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 culstad@the-macc.org.

 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 www.the-macc.org/green- commute/green-commute-week-registration/

For information about Green Commute Week:

  • www.the-macc.org/green- commute
  • www.facebook.com/MIGreenCommute
  • 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.

PHOTO:

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

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.

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 6, 2017 – UNCOMMON CLASS ON COMMON GROUNDS

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.

Photo:

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.

 

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.

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:

SMART ENERGY  

ECONOMIC DEVELOPMENT 

TRANSPORTATION  

COMMUNITY & NEIGHBORHOOD  

QUALITY OF LIFE  

COMMUNITY KNOWLEDGE  

ENVIRONMENTAL ACTION & AWARENESS  

For more information about the Framework visit:

www.hollandsustainabilityreport.org

LIVING SUSTAINABLY:Join the Macatawa Cleanup for a Healthier Waterway

LIVING SUSTAINABLY:  Join the Macatawa Cleanup for a Healthier Waterway

By Carolyn Ulstad, Macatawa Area Coordinating Council

Trash, litter, debris – whatever you want to call it – has sadly become more and more common in our waterways. It’s sad because it’s not only unpleasant for us to look at, but it can also have a negative impact on wildlife.

Trash comes in many shapes, sizes and materials, but in recent years most of it is plastic. When plastics enter the water, they break down by wave erosion and the sun’s powerful UV rays. This can lead to chemicals leaching into the water, creating a less than pristine living environment.

To make matters worse, plastics also love to attract toxins! Their porous surfaces are like magnets for the stuff. More research is needed to know exactly how it could impact the food web. Regardless, it’s likely not healthy for birds and fish that often confuse small plastic fragments for food.

By now, I’m hoping that you are at least a little troubled by the thought of plastic floating in our water and lining our rivers and lakes. Mostly I’m hoping that you are asking yourself what you can do about it.

First, try to limit using plastic as much as possible. When it is used, dispose of it responsibly. This also goes for trash you may find that is not your own. If you see it, pick it up. Make sure to recycle at your home and check with your local hauler to know what items are accepted. You can also get involved in area cleanup events.

Cleanup efforts have been ongoing for many years in the Holland area, with one set for this Saturday. The Macatawa Area Coordinating Council (MACC) and the Outdoor Discovery Center Macatawa Greenway (ODCMG) have been jointly holding spring and fall cleanups for 10 years.

Participating is a lot of fun, and bizarre things are always found. Last year a shopping cart was pulled out of the water at one site and a mailbox with its wooden post still attached was recovered at another location. Even a station wagon seat was found once.

To unearth the next big discovery, join the next Macatawa River Cleanup this Saturday, April 29, from 1 to 4 p.m. in Kollen Park.

Volunteers can pick up trash on foot or in kayaks that are provided by ODCMG. All ages are welcome, but organizers do request that anyone under 16 years old be accompanied by an adult. An RSVP is required; contact ODCMG at (616)393-9453 or find the online registration form by going to the event calendar at outdoordiscovery.org.

We hope to see you there!

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

If You Go:

What: Macatawa River Cleanup

When: 1 to 4 p.m., Saturday, April 29

Who: Community volunteers

How: Sign up at (616) 393-9453 or at the event calendar at outdoordiscovery.org

Photo:

Kayak cleaners.jpg The annual Macatawa River Cleanup, by kayak and by foot, will be held this Saturday.

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: 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 www.cityofholland.com/solidwasteandrecycling.  GreenMichigan.org 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:  outdoordiscovery.org/events/women-nature- 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 www.hope.edu/sustainability-institute/. For more information about the international Earth Day, visit:  https://www.epa.gov/history/epa-history- 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.

Photos:

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 www.pcketphotographr.com 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.

 

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: You Can Help Fight the Invasives Invasion

LIVING SUSTAINABLY:  You Can Help Fight the Invasives Invasion

By Laura Grant, Herrick District Library

Spring is here, and nature is coming back to life all around the area. The returning plants and animals remind us of rebirth and renewal. It’s a perfect time to think not only about greening our own yards and also improving the parks and public open spaces entrusted to us.  Essential in that is knowing that not all the growing things belong here.

