Annual Earth Day and Arbor Day Tree Plantings

These are only open to our Hope College students, faculty, and staff. If you plan to join us, please make sure to follow campus social distancing practices.

April 2021 Wellness Program Challenges Help Celebrate Earth Month

At the start of 2021, a national survey revealed that nearly 84% of adults have reported experiencing at least one emotion associated with prolonged stress. Prolonged stress disrupts the balance of a healthy mind and body. This month, learn methods to help manage your stress and how something as simple as laughter can provide lasting benefits to your body, mind, and soul!

Click here for the full monthly Newsletter and use page 2 to challenge yourself to start stress-reducing practices today!

The Tree Hugger Challenge invites you to enjoy nature for 300 minutes over the next 30 days (this averages to 10 minutes a day).  Choose something that YOU enjoy doing each day such as enjoying lunch at the park, taking a hike, walking a trail or enjoying a sunset over lake MI! This is on the wellness portal ( – if you are not on the wellness portal please email Kathryn ( and she will send you a registration link! 


Throughout April (in place of a try it before you buy it)

April 22th is dedicated as earth day each April.  However, due to Covid we are opting to avoid a large group gathering to join forces to keep the environment clean on one specific day and instead shift the focus to April as Environmental Awareness month! This April we want to encourage (and challenge) everyone to get outside, enjoy nature, get exercise and aid to beautify the community/nature while doing it (this would count towards the above challenge minutes, too!). 

Starting on April 1st bags, gloves, and local park maps will be available in the lobby in front of Human Resources.  There will also be a sign up sheet for a drawing for an Ottawa County Parks pass for individuals who are participating in this endeavor.  The drawing will take place on May 1st. 

Kathryn J. Mock, MBA RDN
Registered Dietitian Nutritionist
Client Services Manager

Living Sustainably: Drop the Phone, Grab the World

Now more than ever, we can’t seem to exist without technology.

Though humanity was already walking that precarious path, the COVID-19 pandemic forced us even closer to our devices — perhaps a little closer than we were ready.

Viewing our phones, tablets, and TVs as lifelines to the world brought into perspective how much life we could live through them.

Exploring our outdoor spaces is a great way to mark the National Day of Unplugging.

However, remember that technological advancement is double-edged. These machines that pump us with serotonin also dissociate us from a tangible existence, and that is why the National Day of Unplugging is something we should all honor.

The Day of Unplugging, begun in 2009, promotes a 24-hour break from technology.

A decade ago, there was little data correlating mental health to phone dependence, but the core founders of the day believed we needed a communal awareness of potential smart-device effects.

On the National Day of Unplugging, coming up March 5-6, communities are encouraged to bring tech and life into a sustainable balance.

This is also a time to slow the dizzying pace of life, something phones have also helped throw out of whack. The Day of Unplugging is an international movement with supporters in cities and towns all across the world, even here in Holland.

As this day approaches, West Michigan residents are encouraged to explore screen-free possibilities for adventure, education, and socialization.

There is certainly no shortage of natural spaces to discover with family and friends, such as Windmill Island, Window on the Waterfront, Riley Trails, Van Raalte Farm, Pigeon Creek, and others.

If the spring weather sticks around, a hike outside would be the perfect opportunity to view wildlife such as cardinals, eastern bluebirds, and cottontail rabbits.

The Outdoor Discovery Center and DeGraaf Nature Center, especially, are invaluable resources for kids to better understand the nature-rich ecosystem that surrounds them.

If you’re the volunteering type, a day at Eighth Day Farms will not only gift you a practical knowledge of agriculture, but also an ethical understanding of stewardship.

The Day of Unplugging would be a fantastic day to ditch the car and choose a bike or skateboard, or even your own two feet to mingle with your neighborhood.

Sturdily knit communities bring about the most sustainable change, so don’t feel nervous engaging with those around you about the best ways to recycle, conserve, and increase awareness of the state of our planet.

Use this time, not just as a respite from the TV, but also as a meditation of what your life should truly be. Reconnect with those you love and appreciate those you take for granted.

With a phone blocking our view, it’s easy to forget what makes life important.

But the sounds and sights of nature often bring these back to mind, so on this National Day of Unplugging, remember what is important and what should remain here for years to come.

— Zachary Dankert is an intern at the ODC Network, working with the program team. Zach is majoring in English and biology at Hope College.

About this series

Living Sustainably is a collection of community voices sharing updates about local sustainability initiatives.

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.

Kiss the Ground

Be sure to register for our next film screening and panel discussion on Tuesday, February 23 as we reflect on the film “Kiss the Ground.” 

