitors and predators are left behind, allowing unchecked invasive populations to spread rapidly.
The danger, then, comes with us. Every tree, pallet, or pair of unwashed hiking boots moved from one place to another has the potential to introduce a new major player into an existing ecosystem. These major players can out-compete and displace multiple native species, reducing an area’s biodiversity.
We can best appreciate the local diversity of the places we visit by doing whatever we can to keep those places just that – local. Landscaping with local nursery stock, washing clothing after visiting the woods, and heeding those oft-overlooked Department of Natural Resources warnings against transporting
fish, firewood or soil are all great ways to slow the spread of invasives that threaten the unique ecosystems of our region.
We can also report the presence of invasive species to cooperatives like the Midwest Invasive Species Information Network which work to monitor and control invasive species spread. (Visit www.misin.msu.edu/ for more information.)
Undoubtedly, some pests will still spread, and scientists will need to explore new ways to combat those threats, but we can each help prevent the frequency at which they must do so. Explore and cherish our unique West Michigan ecosystems, but be mindful of what you take with you.
 Analise Sala and Micaela Wells are summer student researchers working at Hope College under Drs. Vanessa Muilenburg, K. Greg Murray, and Kathy Winnett-Murray on the project “Direct and Indirect Impacts of a Developing Hemlock Woolly Adelgid Invasion in West Michigan Dune Forests.”

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 treebenefits.com. 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.

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

Living Sustainably: Celebrate Your Watershed at this year’s Water Festival

By Ashley Van Zee, Outdoor Discovery Center
It’s time to celebrate your watershed!
Yes, we all live in a watershed. If you live in the Holland and Zeeland area, you live in the Macatawa watershed. A watershed is an area of land that drains into a certain stream, river, or lake. It’s like a bathtub – all the water flows towards lowest spot.
On Saturday, July 14, the Macatawa Water Festival, presented by Meijer, will be back for its fourth year on Holland’s Windmill Island. This free family-friendly event is designed to help people of all ages learn about – and learn how to protect – two of our precious community resources: Lake Macatawa and the Macatawa watershed.
The festival will feature hands-on activities and educational exhibits from more than two dozen local partners for people of all ages.
Every young explorer will receive a Watershed Passport. They will receive passport stamps as they learn from various vendors and participate in activities. Once their passport is complete, they can turn it in for a prize.
Here are five more reasons to attend the 2018 Macatawa Water Festival:
1. More than 25 hands-on activities for attendees of all ages.
2. Ride in a voyageur canoe, bike or paddle a kayak around Windmill Island.
3. Fish for trout, have it filleted and take it home for dinner.
4. Build a rain barrel or wood duck nest box for a small fee (register online at outdoordiscovery.org)
5. Great fun and a free way for the whole family to unplug and get outdoors.

Outdoor Discovery Center

 Ashley Van Zee is the community outreach coordinator at the Outdoor Discovery Center and helps manage volunteers at the Water Festival. The Outdoor Discovery Center is a nonprofit organization focused on conservation and education with the mission of connecting people, land and nature.

What: Macatawa Water Festival
When: 9 a.m. to 1 p.m., Saturday, July 14
Where: Windmill Island, Holland
Who: Free admission for all ages

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

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

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: Summer is time to spur kids’ natural curiosity

By Susan Ipri Brown, Hope College – Center for Exploratory Learning
“Nature is our kindest friend,” said the famous British scientist Michael Faraday.
Place-based environmental learning is a powerful tool for improving students’ knowledge of the world around them and sustaining their natural curiosity. Summer is the perfect time to put this natural curiosity into play as families and students explore and visit new places.
Help your student grow this summer by making a place of wonder of each place you visit to hike, bike, camp, or swim.
Foster that learning in students by just asking questions. “How does that work?” and “Where does that come from?” can start the mind running, and the students’ imagination will take off.
While you can look up many resources online ahead of time, often the best questions and most fun come from not knowing the answer and not programming every minute of the adventure. Ask the simple question and then guide the student to use online resources to answer them and delve further into the material.
In another way to foster summer learning, the Hope College Summer Science Camp program (hope.edu/explore) is developing a hands-on, nature-based camp – Exploring Ecosystems – to enrich students’ understanding of the ecology of their local area.
Two camps will be developed based on appropriate Michigan Science Standards for grades 3-5 as well as grades 6-8. The camps are being developed with funding from the Environmental Education Division of ASME, International.
Through observation, data collection and analysis, students will gain an understanding of how organisms interact with other organisms and the abiotic environment to form an ecosystem. Students will gain hands-on experience with watershed monitoring. Additionally, they will incorporate environmental
engineering topics such as water filtering and green roofs.
A biology educator is writing the program and will be mentoring college education majors as they staff the camp. Involvement of our Hope College science and education majors is a critical component of the program.
Through learning to develop and deliver environmental education programs, the student-teachers will be inspired to embrace such activities in their future career. Education majors report that camp staff positions give them confidence to take on their own classrooms and provide them the opportunity to explore new ways to teach and create inquiry-based lessons. Science majors will gain valuable experience communicating about science and participating in impactful outreach programs.
Exploring Ecosystems provides a more in-depth experience for interested students. Many science-themed camps provide students that opportunity to see the spark of wonder that nature provides. Students
are naturally curious about the environment and the interactions within nature.
But while camps are one option, casual family activities are a perfect place for learning, too.  Whether it’s a camp, a camping trip, or a long walk on a beautiful summer evening, make your outdoor adventure the spark of learning and science exploration.
 Susan Ipri Brown is director of the ExploreHope program and instructor of engineering at Hope College.

