Promoting Environmentally Sustainable Behaviors in First-Year Students

Author: Maya Saterson (Page 1 of 2)

Electric Vehicles

EV Critiques

The main critiques of electric vehicles (EV) include (1) A limited driving range making  cars less reliable for long trips and requiring precise planning and inconvenient stops, and in cold weather — a particularly significant consideration for Vermonters– driving range goes down by ~40%. (2) Long charging times of up to 8 hours can be inconvenient for long distances or people without access to private chargers.(3) A lack of charging infrastructure can be a challenge depending on location. While it is becoming more common to see accessible chargers, with the increase in EV, there will be more competition for use of public chargers unless more chargers are also installed. Also, in urban areas (like Burlington) where EV owners do not have as much space (private garages), they will have to rely on public chargers. (4) Limited choices make it difficult for consumers who need cars for specific purposes. With the exception of Tesla, most of the major car companies only have one option available, many of which are smaller sedans that may not be suitable for all needs. (5) High Initial Cost. The most affordable EV currently on the market is around $30,000. The costs are coming down due to more tax incentives (and programs like RYR) and because with better technology and more information, they are becoming easier to produce. (6) Maintenance. EV often require less maintenance than traditional cars, however, most mechanics are not qualified to work on EV. Usually owners will have to go to the dealership which can be far away from some remote places in Vermont. Luckily, it is likely that there will be an increase in qualified mechanics due to the increasing number of EV on the roads. 

Replace Your Ride in VT

The primary goal of Replace Your Ride (RYR) is to reduce the greenhouse gas emissions from transportation in Vermont by helping low-income Vermonters affordably move towards clean methods of transportation. This program will offer up to $3,000 in cash as an incentive for low-income Vermonters to switch from an older, high-polluting vehicle to a clean transportation option (new or used electric vehicle, plug-in hybrid, electric bike or motorcycle, or voucher for public transit, or private ride hailing services). In combination with other incentives (both state and federal), this program could help bring the price of a new EV down to as low as $8,000. The beneficiaries of this program include households with an Adjusted Gross Income of $50,000 or less and the eligible vehicles include those with a Model Year of 2010 or older. The performance of this program will be measured through (1) the dollar value of funding spent per GHG saved, (2) the number of low income households served, (3) the number of vehicles scrapped per year and the MPG saved, (4) the number of vehicles purchased or leased, and (5) the number of non-vehicle options selected. The funding of this program is from the VT State Legislature.

Charging Stations and Electric Vehicles By County

This map shows a comparison between charging infrastructure and number of EV’s by county. This map can be used to see which counties need infrastructure improvements so that EV’s can be more accessible and convenient everywhere. Note that the most electric vehicles and best charging infrastructure are located in Burlington. It is very common for EV to be most prevalent in wealthier, urban/suburban areas.

More Readings!

Read more about Electric (and Hybrid Vehicles) at New York Times!

Content taken from Replace Your Ride, ENVS0401, Spring 2021

Sachi Howson, William Robertson, Raquel Smith and Maya Saterson

Is Indonesia Really Sinking?

Indonesia has varying water quality and accessibility throughout the country, but Jakarta, the capital of Indonesia, provides valuable insights into one region’s specific situation. Over forty percent of Jakarta is below sea level as a result of land subsidence and sea level rise. The lack of piped water leads many individual households and even large industries to drill wells so that they can access groundwater. As the water underground is being depleted, sediments in the subsurface experience compaction, causing the city to sink, leading to even more flooding. In the past ten years, Jakarta has sunk more than two and a half meters (Lin & Hidayat, 2018). Small homes, closer to the sea, are experiencing a magnified impact. Residents are moving their furniture to second floors, finding cracks in the foundation of their homes and some even live with permanent, stagnant floodwater on their ground floors. The relaxed regulations allow almost anyone to drill a well and extract water, and because Jakarta’s water management authorities are only able to meet 40% of the city’s water needs, the population resorts to taking unregulated water straight from the ground (Lin & Hidayat, 2018). Moreover, there are no city-wide solid waste management plans in Jakarta. The city’s waste collection is mainly contracted out to private companies; wealthier areas pay more, leaving poorer locations full of garbage which is often discarded in the streets or nearby canals and rivers (IFRC, 2013).

