Living Sustainably: Manage your house for more comfort, lower energy bills

Living Sustainably: Manage your house for more comfort, lower energy bills

By Peter Boogaart, City of Holland Residential Energy Adviser

In the commercial/industrial sector, every building has a supervisor, someone who is responsible for managing the way it functions. When something is wrong — no heat, broken window, lights out — you call the “super.”

In the residential sector, every house – and there are 7,500 single family homes in Holland – has a “super” too. It just happens to be you, the homeowner. OK, true – but most of us never took a Building Management course, and the house didn’t come with an owner’s manual.

So, what should we do to manage our homes most efficiently?

First, monitor your building. Supers get reports. Today those reports are digital and happen in real time. Homeowners get reports too. They’re called utility bills. Yes, you have to pay it, but the real value is in the data. How many therms of gas, kWh of electricity or gallons of water are you using? How does your run rate compare with an energy efficient home? With a wi-fi thermostat, much of this information can be digital too. Some homeowners are installing dashboards which give them real-time monitoring.

Second, whatever your technology, begin with an audit. You need to know your baseline. The Holland Board of Public Works can help. Access their online tool (find the Home Energy Use Calculator in the pulldown at and calculate your energy use number. Think of it as the miles-per- gallon for your house; low numbers are better.

Third, take an inventory. Go room to room and write down everything that uses electricity. How many light bulbs? Are they LED? Are your electronics and entertainment equipment on smart surge protectors? Are your major appliances Energy Star rated? Ask yourself, “Do I need it? Could it be unplugged?” You may not need to change anything, but you won’t know that without an intentional review.

Next check your mechanical equipment. Do you have a high-efficiency furnace and a schedule for changing the furnace filter? Efficient air conditioning? Check your hot water tank – is it set for 120°F, the most efficient temperature?

Fourth, listen to the family. Complaints are data. Cold rooms? Big bills? Drafty? They’re telling you where the problems are!

If the problems are significant, you may need diagnostic help from a certified building analyst. The technician will check all your systems and run a pressurization test. Think of it like your checkup with your doctor. If you live in the city, Holland’s Home Energy Retrofit program can walk you through the process. There are incentives and funding available through the On-Bill Loan program. Go to to check out the options.

Buildings are as variable as people. Some are more efficient than others. Be a smart super for your house and keep it running efficiently.

 Peter Boogaart is the residential energy adviser for the City of Holland and assists homeowners with energy efficiency issues.


PETER TESTING.JPG – Peter Boogaart, Holland’s residential energy advisor, checks a furnace for leaking emissions.

EFFICIENT LIGHTS.JPG – Installing efficient light bulbs is one of the things a smart homeowner can do to cut back energy use.

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.

May 2017 Sustainability News

May 31, 2017 – Trump resisting pressure from Europe, pope on climate deal

May 30, 2017 – Living Sustainably: Acid’s impact – A “Teach for Our Energy Future” lesson


May 30, 2017 – Sustainable business at a crossroads, again

May 29, 2017 – DNR’s fish trend viewer updated with fresh content


May 26, 2017 – West Michigan water enthusiasts should feel confident diving in

May 26, 2017 – Holland Harbor to be dredged in June

May 25, 2017 – ‘Sustainable Apparel’ Apparently Continues to Gain Momentum; Supply Chain Cited

May 24, 2017 – 5 tips that support your lawn and the environment

May 23, 2017 – Trump budget slashes money of clean air and water programs

May 23, 2017 – Class of 2017 prepares to graduate from Holland-area schools

May 23, 2017 – Zeeland High woodworking class builds stairs for Early Childhood Center

May 23, 2017 – How to Invest Without Sacrificing Your Values

May 22, 2017 – Former Grand Rapids mayor shares sustainability thoughts with city council (Petoskey)

May 22, 2017 – Experts say it’s never too early to teach compassion and empathy to children

May 22, 2017 – Rainwater Harvesting Increasingly Helps Companies Reduce Stormwater Fees & Energy Use

May 21, 2017 – Living Sustainably: 6 ways to raise a sustainable family in Holland

May 20, 2017 – 3 key indicators of Ottawa County’s health

May 20, 2017 – Holland Christian students volunteer to unearth Laketown Beach stairs during ‘big dig’

May 19, 2017 – After successful festival, Tulip Time organizers begin work for next year

May 18, 2017 – The Michigan League of Conservation Voter’s Governor’s Report Card offers resource to assess how Governor Snyder performed over the last two years.

