Board Member Edition: Why I serve?

As a new member of the Green Living Science Board of Directors, I was interested in joining due to the organization’s mission of, “increasing awareness of environmental issues and personal responsibility through education,” and its alignment with my day job at the Department of Environment, Great Lakes, and Energy (EGLE). I’ve worked with Green Living Science on a few recycling-related projects in the past, and I have always appreciated the good work Green Living Science does educating kids in schools and working with communities in Detroit. I hope that I can help the organization continue to do this and amplify their work in the future.


At EGLE, we serve the public to co-create a Michigan that respects people, treasures our natural resources, and fosters thriving communities. We hope to achieve this by serving the public, making reasoned decisions, communicating effectively, practicing leadership, and investing in our team. We recognize that critical to this vision is supporting healthy Detroiters.

One area that my team is engaged in that intersects with businesses, communities, and the environment is the potentially revolutionary opportunity presented by the state of Michigan’s allocation of Volkswagen Diesel Emissions Settlement funds. The state of Michigan has been allocated nearly $65 million from court settlements to mitigate oxides of nitrogen (NOx). 

Through EGLE’s Fuel Transformation Program, we plan to use these funds to change the way people and freight move in Michigan. Over the next eight years, EGLE will provide grant money to fleet owners to modernize their vehicles by replacing their older diesel vehicles with new vehicles powered by clean diesel, alternate fuels, and electricity. The program will also support the development of an electric vehicle charging infrastructure and hydrogen fuel-cell refueling infrastructure to refuel light duty zero emission vehicles like you and I might drive. In fact, by the time this article is posted, we will have entered into a grant agreement to partially fund the first electric school buses in Michigan.

Over the past several years, we have worked successfully with multiple Detroit based organizations and fleet owners to upgrade older diesel vehicles, and we hope to accelerate the work we do in Detroit through the Fuel Transportation Program.  Currently, we are engaged in the ongoing work of the Southwest Detroit Truck Route Study Steering Committee, which was formed to evaluate the impact on neighborhoods from the construction of the Gordie Howe Bridge.  We are currently focused on outreach to truck companies to make them aware of the diesel vehicle replacement opportunities presented by the Fuel Transformation Program.  From this outreach, we hope to be able to assist with fleet upgrades resulting in cleaner air for the surrounding neighborhoods.

Diesel emissions from older diesel vehicles are not only immediately harmful to Michigan’s residents, but they contribute to long term damage to the environment and climate.  Contaminants from diesel exhaust include over 40 substances listed by the United States Environmental Protection Agency as either Hazardous Air Pollutants (California Air Resources Board, Scientific Review Panel, 1998 and McClellan, Hesterberg, & Wall, 2012) or Criteria Pollutants (or precursors to Criteria Pollutants, such as Nitric Oxides and Nitrogen Dioxide--both components of Oxides of Nitrogen).  Both Hazardous Air Pollutants and Criteria Pollutants have known adverse health impacts on humans.

When Oxides of Nitrogen chemically react with volatile organic compounds in the presence of sunlight, it forms a short-lived, but very harmful lung irritant – ground level ozone. Kids are vulnerable, as their lungs are still developing, and kids with asthma are particularly vulnerable. The Centers for Disease Control reports that 48 percent of children with asthma reported one or more asthma-related missed school days in 2007 (Centers for Disease Control, 2013), and it’s important that kids get to school.

Particulate Matter, another concern with diesel exhaust, consists of tiny particles that are small enough to be breathed into the deepest part of the lungs, where the contaminants are not easily coughed out, and can contact the blood stream. Children have a faster breathing rate than adults, and their lungs are not fully developed, so these health risks can greater for children than adults.

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The mission at EGLE is to protect Michigan’s environment and public health by managing air, water, land, and energy resources. We are committed to supporting healthy Detroiters by promoting the use of cleaner fuels and technologies through the Fuel Transformation Program. We hope to provide resources and grant opportunities to enable people to act locally and think globally. Ensuring healthy lives and promoting well-being for all at all ages is a United Nations Sustainable Development Goal.

By: Chad Rogers

Works Cited

California Air Resources Board, Scientific Review Panel. (1998, April 22). The Report on Diesel Exhaust. Retrieved from California Air Resources Board Web site:,including%20PAHs)%3B%20and%20styrene.

Centers for Disease Control. (2013). Asthma Facts. Centers for Disease Control. Retrieved from

McClellan, R. O., Hesterberg, T. W., & Wall, J. C. (2012, July). Evaluation of carcinogenic hazard of diesel engine exhaust needs to consider revolutionary changes in diesel technology. Regulatory Toxicology and Pharmacology, 63(2), 225-258.

