Going Green in West Michigan

It’s important to take care of our planet, and luckily, many West Michigan businesses are helping, one step at a time. These organizations that are making sure they’re taking care of the environment, while still providing the best experience for travelers. Keep an eye out for some of the green practices that West Michigan businesses are adopting next time you stop by.

Environmentally-Friendly Places to Stay

Grand Traverse Resort and Spa in Williamsburg introduced an Environmental Management System in 2010 to minimize environmental impacts across its 900-acre property. Highlights of the first eight years of the program include composting 70% of food waste, using eco-friendly hydraulic fuel for all mowing equipment, and participating in a recycling program which benefits local environmental groups. The green practices at Grand Traverse Resort set the bar for eco-hospitality.

In Mecosta County, being eco-friendly is something that hospitality businesses have been doing for years. Most of the hotels have a detailed green program as part of hotel policy. The Holiday Inn and Conference Center is the best example of a company with an eco-friendly initiative, known as the “Green Engage” system.

The AHC+Hospitality properties, located in downtown Grand Rapids, each participate in green initiatives. The Downtown Courtyard Marriott ships partially used soaps to Clean the World, where they are sanitized and sent to people in need. The nearby Amway Grand Plaza is going strawless across all of the hotel’s outlets, while the JW Marriott focuses on recycling throughout the hotel. These properties are all helping preserve the environment.

Crystal Mountain in Thompsonville is dedicated to sustainability throughout all of the resort’s offerings. For their Farm-to-Table series, the Crystal Mountain culinary team works with local farms, making personal visits to build a custom three-course menu. Their spa has also been named Sustainable Resort Spa Of The Year by Green Spa Network. Relax knowing that your stay at Crystal Mountain comes with an eye for sustainability.

Eat & Drink with Sustainable Initiatives

The Downtown Market in Grand Rapids was the first market in the country to receive LEED Gold certification. Inside and outside, from the ground to the rooftop, Downtown Market has put thoughtful effort into making an environmentally friendly facility.

Located in Lake Leelanau, Northern Latitudes Distillery has implemented green initiatives since they opened in 2012. They use a solar panel for electricity and have been using paper straws for about a year. Both Northern Latitudes and their customers are happy with the change, and the environment is thanking them, too!

One of Moersch Hospitality Group’s main focuses for all of its properties is sustainability. Their efforts include recycling, using natural fertilizers and avoiding pesticides, and repurposing distillate byproducts for their cooling system. These efforts can be seen at Round Barn Winery, Tabor Hill Winery, and Round Barn Public House. Moersch’s view of sustainability and their practices help maintain a clean environment throughout all their properties.

Visit the Holland Farmers Market on Wednesdays and Saturdays, and support local agriculture. By purchasing locally grown produce, you’re helping to cut back on packaging and emissions that would otherwise be used to transport goods to grocery stores from across the country. Also be sure to check out CityFlatsHotel, the first LEED Gold certified hotel in the Midwest.

Brewery Vivant in Grand Rapids is the epitome of an eco-friendly business here in Michigan. They’re the first LEED-certified microbrewery in the world, and they’re a certified B Corp, a Gold level bicycle-friendly business, and, in 2016, they installed 192 solar panels atop the brewery and pub making them the 31st largest brewery solar array in the world. Their dedication to being eco-friendly continues with their use of local farms, meaning that the ingredients goes into your beer or meal is being produced not too far away!

Being green and environmentally-friendly doesn’t tell the whole story at Bell’s Brewery in Kalamazoo. They view sustainability as the capacity for their business to thrive in future generations, all while using practices that focus on good environmental stewardship. They want to act in ways that provide benefits now and for generations to come. Reducing impact, increasing energy efficiency, and recycling only scratch the surface. Bell’s invites you to join them for a free brewery tour in Comstock and Kalamazoo to learn more about how they approach sustainability. Reserve your tour on their website.