May 18, 2017 – Hope College research project receives award

May 17, 2017 – Grand Valley receives gold status from national sustainability group

May 17, 2017 – Anglers asked to report tagged fish to DNR

May 17, 2017 – Help children avoid asthma attacks by improving home indoor air quality

May 17, 2017 – Notre Dame students plan to protest against Mike Pence at commencement — and the university is okay with it

May 16, 2017 – WALK THIS WAY TO CHALLENGE BORDERS.  The project has much to teach you about those whose lives have experienced disruption and disorder due to immigration, climate change, the refugee crisis and mass incarceration. And the disciplines of art and English and science and psychology and communication all converged to do so, crossing interdisciplinary boundaries in order to challenge you about the ways you view borders — domestic or international — and the people who are affected by them.

May 16, 2017 – Michigan biking fatalities rise 81 percent since 2014

May 15, 2017 – Living Sustainably: Green Commute Week offers challenge, health, perks

May 14, 2017 – DEQ celebrates wetlands for May

May 14, 2017 – My Take: Challenge to participate in Green Commute Week

May 12, 2017 – Modern Motherhood Has Economists Worried:  A better balance between work and family could boost the world economy

May 12, 2017 – RISE: China, US agree on some trade; no rush on climate change policies

May 12, 2017 – Outdoor Discovery Center: Early Bird Hike sets off at dawn May 13

May 11, 2017 – 6 tips to make healthy eating realistic and sustainable

May 10, 2017 – Rethinking “Sustainability”

May 9, 2017 – Majority of Michigan deer hunters don’t support regulation changes


May 8, 2017 – Boston to Pursue Zero Waste, Hopes to Trim $37M Annual Hauling Cost

May 1, 2017 – FOIA Requests Filed on Trump’s ‘Bizarre’ Plan to Cut Energy Star

May 1, 2017 – The Progress Toward Sustainability

Living Sustainably: Acid’s impact – A “Teach for Our Energy Future” lesson

LIVING SUSTAINABLY:  Acid’s impact – A “Teach for Our Energy Future” lesson

By Jessica Vander Ark, West Michigan Environmental Action Council

We sure use a lot of energy. About 97.4 quadrillion Btu a year just in the U.S. – roughly the equivalent of 16 billion barrels of oil. And all that energy use has direct impact on our planet’s oceans, making them warmer and more acidic.

But do we really understand how our lifestyle choices creates that impact?

Most of our energy comes from ancient dead things that became crude oil, coal and natural gas.

Burning those fuels releases carbon dioxide into the atmosphere, which in turn traps heat in the atmosphere – the “greenhouse effect.” At the same time, the more we burn carbon-based fuels, the more carbon dioxide the oceans absorb, making them more acidic. Since the beginning of the Industrial Revolution in the 18th Century, the ocean surface has experienced a 30 percent increase in acidity.

Among other things, sea life is affected. A simple experiment can show acidification’s impact on life such as coral, clams and oysters – creatures with calcium carbonate skeletons.

First, set up (with adult supervision) three small jars with the following mixtures:

  • An acidic solution: 100ml tap water and 50ml vinegar
  • A basic/alkaline solution: 100ml tap water and 50ml household ammonia
  • A neutral solution: 150ml tap water

Then place a whole, uncooked egg in each jar. Cover it and watch for about three days to see how changes in the pH level can impact sea life – how the shells and skeletons of calcifying organisms can be affected by acidic water. That impact on them also will change the ocean and human food webs.

So, what can you do to help? Start by understanding your own carbon footprint.

A carbon footprint is the amount of carbon dioxide your actions put into the atmosphere. Google online calculators to measure yours. Understand that energy you use – how you commute, where you get your food, products you buy, how much water you use, and how you use technology – all impact your carbon footprint.

Smaller footprints are better for the entire planet.

Each individual’s energy use affects the ocean. But with everyday choices, we can make a difference. Choices like buying local, reducing packaging and plastics, installing a solar panel, recycling, carpooling and just unplugging things – all these make a difference.