“Kiss the Ground is a full-length documentary narrated by Woody Harrelson that sheds light on a “new, old approach” to farming called “regenerative agriculture” that has the potential to balance our climate, replenish our vast water supplies, and feed the world.”

This film screening has been sponsored FREE of charge for our community through filmmaker grant funds.

Please make sure you register by Tuesday morning.

Plastic Bags/Films Recycling on Campus

Our Hope Advocates for Sustainability interns have begun a 6-month campaign to help reduce the amount of plastic film from going to the landfill. Due to COVID there has been an increased usage of single use items and our interns hope this program will help with this problem. We encourage all staff, faculty, and students to bring in any of the approved plastic film materials to one of our collection bins on campus. This program will run through July 2021. If we collect 500+ pounds of material (about 40,500 plastic bags) TREX will donate a high-performance composite bench to our campus.

The collection bins have been placed in the following locations:

Schaap Science Center (side entrance to SC 1000 near the vending machines)

Bultman Student Center (outside room 002)

Jack Miller (second floor near the back stairway)

Questions? Email

Sustainability Film Series

Please join the Hope College Green Team, League of Women Voters-Holland Area, Macatawa Creation Care, and Citizens Climate Lobby-Holland Area for a FREE virtual film series. You can view each of the films anytime on your own: “Honeyland” Tuesday, February 9 and “Kiss the Ground” Tuesday, February 23 and then from 7pm-8pm we will host a reflective panel discussion and Q&A session.The panelists will reflect on the film and share information about their connections to the film topic.

Register for one or both of the films and panel discussion by using this link:

One day prior to each event we will email links for a ONE-TIME VIEWING of the film (which will be open all day) as well as a link to the 7pm-8pm virtual zoom panel discussion. Please do not share or post your link online.

Living Sustainably: Big Read, Little Read events help our community connect

Yard signs across town show the political differences we have with neighbors, co-workers, family and friends. With so much going on in our country that divides us, it’s important to find ways for us to remain connected with each other.
Hope College’s NEA Big Read and Little Read Lakeshore programs offer just that. During the month of November, I invite our Lakeshore community to come together around a story. This experience of reading the same book allows us to find common ground, to explore topics and themes together, to be reminded of the humanity we share.
For the past six years, readers – from elementary school children to senior citizens – have participated in the Big Read and Little Read programs. Together, we have learned more about others, ourselves and the world around us through literature. Previous Big Read and Little Read programs have taken our community throughout the United States to Macomb, Alabama, and an internment camp in Utah, and across oceans to Haiti, Vietnam, and the Dominican Republic. And our outreach continues to grow by the day.

Together we’ve studied historical fiction, memoir and dystopian fiction. We’ve explored topics as varied as immigration, war, technology, identity and global politics. During our month of programming, with over 50 events each year, we’ve learned from experts, watched films, created art, sampled international cuisine, participated in book discussions, danced to music and viewed exhibitions in art and historical museums.
This year, our programs explore the themes of historical storytelling, sustainability and conservation in Nathaniel Philbrick’s “In the Heart of the Sea” and in Marsha Diane Arnold’s “Galápagos Girl/Galapagueña.” These books were intentionally chosen as companion texts because of their similar genre and topics, but also because of their differing interactions with the natural world. We hope these books spark conversations amongst all of our Lakeshore readers!
Because of COVID-19, this year’s month of programming will look and feel very different. Initially, we were so disappointed by this. We couldn’t imagine not sitting side by side in the Jack H. Miller concert hall listening to famous authors talk about their books, or not gathering together around a table to discuss our favorite parts of a book. We couldn’t imagine not having our closing event, the Student Exhibition of Learning at the Holland Armory, that showcases thousands of students’ artwork created in response to our Big Read and Little Read books.
However, pivoting to a mostly virtual program has opened up so many new possibilities! Because of being virtual, we’ve been able to include event speakers from Nantucket, Hawaii, and even Australia.
We’ve developed a much more robust website and marketing plan so that we’re able to significantly expand our scope and reach to Lakeshore readers and beyond.
Nearly 50 events are scheduled, ranging from instructive talks by authors and historians to “Galápagos Girl/Galapagueña” take-and-make activities for kids to a marine biologist’s discussion about whales to a dance company’s explorations of the Galapagos.
We invite you to join the over 10,000 Lakeshore readers who participate each year. Visit for more information about all the Big and Little Read programs and to register for this year’s events.
– Dr. Deborah Van Duinen is an associate professor of English Education at Hope College and the director of Hope College’s NEA Big Read Lakeshore and Little Read Lakeshore programs.

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.