Posted on September 17, 2019 .

Board Member Edition: Leaving a Healthy Planet for Future Generations

As a mom of two young children, ages 5 & 2, the state of our environment and climate change weighs heavy on my mind. I am constantly thinking about how the Earth will change in their lifetimes as well as their families, and how these changes will affect their quality of life. At times these thoughts can leave me with an overbearing sense of foreboding. As a working parent it can be overwhelming to manage day to day life and these types of thoughts. I was left thinking what can I do to make a difference.


It is in that mindset that I was determined to teach my children the importance of recycling, something that I have always been passionate about. I believe that education of both adults and children is imperative to achieve positive change. I began speaking with my daughter about recycling and talking to her as I would gather items for the recycle bin. When I was teaching her to throw things in the garbage I was sure to call out items that can be recycled and the process of placing them to the side for recycling. At age 5, it is now second nature to her in terms of what goes in the garbage and what we put in the recycle bin. In fact, at a party at a friend’s home she walked up to him and asked where she should put her can for recycling. It was a “proud mom” moment for me.

While I am happy to see my children learning and following my footsteps in terms of being cognizant of the Earth and making steps to invoke positive change, I know that this is not the norm for all homes and families. I was recently at a family party in which massive amounts of recyclable items were being thrown in the trash. While I was astounded that this still happens, I asked my cousin why. She mentioned that it was not easy to recycle in her neighborhood and she was too busy to make it a priority. I had a conversation about the long-term impacts and the future for our children and their children. It is examples like this that solidify the need for organizations like ours, Green Living Science, that are working hard to educate young and old on the importance of recycling. There is a lot of work to be done in this space, and we will continue to fight the fight so that we can leave a healthy planet for our future generations.


~ Rosana Laurain

Posted on July 17, 2019 .

Board Member Edition: Top 7 Artists Changing the Way We See Detroit

During the 2000’s, Detroit’s artistic contributions were often defined by ruin-porn, post-apocalyptic imagery and vacancy.  Although symbolic of the city’s drastic decline, this context became the canvas for a new generation of young artists who are redefining our aesthetic. 


For six years running, Green Living Science, a Detroit based sustainability education non-profit, has harnessed its annual fundraiser to help showcase the talents of this new era of Detroit artists.  Artists with a passion for the environment have donated their works to the organization’s annual “Art & Amble” fundraiser.  This event offers a grassroots platform to elevate the artist’s work in an accessible and approachable manner.  This accessibility, in turn, has allowed even the most modest patron the opportunity to get to know – and even collect – the artists. 

Here are seven artists who are inspiring us to see Detroit differently – many of whom have donated to Art & Amble in the past.

1.       John Sauve – Let’s start-off by looking up.  John Sauve’s most visible work, the Man in the City installation features sculptures of a Stetson wearing silhouette of a gentleman that has been sprinkled across the rooftops of Detroit.  This installation, in all of its unmistakable construction cone orange glory, challenges us to abandon our conventional notion of a world where our sightlines are always pointed at the horizon.  His sculptures can also be found on the Detroit riverfront and downtown Birmingham. 


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Image Credit:

2.       Nicole Macdonald – Macdonald’s often monumental pieces’include an emotional depth and warmth that invites the viewer to experience the heroisms of her subject matter.  Her project, Detroit Portrait Series featured well known luminaries such as Rosa Parks, Malcolm X and Hazen Pingree, as well as lesser sung civil rights heroes and Detroiters like Father Clement Kern, Grace Lee Boggs, Michael Aston, aka "Dreadlock Mike".  Macdonald’s portraits expertly capture gestalt of the subject, while deftly encouraging activism.  Her socially engaging stencils, murals and other installations can be found throughout the city.


3.       Shades – Antonio “Shades” Agee was arguably the first Detroit graffiti artist to help bring the previously subversive medium into the mainstream.  Shades was one of the first recognizable local graffiti artists, one of the first to be hired to paint a corporate space and one of the first to bring his work to Eastern Market’s “Murals in the Market”.  Not just limiting his pioneering work to our built environment, Shades used his interview in a 2015 National Geographic article to coin the powerful quote “You can’t save Detroit.  You gotta be Detroit.” 