Lessons like this one, the impact of acidification, are part of a program called Teach for Our Energy Future. To download free energy lessons and experiments, go to

Teach for our Energy Future was developed with a grant from the Community Foundation of the Holland/Zeeland Area to the West Michigan Environmental Action Council and was supported by the Holland Board of Public Works, Hope College’s Center for Exploratory Learning and the Holland-Hope College Sustainability Institute.

 Jessica Vander Ark is director of environmental education at the West Michigan Environmental Action Council and co-developer of the Teach for Our Energy Future Project.


4994 kids.jpg Students at a Teach for Our Energy Future camp at Hope College study the impact acidification on an egg shell.

4887 egg.jpg An egg shell becomes soft and translucent during the experiment with acidification, demonstrating the impact acidic ocean water can have on the shells of sea organisms.

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: Six Ways to Raise a Sustainable Family in Holland

LIVING SUSTAINABLY:  Six Ways to Raise a Sustainable Family in Holland

By Marissa Berghorst, Mother and Businesswoman

Raising a sustainable family is easier than you might think. While there are many different ways to move towards becoming a more sustainable family, some of them may seem overwhelming. Here are six small, achievable steps you can take to ensure you are raising a sustainable family.

1. Spend more time reading, playing games, and exploring nature. Take time to explore family friendly attractions. Great local options include the Outdoor Discovery Center, DeGraaf Nature Center, Nelis’ Dutch Village, and the Critter Barn. Screen-free time will decrease your dependence on entertainment that requires energy. Also, remember to unplug devices when they are not in use.

2. Use cloth diapers. On top of saving an average of $2,000 per child, you will also be saving 6,000 to 7,000 disposable diapers from the landfills, per child. Modern cloth diapers have no pins, no rubber pants, are super cute, and incredibly easy to use.

3. Switch up your laundry. Wash in cold and line dry your clothes when possible. Bonus tip: To avoid crunchy clothes after line drying, switch to a detergent without optical brighteners. When tumble drying, trade in fabric sheets for wool dryer balls. Not only will wool dryer balls decrease dry time (a major plus for any family!) they will also soften your clothes without the extra chemicals.

4. Skip the brown bag. Skip the plastic ones too. When packing lunches, opt for a reusable lunch box. Take it a step further by also using reusable snack bags.

Holland Farmer’s Market

5. Shop the farmers market. The Holland Farmers Market offers freshly picked fruits and vegetables, and also breads, cheese, eggs, flowers, honey, meats and more. Get the whole family involved by taking part in the free kids’ activities from 9:30 to 11:30 a.m.. on Wednesdays from June 14 through Aug. 30.

6. Leave the car parked more often. With daily, monthly, and student passes available, MAX Transit buses are a great way to get around. If public transportation is a new experience for you, the MAX offers a free bus buddy program. A bus buddy will ride with you, help you plan trips and offer general tips. To request a bus buddy, contact the MAX at (616) 355-1010. Also take advantage of the more than 150 miles of paved bike trails Holland has to offer.


 Marissa Berghorst is a mom of kids ages 5 and 7 and co-owner of ECOBUNS BABY + CO. in Holland, which specializes in eco-friendly baby and parenting products and is a 2017 recipient of the Local Motion Award from Local First of West Michigan.


FARMERS MARKET 2.JPG: Shopping the Holland Farmers Market is fun, healthy and a good choice for a sustainable family. Courtesy photo

BERGHORST AND KIDS JPG: Marissa Berghorst spends time with her children outdoors as part of her plan to raise a “sustainable family.” Courtesy photo.

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: Green Commute Week offers Challenge, Health, Perks

LIVING SUSTAINABLY:  Green Commute Week offers Challenge, Health, Perks

By Carolyn Ulstad, Macatawa Area Coordinating Council

It’s finally spring! This time of year always warms my heart. The flowers and trees begin to blossom, the days gradually get longer and I notice myself and our neighbors venturing out more often from our homes. It’s incredibly refreshing to finally be able to soak up some warm rays.

Every spring I challenge myself to be more active, spend more time outside and ride my bike to work. And a great place to start my healthier and more sustainable commute is during the annual Holland/Zeeland Green Commute Week, now in its tenth year. The week-long commute challenge takes place May 14-20. It promotes walking, biking, carpooling, riding the bus and any other alternative transportation.

During the week, teams from businesses track their Green Commute miles online to compete for bragging rights and a trophy. Getting the entire workplace involved is a wonderful way promote healthy living and a healthy planet, but also the friendly competition can be a great team-building exercise.