The Holland area offers a long list of opportunities for summer exploration. Here are a few ideas:
Holland State Park
Ottawa County Parks
DeGraaf Nature Center
Outdoor Discovery Center
Hope College Summer Science Camps
Windmill Island Gardens
Riley Street Trails
Window on the Waterfront
Wolters Woods
Holland Farmer’s Market
Saugatuck Dunes State Park
City of Holland Parks
Hudsonville Nature Center

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

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

May 2018 Sustainability News

May 2018 Sustainability News

May 31, 2018 – Avoiding meat and dairy is ‘single biggest way’ to reduce your impact on Earth

May 31, 2018 – Group challenges Nestle’s water permit from Michigan

May 30, 2018 – Exhibit provides a look at ‘Industrial Nature’

May 30, 2018 – Lower temps at a lower price: How to improve the energy-efficiency of your home today

May 29, 2018 – Consumers Energy tags three peregrine chicks

May 29, 2018 – Hope, GVSU students named Beckman Scholars

May 28, 2018 – Living Sustainably:  New summer program will boost school readiness

May 28, 2018 – Europe plans ban on plastic cutlery, straws and more

May 28, 2018 – Easy and breezy: 6 tips for controlling summer cooling costs

May 26, 2018 – Ohio farmers reap frustration over multistate NEXUS pipeline construction

May 25, 2018 – Holland Town Center continues local growth

May 25, 2018 – Letter: Vote ‘yes’ on Saugatuck library millage

May 24, 2018 – Why are Dutch-Americans so different from the Dutch?

May 23, 2018 – A healthy diet isn’t always possible for low-income Americans, even when they get SNAP benefits

May 23, 2018 – Eating right and staying healthy in retirement

May 22, 2018 – Zeeland hospital achieves Healthgrades award

May 21, 2018 – Living Sustainably:  Bus ride to Farmers Market pays off in MAX Market Bucks

May 21, 2018 – 6 ways Walmart is helping change the world

May 20, 2018 – More West Michigan schools starting before Labor Day

May 18, 2018 – What Chinese import policies mean for all 50 states

May 18, 2018 – By ignoring sustainability reporting, the government is out of step with investors and corporations

May 17, 2018 – Two candidates remain in contention for MACC executive director position

May 17, 2018 – Separate food waste ‘offers massive CO2 saving’

May 16, 2018 – 13th Annual Ride of Silence in Holland

May 14, 2018 – Living Sustainably:  Green Commute Expo marks special week

May 14, 2018 – Preparing for a successful career in Michigan’s skilled trades

May 13, 2018 – Food for thought: Why aren’t there more food trucks in Holland?

May 7, 2018 – “Rethink, Reuse and Recycle” with Holland BPW during Tulip Time

May 5, 2018 – Tulip Time volunteers honor Holland’s history

May 5, 2018 – Holland police under fire after recorded felony traffic stop

May 4, 2018 – Former state senator, longtime environmental advocate Birkholz dies

May 4, 2018 – Fourth EPA Official Departs Pruitt’s Administration

May 4, 2018 – Dozens of wild horses found dead amid Southwest drought

May 4, 2018 – Fiesta returns to celebrate Latino culture

May 3, 2018 – How To Teach Kids To Love Nature In A Tech-Obsessed World

May 3, 2018 – Holland SmartZone brings in over $85,000 in 2017

May 2, 2018 – Holland council to approve city budget Wednesday

May 2, 2018 – Holland Harbor to be dredged in early May

May 2, 2018 – Palisades Power Plant to host community open house

May 2, 2018 – 18 states sue the Trump administration to defend clean car rules

May 1, 2018 – Robert Redford: The biggest Scott Pruitt scandal is the one right in front of us

May 1, 2018 – Tick and Mosquito Infections Spreading Rapidly, C.D.C. Finds