A Case Study: Indonesian Water Management

Indonesia has almost 8,000 watersheds, and 5,700 rivers, divided into over 131 river basins. Three key institutes help monitor and manage water quality in Indonesia. The Ministry of Environment and Forestry monitors water quality and pollution control and reports findings annually. River basin organizations also assist in conducting sampling, laboratory measurement of water samples, and water patrol. Lastly, the Ministry of Health is tasked with the protection and improvement of public health, regulation of drinking water standards, and monitoring of drinking water quality provided by water supply agencies (Asian Development Bank, 2016).

The government is responsible for setting water quality targets for individual water systems and rivers. The targets can be changed every year if the water quality has improved. Some local governments choose to set more strict effluent targets for industrial discharges into water resources within their jurisdiction. In Indonesia, water quality is classified into four groups. Class I is the water that can be used as standard water for drinking purposes; Class II is the water used for water recreation, fresh fish preservation, livestock, water for irrigation, and other usages requiring the similar quality; Class III is water that is used for machinery or at facilities of fresh fish preservation, livestock, water for irrigation, and/or other usages requiring the similar quality; and finally, Class IV is water that is used solely for irrigation, and other usages requiring similar quality (Asian Development Bank, 2016).

What’s cookin good lookin?

Potatoes and Nutrition 

Although potatoes are considered a starch, they are rich in vitamins, minerals and antioxidants. They are also unprocessed making them healthier than say bread or pasta. Some health benefits include improved blood sugar control, reduced heart disease risk and higher immunity.

Potato inspiration, how can you spice up that plain potato? 

  • Butter
  • Salt and/or pepper 
  • (Brown) Sugar 
  • Mashed potatoes 
  • Cheese  

Homemade Potato Chip Recipe (Note: you will need a sharp knife)

  1. Wash potato 
  2. Cut potato into thin slices (⅙ to ⅛ inch thick) 
  3. Put the slices immediately into water and soak for 1-2 min 
  4. Rinse the potato slices until the water runs clear 
  5. Drain the slices and pat dry with paper towel 
  6. Arrange in single layer on paper towel on microwave safe plate 
  7. Season with salt (and pepper) 
  8. Microwave for 3 minutes
  9. Flip the chips and microwave for 3 more minutes 
  10. Remove crispy chips and microwave in 1 minute intervals until desired crunchiness 

Food Matters: How Your Eating Habits Can Help Save the Earth

Don’t worry, this is not another blog post telling you that you SHOULD be a vegan or vegetarian! Instead, we are here to help you make environmentally-friendly food, in a microwave! Now you might be asking yourself, is a microwave even eco-friendly in the first place? 

About 60 percent of our conventional ovens are powered by electricity, not gas—and they’re less efficient than standard microwaves. In the first place, conventional ovens operate at a higher wattage—about 3,000, compared with something between 600 and 1,650 for a microwave. They also cost us energy by cooking food more slowly. One University of Bristol study found that a chicken cooked in a convection microwave resulted in energy savings of 30 percent over a conventional electric oven. 

Microwaves do have a few other environmental advantages. For one thing, they produce a lot less indoor air pollution than other cooking methods. Plus, they don’t heat up your house the way an oven can, which means lower energy costs associated with both your A/C and your refrigerator. Heating up a meal on the plate you intend to eat off of also means fewer dishes to wash—although regular use of your microwave might encourage higher consumption of ready-to-eat convenience meals and all their extra packaging.

Food waste is an important environmental consideration: Not only does it mean more garbage, it also means squandering all the resources that went into growing, storing, and preparing that food. Therefore, although the amount of energy that you consume while preparing the food matters, it is just as important for you to ensure that you do not waste that food! 

This blog post is from the Slate Article titled, Are Microwave Ovens Good for the Environment? 

Don’t stop beleafing… we’re halfway there!

This week’s event with Energy2028 First-Year Eco-Breaks is Terrarium Making! 

Since it’s probably too cold for you to garden outside now, we are offering you an opportunity to indoor garden with terrariums, giving your room some greenery and life while the leaves slowly fall outside. 