Individual commuters not affiliated with a business can also submit their miles on the Macatawa Area Coordinating Council’s website to contribute to the overall total. At the end of the week, the Green Commute miles are totaled to calculate air quality and financial benefits to the community.

An added perk for Green Commute Week participants are Recharging Stations. These are local businesses giving discounts on things like coffee and food purchases, bike tune-ups, and free rides on MAX Transit’s fixed route service. (Find an interactive map showing the stations on the Green Commute web page.) Also this year, the Herrick District Library on River Avenue will have a photo-booth set up for anyone who green commutes.

To be eligible for discounts, participants must wear a Green Commute pin, available at the MACC office on Douglas Avenue, from any local bike shop or through an employer that is pre-registered.

To sign up your place of work or get more information about the commute challenge, call the MACC at (616)395-2688 or email

 Carolyn Ulstad is program assistant at the Macatawa Area Coordinating Council.

Green Commute Week Calendar:

  • Sunday: Commute kickoff; consider biking downtown, or walk or carpool to church.
  • Monday: Bike Rodeo at Lakewood Elementary, 5 to 7 p.m. Bike Holland, 7 to 8 p.m. Casual ride, all skill levels. Meet at Centennial Park. Wear helmet.
  • Tuesday and Wednesday: School Challenge Day
  • Friday: Submit final commute miles by noon at commute/green-commute-week-registration/

For information about Green Commute Week:

  • commute
  • on Twitter @MIGreenCommute

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.


CUTLINE BIKECOMMUTE2.JPG – In advance of Green Commute Week, a group of area residents check out Holland’s new bike routes at April’s Bike Holland ride. Courtesy photo City of Holland


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.

April 2017 Sustainability News

April 30, 2017 – Living Sustainably: Task force shows businesses how energy efficiency wins

April 29, 2017 – Can a tiny house play a role in helping the homeless?

April 29, 2017 – Controversial Saugatuck Dunes development gets nod from planning commission

April 28, 2017 – 100% Clean Energy Bill Launched by US Senators Merkley, Sanders, Markey, and Advocates

April 28, 2017 – Robots, tasers join battle against invasive species

April 28, 2017 – DNR seeking volunteers at state parks

April 25, 2017 – Nearly 400 military bases must be tested for drinking-water contamination

April 25, 2017 – Holland West recognized for energy reduction in ‘Battle of the Buildings’

April 24, 2017 – Three Holland organizations win Battle of the Buildings Contest

April 24, 2017 – Roots run deep for American growers

April 23, 2017 – 7 things we’ve learned about Earth since the last Earth Day

April 23, 2017 – Living Sustainably: Join the Macatawa Cleanup for a healthier waterway

April 21, 2017 – DeGraaf Nature Center hosts Earth Day events

April 21, 2017 – Local SpartanNash stores to sell redesigned reusable bags

April 21, 2017 – The Swedish six-hour workday could help you live longer

April 20, 2017 – Hope College was a finalist in the “U.S. DEPARTMENT OF ENERGY RACE TO ZERO STUDENT DESIGN COMPETITION

April 20, 2017 – (Michign) Bipartisan legislators speak out against possible EPA closure

April 20, 2017 – Michigan DNR stresses caution during Wildfire Prevention Week

April 20, 2017 – George F. Will: The battle against sex trafficking of minors

April 19, 2017 – Earth Day crafts at Herrick

April 19, 2017 – Target Vows to Use Its Power & Scale to See that All Packaging Is Recyclable

April 19, 2017 – Hertz to Provide Carbon Reporting, Offsets to Corporate Clients

April 19, 2017 – 5 gadgets for a smarter home

April 19, 2017 – Walmart Launches Sustainability Platform to Reduce 1GT CO2 Emissions Across Value Chain

April 19, 2017 – Letter: Change your diet to fight climate change

April 17, 2017 – Living Sustainably: A week’s worth of things to do for Earth Day

April 17, 2017 – Kroger Sustainability ‘Lives Here’

April 11, 2017 – Chicago’s Mayor: 900 Public Buildings to Go 100% Renewable

April 10, 2017 – Living Sustainably: You can help fight the invasives invasion

April 10, 2017 – STUDENTS TO PRESENT CREATIVE AND RESEARCH PROJECTS ON APRIL 21  Original research by students on topics ranging from the historical roots of the Black Lives Matter movement, to monitoring of the Lake Macatawa watershed, to changes in political trust in the United States will be highlighted during the annual Celebration of Undergraduate Research and Creative Performance at Hope College on Friday, April 21, from 2:30 p.m. to 5 p.m. at the Richard and Helen DeVos Fieldhouse.