Be green the next time you decide to go out with your friends for a cold one! Arcadia Brewing Company in Kalamazoo has a pet-friendly beer garden with direct access to the Kalamazoo River and Kalamazoo River Valley Trail. This means that you can get to Arcadia by kayaking, canoeing, biking, and walking. Instead of driving, hop on one of these trails next time you make your way to Arcadia. They also installed 536 solar panels in 2016, generating equivalent to roughly 25% of the brewery and tavern’s total consumption.

Virtue Cider in Fennville minimizes environmental impact in many aspects of their business. They purchase fruit direct from local farms in southwest Michigan, which keeps the supply chain short and their carbon footprint small. Their cider houses use extremely minimal climate control, just as traditional European cider makers did and still do today. In fact, their fermentation cider house is underground, which maintains a more consistent temperature year-round without climate control. You can view these facilities during one of their regularly offered tours. Additionally, the Michigan Agriculture Environmental Assurance Program named Virtue Cider an Environmentally Verified Farm in December 2016, a distinction that they are very proud to have earned.

The Mitten Brewing Company in Grand Rapids has successfully launched its new Sustainability Program. With the craft beer industry a driving force in the Michigan economy, it is important that they implement a program for environmental responsibility. In the first few months, they replaced much of their disposable materials, such as napkins, straws, and trash bags with eco-friendly industrial compostable alternatives. They have begun to track data and progress toward a more water efficient establishment, a task not easily undertaken in the brewing industry. Upcoming projects include partnerships with BarFly Ventures Sustainability Program as well as evaluating the energy efficiency of their buildings.

Barfly Ventures is working hard to be sustainable across all 14 of their locations. These include HopCat in Lansing, Kalamazoo, and Grand Rapids, Grand Rapids Brewing Company, and Stella’s Lounge in Grand Rapids, all of which participate in this program. Through their various sustainability efforts, Barfly Ventures has been able to divert waste, recycle, protect clean water, and be more energy efficient.

Brewery Terra Firma is a production brewery, tap room, and MAEAP certified farm located on 10 acres in Traverse City. They produce delicious, culinary-inspired beers using sustainable methods, including an innovative water capture system in their brewhouse, which has allowed them to reclaim over 185,000 gallons of water from the manufacturing process for reuse as irrigation and fertilization on their farm crops.

The purpose of Oryana Community Co-op in Traverse City is to provide high-quality food produced in ecologically sound ways at fair value to owners and the community. Oryana owners and staff are committed to enhancing their community through the practice of cooperative economics and education about the relationship of food to health.

Back in 2015, Chateau Chantal in Traverse City offset approximately 40% of their energy needs with a new 148.5 kW solar array by Harvest Energy Solutions. This is the largest solar install at a Michigan winery. All aspects of the project, including the design and manufacturing, are based in Michigan.

Waterfire Vineyards in Kewadin is committed to growing green, and the proof is in the frogs. Amphibians are very sensitive to chemical pollutants. The presence of frogs throughout their vineyards is one of the best indicators of their commitment to organic farming without toxins.

Things to Do While Going Green

When looking for eco-friendly practices and sustainability take notice of the historic architecture and charming small towns throughout West Michigan. They epitomize the green effort, and one of the shining examples of preservation in this part of the state is the historic Tibbits Opera House in Coldwater, built in 1882. According to the National Trust, “The greenest building is the one already built.” The organization affirms, “historic preservation is the very definition of sustainability: a smart, efficient way to reuse a community’s resources and keep its character at the same time.”

Saugatuck Antique Pavilion is not only reducing, reusing, and recycling, but they are also updating their lighting system throughout with LED lighting in an effort to cut down on energy use. Stop by the Saugatuck Antique Pavilion and save both money and the planet!

Park the car and make your way around Muskegon on your bike! They have over 100 miles of trails for you to explore, including the paved Musketawa Trail from Muskegon to Marne through farmlands, wetlands, and villages. When you bike through West Michigan, you’re saving the Earth from your car’s emissions, so give it a shot! The environment will thank you.

The business of vacationing itself in South Haven makes it easy to go green! Downtown, the river, beaches, and attractions are all within walking distance. You can easily park your car for a week and never have the need to drive, reducing greenhouse gas emissions. Enjoy the refreshingly clean breezes of South Haven!