West Michigan is blessed with amazing natural landscapes, from the Lake Michigan shoreline and dunes to forests, rivers and everything in between.  The state, counties and townships maintain fantastic pieces of nature for us to all to enjoy.

But invasive plant species, like garlic mustard, phragmites, and Japanese knotweed threaten the vitality of these spaces. Invasive plants out-compete native counterparts, depriving them of sun, water and other nutrients.

Each of us can help fight back against the invaders.  We can add native greenery to our plantings. These plants provide habitat for creatures, require less water, and are generally hardier than their non-natural counterparts. To boost the native habitat in your yard, check out the upcoming Ottawa Conservation District annual native plant sale. Order forms are available now (at www.ottawacd.org/), and plant pick up is May 10.

Also, watch for opportunities to get involved in group work days to remove invasive species. Ottawa County parks sponsors a number of opportunities (see miottawa.org/Parks/volunteer).

More immediately, we can all find out more about the invasive invasion and what we can do about it at the Living Sustainably Along the Lakeshore meeting on Tuesday, April 18, at Herrick District Library. At the event:

 Drew Rayner, the West Michigan intergovernmental invasive species coordinator, will provide information about the area’s High Priority List of Invasive Plants, educate about tools for identification, and inspire those attending to take action both in their backyards and in cooperation with the greater West Michigan community.

 Jane Kramer, a fine arts photographer, will discuss her Foreshadowing series of art that transfers the shadows of endangered plant species onto paper she makes from invasive plant species. Kramer will discuss her process that includes collecting invasive plants, processing plants to make pulp, making paper, photographing the shadows of plants, and using alcohol gel transfers to print the images onto the invasive-based paper.  She plans to do a photo transfer demonstration at the end of the program for anyone who would like to watch.

 

 

Other Resources

 Ottawa Conservation District (http://www.ottawacd.org/) or (616) 842-5852 Ext. 5.

 Ottawa County Parks and Recreation at (616) 786-4847

 West Michigan Cooperative Invasive Species Network, (616)402-9608 or e-mail westmi-cisma@macd.org

 janekramer.com/foreshadowing.html

Laura Grant is a library assistant at Herrick District Library and a member of the Living Sustainably Along the Lakeshore committee.

PHOTOS:

COMPASS PLANT.JPG — An image of a threatened species, compass plant, is printed on paper made from the invasive phragmites plant. Courtesy photo.

GARLIC MUSTARD VOLUNTEERS.JPG – Volunteers such as this group work in area parks and public lands to pull out invasive species such as garlic mustard. Courtesy photo.

If You Go:

What: “What’s Invading My Habitat?”

Who:  Anyone, community members interested in ways to get involved with protecting and enhancing their local environment

When: Tuesday, April 18, 6:30 p.m.

Where: Herrick District Library, 300 S. River Ave., Holland

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.

Living Sustainably: Six things to know about the coziest garden in Holland

LIVING SUSTAINABLY:  Six things to know about the coziest garden in Holland

By Savannah Weaver, Community Garden Director

Hollanders know that Windmill Island Gardens is home to extensive spring tulip displays and America’s only working antique Dutch windmill. However, fewer may be aware that since 2016, we’ve been putting our own unique spin on the community garden – a chance for anyone in the community to learn about and grow their own fresh vegetables.

Growing our own vegetables is a significantly sustainable practice. It gets our hands in the soil and connects us with Earth. Community gardens make efficient use of space, provide access to a low-cost, sustainably-produced source of healthy food, and decrease reliance on commercially-grown produce that might have a large carbon footprint and could be sending money out of the community.

Here are six things to know about Holland’s own community garden:

1. We’re beginner-friendly. Although experienced gardeners are welcome, our program is designed to teach newcomers all they need to know to grow their own vegetables. Anyone with a plot in the garden also gets access to biweekly garden skills classes. Classes cover basics like fertilizing and controlling pests, as well as garden-adjacent topics such as preserving and cooking with vegetables. The first class is April 29.

2. We put the “community” in “community garden.” The name of the garden, de Gezellige Tuin, is Dutch for “the cozy garden” – a name that represents the warm and welcoming community we aim to establish. Participants are encouraged to share everything from tips and ideas to extra seeds and produce with the garden neighbors they’ll get to know quite well after a summer of classes and other events. Additionally, Windmill Island staff is frequently on hand to give advice and answer gardening questions.