The public is invited.  Admission is free.

April 9, 2017 – Planting pride: Beautifying America one garden at a time

April 8, 2017 – Biking Holland: What’s next for city’s bike network


April 5, 2017 – Get safer drinking water

April 4, 2017 – MICHIGAN SPACE GRANT CONSORTIUM SUPPORTS SEVERAL PROJECTS Several Hope College projects have received grants from the Michigan Space Grant Consortium (MSGC).

April 4, 2017 – Subscription boxes OK for the Earth?

April 3, 2017 – Transforming Organizations with Sustainability Management

April 2, 2017 – Holland Recognized as a 2016 Tree City USA

Living Sustainably: Task Force Shows Businesses How Energy Efficiency Wins

LIVING SUSTAINABLY:  Task Force Shows Businesses How Energy Efficiency Wins

By Brian Pageau (Hope College Alumni ’03), Commercial Institutional Task Force for Energy Efficiency

In my six-plus years of helping organizations pursue energy efficiency in buildings, I have met with more than 1,000 business owners and decision makers. I can confidently say 99 percent of the people I met love the concept of energy efficiency.

Some people love energy efficiency for reasons like financial stewardship and energy independence. Others like the environmental stewardship. Energy efficiency is driven by innovation in technology, and innovation drives our economy and job growth.

Energy efficiency is good for the environment, good for national economic competitiveness, good for the wallet and creates jobs. That’s a lot of wins.

And yet, less than 15 percent of those same 1,000 businesses and people strategically and proactively pursue energy efficiency. Even though they desire to be more energy efficient, they do not take action to be more energy efficient.

This is true among churches, schools and non-profits as well as retail, commercial, manufacturing and industrial businesses. With few exceptions, they all have a gap between desire and action.

Why? Three main reasons:

1. Lack of knowledge. Simply put, if someone doesn’t know a particular type of technology exists, it will not be implemented.

2. Lack of an attractive business case. In the world of business, every project is competing for the same dollar. If an energy efficiency project is “cool” but doesn’t pay back within the company return-on- investment threshold, it will not be prioritized.

3. Lack of capital. An organization might be aware of great energy efficient technology, and the business case might meet necessary criteria. But if the cost is $100,000 that’s not in the budget, most times the project will get shelved.

The Commercial/Institutional Task Force for Energy Efficiency is part of Holland’s 40-year Community Energy Plan. This past year, the task force conducted a pilot program with 13 small businesses and churches to determine what inspired action towards energy efficiency.

It addressed those three roadblocks between desire and action:

1. We built a program that delivered easily digestible energy information. This information was contextualized to the specific building and type of business.

2. We helped participants understand the business case for energy efficient technology and what it would mean to their bottom line each month.

3. We minimized the capital needed to implement the project by making people aware of Holland Board of Public Works and SEMCO utility incentives and financing options.

The results? Five of the 13 organizations implemented energy efficiency projects that created over $120,000 worth of contracting work in our community.

These projects collectively represented an average of 3.5-year return on investment in energy savings and realized a 30.1 percent savings in gas and electric consumption.

When factoring in the utility incentives, these projects are now saving the organizations about $25,000 per year.

With the right links between desire and action, these organizations learned how energy efficiency can be a win in multiple ways!

 Brian Pageau is spokesperson for the Commercial Institutional Task Force for Energy Efficiency, president of the Midwest Energy Group and a board member of the Michigan Energy Innovation Business Council.


MINIT MART CASE LIGHTS.JPG  Simple steps such as using LED lights in the cooler cases are part of a plan to save energy at the Washington Square Minit Mart.   Courtesy photo by Barry Rutherford, Holland Board of Public Works.

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.

2017 Sustainability Research Projects

The Holland-Hope College Sustainability Institute (HHCSI) would like to formally recognize the following projects.  In Holland, we believe that in order to become a vibrant, world-class community we must look at all aspects of our community.  This includes the economic, social, and environmental impacts we all have. Our City of Holland Sustainability Committee has created a seven-pillar framework with “lenses” to help us evaluate and make more sustainable choices. We have used this framework model as a way to identify the Hope College Sustainability Research Projects.

