Living Sustainably: Green Commute plans for any weather options

By Carolyn Ulstad, Macatawa Area Coordinating Council
With today, April 22, being Earth Day – the annual reminder to protect and preserve our planet for future generations – Green Commute Week can’t be far behind.
Green Commute is a week-long challenge, May 13 through 19, that promotes healthy living and a healthy planet through walking, biking, carpooling, riding the bus, and more.
A long list of activities has been planned to encourage people to practice and hopefully adopt planet-healthy habits, and now, everyone involved in the planning is really hoping for good weather. From participation over the past 10 years, we’ve seen that temperature and precipitation play a major role in determining how many people get involved and how many of their trips are “green.”
If it’s sunny, that’s a plus; if it’s warm and sunny, even better! But if it’s cold and rainy, participation drops off slightly. So, this year we’ve made some adjustments just in case the weather doesn’t cooperate.
For green alternatives to keep dry on cold, damp days, pack an umbrella and ride the bus, or pick up a friend and combine your weekly grocery trips, or even arrange a carpool with a co-worker.
New this year, you can also get Green Commute credit by using a fully electric car. And if you’re really lucky and your boss is OK with it, keep those PJ’s on and get comfy on the couch with your computer because telecommuting counts this year too!
Bottom line, even in bad weather there are still ways to reduce your environmental impact.
While anyone can participate on their own, getting the entire workplace involved in this friendly competition can be a great way to build comradery. By the end of the week, the company that has the greatest participation will win.
Businesses and individuals can register and submit their green commute miles on the MACC’s website. Friday, all of the “green” miles are combined, and MACC staff calculate the air-quality and financial benefits. Schools also are encouraged to sign up for two or more days of student and staff green commute competition.
For added perqs that anyone can win, “Recharging Stations” are local businesses that have partnered with us to provide discounts on things like coffee and food purchase, free rides on MAX Transit (fixed route service), and bike tune-ups at local shops. To receive the discounts, wear your Green Commute Pin.
Pins can be picked up from the MACC office at 301 Douglas Ave., from any local bike shop, or from an employer that has pre-registered.  Hope College Employees and Students – Contact Michelle Gibbs
For lots more information on Green Commute Week, details and how to register for any of the competitions, head to and go the Green Commute pulldown. For updates stay in touch via Facebook and also Twitter and Instagram @MIGreenCommute.
 Carolyn Ulstad is the program assistant at the Macatawa Area Coordinating Council where she works to help the community address transportation and water quality issues. Carolyn is a life-long resident of Holland and member of the Holland Sustainability Committee.

Green Commute Events Schedule
May 1: Green Commute Poster Contest – Deadline Anyone K-12 and adults. Check for rules and registration.
May 13: Commute Kickoff – Bike to brunch, walk or carpool with families to church, etc.
May 14: Bike Holland Ride – 6 p.m. Leaving Velo City Cycles, 326 S. River, Holland. Open to all skill levels. Please wear a helmet.
May 15: School Challenge – Get your child to school the Green Commute Way!
May 16: School Challenge Day 2
May 18: Living Sustainably Along the Lakeshore Green Commute Expo – 6 p.m. Holland City Hall
May 21: Green Commute Awards – 5 p.m. Brew Merchant, 442 Washington Ave., Holland

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.