4.       Carl Oxley – Oxley has been splashing his happy, playful monkeys and bunnies across the city for a while now.  No stranger to controversy, Oxley (AKA the Popartmonkey) was involved in the high-profile “disinstallation” of a Banksy work from the Packard Plant, as well as his recent arrest for painting a mural without permission in Royal Oak.  His reputation as a troublemaker belies an aesthetic that brings charm, vibrancy and “cuteness” to areas or our city that are otherwise drab or industrial. 


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Image Credit:

5.       Ryan Doyle – Game of Thrones meets Mad Max is probably the best mashup to describe Ryan’s work.  His creations usually revolve around turning a car or other vehicle into a fire breathing creature hell bent on entertaining the masses.  Doyle’s well known for his collaboration Gon Kirin, a 64 foot, 70,000 lb fire breathing dragon with a DJ booth.  Need we say more?  If you’ve chased the Nain Rouge in March, joined the burners at Burning Man or simply spent an evening next to the bon fire at the Lincoln Street Art park, odds are that you’ve experienced the excitement and scale that is Ryan’s work. 


6.       George Vidas – If you’ve seen (or heard) a neon light in Detroit, you can bet George made it.  Vidas’ ability to bend and shape glass and bring it to life with neon gas has brought light and color to stores, restaurants, bars and performance art across the city.  Originally from the west coast, George’s luminous and experimental art forged out of his Signifier Signs studio in Detroit. 


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Image Credit:

7.       Sydney James – Last, but certainly not least on this list is Sydney James.  Detroit born and bred, James began her career as an art agent in Los Angeles before returning home to Detroit.  Her involvement in high-profile community art projects like the Red Bull House of Art Residency and Murals in the Market elevated her profile.  James best known work involves large-scale murals that depict strong images of African American women.  Come see the work of James and other world class muralists at Eastern Market’s Murals in the Market.


This new class of Detroit artists are innovating, collaborating and providing us with a new lexicon to help us examine our environment and our community.  While the people and landscape of Detroit provides them with the inspiration they require to tell our story, all artists ultimately need patronage.  Building a collection can often feel intimidating for the novice.  Events like Art & Amble offer those who desire an affordable, accessible platform for learning about art, meeting local artists and beginning to build a collection.  And it is only through the act of patronage that we can provide these amazingly talented individuals with the resources they need to take Detroit’s art scene to even greater heights.


During the day, Matthew Roling is the Chair of Wayne State’s Accounting Department.In his spare time, he is an art history nerd, traveler, and modest collector of local art.Join him and other aspiring art collectors, sustainability leaders and generally cool people for Green Living Sciences “Art & Amble” Event this Thursday May 16th at the Tangent Gallery from 6-9 pm.

Posted on May 15, 2019 .

Detroit has Curbside Recycling??

A very common question we receive! But it’s hard to believe it has been almost 5 years since Detroit embarked on a journey toward a citywide recycling program. The city started the initiative as an opt-in program where residents could purchase a 64 gallon blue recycling container and have it serviced every other week by their waste hauler, Green For Life Environmental or Advanced Disposal.

3rd grade student from FLICS sent us a playful picture after he received his recycling cart!

3rd grade student from FLICS sent us a playful picture after he received his recycling cart!

While Green Living Science did not entirely agree with the opt-in aspect of the program, we understood the rationale. You cannot give out recycling carts and expect everyone to use it properly, especially with 207,974 residents who are eligible. This type of education is not always as simple as a flier plopped in the cart either. People interpret the meanings of certain materials differently, for instance “plastic” does not mean you can recycle plastic bags, candy wrappers, or chip bags; and “paper” does not mean you can recycle paper towels or paper plates!

With all the waste we create today, from milk jugs to packaging peanuts, it can be difficult to determine what materials are accepted in the curbside recycling program. That is why Green Living Science partners with the City of Detroit – Department of Public Works to provide free recycling carts to Detroit residents who receive education. Over the past 4 years, we have been going to block club meetings in church basements, parent meetings at schools and community events across Detroit. To date, we have signed up nearly 15,000 residents for a free recycling cart!

With a city the size of Detroit, it can be difficult to reach every resident. That is why Green Living Science helped to create an online quiz to reach more residents and at their convenience. Don’t worry it is not a pass or fail type of quiz like in 10th grade math class! It takes less than 5 minutes and asks residents to identify where different household waste materials should go; in their curbside recycling cart, their garbage can or the City of Detroit drop off recycling center, Recycle Here!

After hosting nearly 250 workshops it is time to get creative to reach more Detroiters and we need your help! Connect us with your Detroit group! It’s easy; simply visit to host a Green Living Science representative at your next block club meeting, parent meeting or community event! With your help, together we can create a more sustainable city where everyone has access to recycling at their home.