PDF Document:  2017 Sustainability Research Projects

Abstract Book

This year’s research projects were designated with a “green ribbon” on their research poster at the April 21st event.  Original research by students on topics ranging from the historical roots of the Black Lives Matter movement, to monitoring of the Lake Macatawa watershed, to changes in political trust in the United States were highlighted during the annual Celebration of Undergraduate Research and Creative Performance at Hope College on Friday, April 21, from 2:30 p.m. to 5 p.m. at the Richard and Helen DeVos Fieldhouse.

Framework Categories:








For more information about the Framework visit:

Living Sustainably: A Week’s Worth of Things to Do for Earth Day

Living Sustainabily:  A Week’s Worth of Things to Do for Earth Day

By Abagail Jeavons and Michelle Gibbs

Since the first Earth Day was celebrated on April 22, 1970, Earth Day has become an international movement with events worldwide demonstrating support for environmental protection. “The wealth of the nation is its air, water, soil, forests, minerals, rivers, lakes, oceans, scenic beauty, wildlife habitats and biodiversity… that’s all there is,” said Gaylord Nelson, a U.S. senator from Wisconsin, who founded the day.

“That’s the whole economy. That’s where all the economic activity and jobs come from. These biological systems are the sustaining wealth of the world.”

The Holland area offers a full week of Earth Day-oriented themes and events, beginning Monday, April 17. But any day can be an Earth Day, as seen by about 50 Hope College students who recently participated in a beach clean-up.

Doing things like cleaning up our local beach is so important because it lets us take ownership over our community and deliberately shape it into the kind of community in which we want to live,” said one of the students, Olivia Witta. “Little things like this are the things that ultimately make the world better.

Here is an Earth Week list of things to join in or think about in the Holland area:

Non-Motor Monday

 Explore an alternative commuting option such as walking, biking, or carpooling.

 Bike Holland! is a casual, social bike ride around downtown to learn locations of the new bike lanes.  The ride will roll out from Centennial Park at 7 p.m. and will last roughly 45 minutes. All types of cyclists and bikes welcome. Helmets required. (These rides will take place every third Monday of the month from April through August.)

Tap Water Tuesday

 “Take back the Tap” by opting to use a reusable water bottle and fill it from the faucet or fountain.  Often, people drink bottled water out of convenience or because they think it tastes better, but in blind taste tests, participants often prefer the tap.  Plus, drinking tap water is better for the environment and your wallet.

 Sandy Hansen, a local artist, will present her eco-art and highlight the important and impactful conversation between art and the environment.  Hope College, Martha Miller Center, first floor Rotunda at 3 p.m.

 “What’s Invading My Habitat?” will be Living Sustainably Along the Lakeshore’s final event of the spring. Herrick District Library, 6:30 p.m.

Waste Wednesday

 Rarely, do we think about where things go when we throw them “away.”  Reduce, Reuse, Repurpose, Recycle! And don’t forget to compost food waste.  For more information about what can be recycled rather than sent to the landfill in the city of Holland, visit is also a great resource about items you typically wouldn’t think to be recyclable.

Threads Thursday

 Learn about the impacts the clothes we purchase have socially and environmentall’y with a discussion led by staff from the Bridge and watch clips from the film “True Cost; in the Schaap Science Center, 35 E. 12th St., Room 1019.  7 to 9 p.m.

 “Women in Nature” will be hosted by the Outdoor Discovery Center at 6 p.m.  This series is designed to motivate women to be more healthy, active and passionate about the natural world.  To register visit: nature-photography/

Food Friday

 Did you know the food we eat has a huge impact on the environment?  Try products that are organic, local and meatless.

 A children’s event at the North Side Herrick Library, 155 Riley St., will let the kids make their own recycled bird feeders, along with two other earth-friendly make-and- take crafts. Participants will be entered in a drawing for a $50 Jonkers Garden Center gift card.

Earth Day Saturday  

 Turn off electronics, unplug and get outdoors!  Ideas include studying outside, visiting a park or getting some family and friends together to pick up trash or plant a tree.

For additional details about these and other activities, visit the Community Sustainability Calendar under Events at For more information about the international Earth Day, visit: earth-day.