In this year’s NEA Big Read Lakeshore, dozens of programs explore the themes of historical storytelling, sustainability and conservation in Nathaniel Philbrick’s “In the Heart of the Sea.”
This year’s NEA Little Read Lakeshore offers a variety of events and activities for young people to explore the themes of sustainability and conservation in Marsha Diane Arnold’s “Galápagos Girl/Galapagueña.”

Virtual Film Screening and Community Conversation: The Story of Plastic – October 27

Please join the Citizens Climate Lobby – Holland Area Chapter for a FREE virtual screening of The Story of Plastic. You can view the film anytime on your own between October 16-27. The Story of Plastic is also available to watch on the subscription DiscoveryGo streaming service, for rent on Amazon, on Apple TV, and on Xfinity video-on-demand. 

Tuesday, October 27 7:00pm-8:30pm along with our annual film series partners League of Women Voters – Holland Area Chapter, Hope College’s Green Team, and Macatawa Creation Care we will host a panel of local experts and breakout discussions. The panelists will reflect on the film and share information about the issues with plastic as well as provide tips on ways each of us can help with this issue.

Register for the film license and/or the discussion by using this link: Starting on October 16 we will email links for a ONE-TIME VIEWING of the film which will be open until October 27 (please do not share or post your link online). On October 26 we will email links to the zoom discussion meeting for the October 27 event.  

View the trailer: 

Living Sustainably: Energy-saving “silver linings” can be found during COVID crisis

By Ken Freestone, City of Holland
Have you ever thought about working or studying from home? Yes? Now everybody has! Now that we all have been home way more than we expected, and we are entering heating season, what lessons about the health of our home, family, and energy efficiency have we learned? And what might usage data show for comparison between 2019 and 2020 and the future?
With so many people working, studying, and even gathering (virtually) from home, our new routines are teaching us valuable lessons. My most valuable lesson from being home? How healthy, safe and energy efficient my home is and how much more I can still improve.
Being at home may also have given us insights that can inform our conversations locally about the Community Energy Plan and other local energy efficiency initiatives for the City of Holland – topics of a virtual meeting coming up Monday evening.
Here are some key energy saving targets to consider at home: More devices running most of the day.
Lights on in typically vacant rooms. TV’s and game consoles running more. Maybe even space heater use or increased air conditioning.

We can see that stay-home habits are having an impact: The average increase for electrical usage in Holland for the April to June period was 17 percent. Across the country, residential electricity use has shown increases ranging from 18 to 50 percent. Gas usage has been down overall globally, but we are just now entering our heating season.
Another startling realization for me came from a recent webinar series by Mark Jewell, an author and speaker on the energy sector. Jewell illustrated that money we spend personally on utilities is “after tax” money. Expenses that were previously covered at your workplace is now money you are spending personally. So, it makes sense to work to limit that energy expense.
On a positive note, the COVID-19 impact may illustrate some “silver linings” of energy efficiency possibilities for all city residents through incentives, grants and rebates.
From Sept.1 through Dec. 31, 2020, all City of Holland homeowners (including landlords of up to four-plex buildings) have access to a 20 percent grant towards energy efficiency projects that could include insulation, heating/cooling/water heaters, appliances, and windows.
Also, there are still rebates available from the Holland Board of Public Works and SEMCO, and SEMCO is also offering bonus rebates for many energy efficiency upgrades.
The city also offers a free resource for getting more information about energy efficiency upgrades by contacting Ken Freestone, residential energy advisor at or (616)355-1364.
Visit for information on rebates.
Another way for area residents to learn about opportunities for energy saving is to attend the next Living Sustainably Along the Lakeshore event, a virtual Community Energy Plan Conversation at 6:30 p.m. Monday, Oct. 13.
Speakers will present updates on greenhouse gas emissions for the city and will provide updates about the strategic development team review of the City of Holland Community Energy Plan. They also will offer tips and resources for energy efficiency for homeowners. Register for the event at
We know that there are numerous challenges with COVID-19 and with the impacts of climate change. At the same time, City of Holland residents and our neighbors have unique opportunities for “silver linings” to create a better energy future.
 Ken Freestone is the residential energy advisor for the City of Holland. He can be reached at or 616.355.1364.

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.

As home energy use has increased with more at-home activities because of COVID, energy efficiency incentives and rebates like insulation or caulking can have an even bigger positive impact.
December 18, 2013 – Julian Gonzalez with Long’s Peak Energy Conservation, blows insulation into Cathy Schultheis’ attic in Niwot, Colorado. (Photo by Dennis Schroeder / NREL)
A virtual meeting Monday evening about the Community Energy Plan will include tips on home energy efficiency measures, like insulation or smart thermostats, and incentives to implement them.