3. We’re affordable. The cost of supplies can often seem daunting to would-be gardeners. De Gezellige Tuin removes this barrier by providing community tools and equipment. We also offer our participants free starter plants and seeds of some of the most popular vegetables to grow in our region. The fee for participation is only $30, with financial assistance available to those in need.

4. Location, location, location. Windmill Island’s famous tulip fields look stunning in the spring but used to lay fallow after the tulips finished blooming. Now our community garden makes use of that otherwise unused space. The result? An efficient use of land, and a vegetable garden with fertile, well-maintained soil flanked by beautiful landscapes and the iconic de Zwaan Windmill.

5. We’re all in this together. De Gezellige Tuin is supported by local businesses such as Van Wieren Hardware and Wolverine Tools, which have donated equipment, and De Bruyn Seed Co., which supplies starter seeds. We give back to the community as well, by donating the harvest from a staff-tended demonstration plot to the Community Action House’s food pantry and partnering with the Boys & Girls Club of Greater Holland to give high school Club members an opportunity to learn gardening skills.

6. Space is limited; sign up now. Just 36 garden plots are available, and the first class is April 29, so sign up soon. To learn more about de Gezellige Tuin or apply for a plot for the 2017 season, email Savannah Weaver at greenhouse@cityofholland.com, or call (616) 355-1032.

 Savannah Weaver is director of the de Gezellige Tuin community garden program.

IMAGES: Courtesy of Savannah Weaver.
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.

 

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.

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  www.consumersenergy.com/lighting

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 21, 2017 – NATIONAL GEOGRAPHIC SOCIETY GRANT SUPPORTS RESEARCH IN EUROPE

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

Living Sustainably: Five Good Reasons to Borrow a Home Energy Monitoring Kit

LIVING SUSTAINABLY:  Five Good Reasons to Borrow a Home Energy Monitoring Kit

By Ashley Kimble, Holland Board of Public Works

Do you know how much the electricity is costing you for that second refrigerator in the basement that you use once a year for the Thanksgiving turkey? Or the hidden cost of the incandescent lightbulb you can’t seem to part with just because it hasn’t died yet?

Incandescent light bulbs, extra refrigerators, old appliances, extra humidity – all of these things can contribute to excess energy use in your home. Making simple yet effective changes can make a difference in your monthly energy bill.

But how do you find out what changes to make in order to save? Here’s the answer: Check out a Holland Board of Public Works Home Energy Monitoring Kit from the Herrick District Library.

 

Here are five reasons to check out a Home Energy Kit today.

1. Learn how much electricity your appliances and electronics are costing you.  The Home Energy Kit includes a watt meter. Simply plug the watt meter into an outlet and plug your appliance or other electronic device into the watt meter. The display will show an instant read of how much it costs to use this device. The meter is even programmed to Holland Board of Public Work’s rates.

2. Find out where heat is escaping from your home. The Home Energy Kit also comes with an infrared thermometer. Point and shoot the thermometer laser to measure the temperatures around doors, windows, vents, light switches and other openings. If you find an area with significant temperature difference compared to the rest of the room, odds are that area could benefit from air sealing or more insulation.

3. Measure the humidity in your home. Did you know humidity affects home energy usage? It requires the heating and cooling system to work longer to overcome the negative impact that too high or too low humidity has on the interior of your home. Keeping the humidity at 40 to 50 percent is the ideal condition for your comfort and the efficiency of your heating and cooling systems.

4. Learn about energy conservation with your family. Use the Home Energy Kit together as a family and seize it as a learning opportunity with your children. The kit includes information about ways to save and other resources provided by the Holland Board of Public Works.

5. It’s Free. That’s right, free. With your Herrick District Library card, you can check one of these kits out at no cost, just like a book. Simply ask at the information desk where the kits are located, grab one and it’s yours to use until the return date.

What are you waiting for? Head to Herrick District Library and start saving!

 Ashley Kimble is the customer communications specialist at the Holland Board of Public Works.

IMAGES: ENERGY KIT.jpg CUTLINE: The Home Energy Monitoring Kit, available for free loan at Holland District Library, will help homeowners cut energy use and save money. Photo: Ashley Kimble

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.

 

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.