 Abagail Jeavons is a Hope College junior and co-president of Hope Advocates for Sustainability. Michelle Gibbs is director of the Holland-Hope College Sustainability Institute.


BEACH CLEAN.JPG Hope College students and the group Hope Advocates for Sustainability recently cleared trash from Lake Michigan beaches.

Courtesy photo BIKING2.JPG Alternative commuting options, including bike riding, are a great way to celebrate Earth Week and start being more sustainable. Courtesy photo: Rob Walcott at and Velo City Cycles.

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

March 2017 Sustainability News

In the News:

March 31, 2017 – Kids send global warming postcards to Trump

March 31, 2017 – What the cluck? Author discusses the basics to raising backyard chickens

March 31, 2017 – Backyard chickens: Program allows residents to produce local food

March 31, 2017 – Consumers Energy to provide LED lightbulbs through food banks

March 30, 2017 – Franciscan friar sees climate as a moral issue

March 30, 2017 – House Michigan Department of Environmental Quality (MDEQ) budget passes over Democratic objections

March 30, 2017 – Saugatuck conservationists speak out over dunes development

March 30, 2017 – Saugatuck commits to becoming part of national water trail

March 30, 2017 – See a bald eagle

March 30, 2017 – Visitor center plans taking shape at Holland Energy Park

March 30, 2017 – How to Lower Your Energy Bill

March 29, 2017 – Letter: Make climate solutions a priority

March 29, 2017 – Ottawa County ranked first in health outcomes

March 29, 2017 – Muralist paints images on melting icebergs

March 28, 2017 – Bike share planning in Holland put on hold to look for funding

March 28, 2017 – Trump signs order at the EPA to dismantle environmental protections

March 28, 2017 – Trump tosses Obama’s ‘clean’ energy plan, embraces coal

March 28, 2017 – Natural ways to keep roses radiant this season

March 27, 2017 – Living Sustainably: 5 good reasons to borrow a home energy monitoring kit

March 27, 2017 – Doctor: To fight asthma, fight global warming

March 24, 2014 – Trump EPA cuts could hobble Michigan pollution monitoring, cleanup

March 24, 2017 – Trump administration approves Keystone XL pipeline

March 23, 2017 – Smart Water, Wastewater Management Drives Down Costs, Reduces Loss

March 23, 2017 – Will Consumers Pay More for Recycled Ocean Plastic?

March 22, 2017 – My Take: Climate change is real, impacts worsening, bipartisan solutions exist

March 22, 2017 – Tips for choosing an energy-efficient, eco-friendly HVAC system

March 22, 2017 – Ford Water-Saving Technologies Reduced Usage by 13 Million Gallons

March 22, 2017 – Often ‘overlooked’ melting influence of dark snow:  New monthly video explores critical role of soot and algal blooms in accelerating Greenland ice sheet melting rates.

March 22, 2017 – Company turns piped water into electricity:  Turbines installed inside water pipes generate electricity.

March 21, 2017 – 3 upgrades to help boost your home’s energy efficiency


March 17, 2017 – EPA Awards $100 Million to Michigan for Flint Water Infrastructure Upgrades

March 15, 2017 – Letter: Scientific consensus is stronger than ever

March 12, 2017 – Michael E. Kraft: World needs America’s climate leadership

March 10, 2017 – Huizenga testifies before Congress on Great Lakes economy

March 10, 2017 – Van Raalte Farm to host Maple Sugar Time in Holland

March 10, 2017 – Coho salmon activity picks up on Lake Michigan

March 9, 2017 – Letter: Huizenga runs into environmental conflicts

March 9, 2017 – Spring cleaning: Area parks being readied for peak season

March 9, 2017 – Smart food swaps mean more nutrition and less ‘giving up’

March 8, 2017 – 14-year-old scientist aims to solve the energy crisis

March 7, 2017 – Recycling Rates Are Rising for Plastic Bags and Wrap

March 7, 2017 – Biodegradable Breakthrough: How a Small Business Is Improving Plastics

March 7, 2017 – Companies Save $14 for Every $1 Invested in Reducing Food Waste

March 6, 2017 – Living Sustainably: 10 ways to live a more nature-rich life

March 4, 2017 – My Take: Ignoring evidence of climate change

March 2, 2017 – Summits to address West Michigan housing industry issues

March 1, 2017 – MACC approves healthy watershed partnership