What is a terrarium? A terrarium is a small, typically sealed container, and has a base of gravel, charcoal, moss, and soil. This environment supports the growth of a miniature garden of moisture-loving plants. The plants draw moisture from the soil and evaporate it through their leaves, through transpiration. Water droplets form and drip down the sides of the container, returning to the soil. This process mimics nature’s water cycle, and sustains plant life. 

Here’s a picture of what you could have! 

Terrariums can look like a fairy garden, with pebble paths, toadstools on mossy hills, tucked away cottages, and animals peering through lush foliage. It can also look like a woodland hike that you miss, with plants like ivy, bugleweed, baby tears and peperomia. 

We will provide all the supplies you need to unleash your imagination at this very moment! All you need to do is sign up and we will deliver the supplies to your dorm! 

Sustainability Trivia

Since this week’s theme for the Energy2028 First Year Eco-Breaks is Sustainability Trivia, we are posting some cool nature and sustainability facts below! We think they are cool, and we hope you do too! 

  1. The term sustainability was coined in the 1987 Brundtland Report, which officially defined sustainable development for the first time. 
  2. The concept of a circular economy looks beyond societies’ current take-make-dispose model to create a more restorative economy which designs out waste, keeps products and materials in use for as long as possible, and regenerates natural systems. 
  3. Human-induced emissions of CO2 need to fall by 45% from its 2010 levels by 2030 to reach net-zero by 2050 and limit the climate change catastrophe. 
  4. Recycling one ton of paper saves 17 trees. 
  5. The world’s indigenous population makes up only 5% of the global population, but protects upto 80% of its global biodiversity. 
  6. Landfills are composed of 35% packaging materials.
  7. A glass bottle made today will take more than 4,000 years to decompose. 
  8. Only 1% of China’s 560 million city residents breathe air that is considered safe by the European Union. 
  9. The human population has grown more in the last 50 years than it did in the previous 4 million years. 
  10. If the entire world lived like the average American, we would need 5 Earths to provide enough resources. 

We got these facts from: WebEcoist, The World Counts, and the Sustainability Management School of Switzerland. Know any other cool facts you’d like to share? Comment below! 

The top prize for the trivia winner is a 4Ocean Bracelet! 4Ocean is a purpose-driven business, founded in Bali, Indonesia, that hopes to help end the ocean plastic crisis. They are committed to the highest sustainability and accountability standards. 

Join us for a synchronous session on Zoom! Password: 435422

Protect the Pollinators!

So you may wonder, why our activity was apple tasting? 

  • Each year Vermont growers produce around 1,000,000 bushels (or about 40 million pounds) of apples.
  • Vermont orchards grow more than 150 varieties of apples.
  • The McIntosh is the most important apple grown in Vermont accounting for about 50% of Vermont’s apple crop.
  • Local Food 

Beside apples, other local major crops that rely heavily on insect pollination include almonds, blueberries, melons, and squash. Some additional produce that require the help of pollinators are strawberries, chocolate, peaches, figs, cucumbers, and tomatoes. Many of which, you can find in The Knoll

Pollinators are responsible for assisting over 80% of the world’s flowering plants to reproduce. Without them, humans and wildlife would not have much to eat or look at! They include animals that assist plants with their reproduction and range from bees, bats, birds, butterflies, and even beetles. 

Bee The Change 

This is also a good time for you to know about Bee the Change, a Vermont-based family farm using the unused space in solar fields to support threatened pollinators and bees. Their first field was installed in May 2016, and in their first year, there were 34 unique pollinator encounters in a 15 minute period. The next year, they surveyed the same plots and encountered 174 unique pollinators in 15 minutes. 

Mike Kiernan, the founder, has internships for Middlebury students to work on Bee the Change every year! 

Single use PPE is clogging our oceans!

Why did we decide this “sew your own face mask” activity was relevant? 

  • You can never have too many face masks 
  • Sewing is an important life skill everyone should know 
  • Single-use PPE from COVID-19 has increased the amount of plastic waste throughout the world, specifically in our oceans  

What do masks do? 

Masks are a simple barrier to help prevent respiratory droplets from traveling into the air and onto other people when the person wearing the mask coughs, sneezes, talks, or raises their voice. 

Why should everyone wear a mask?  

  • COVID-19 spreads mainly among people who are in close contact with one another
  • The CDC recommends that people wear masks in public settings, especially when other social distancing measures are difficult to maintain
  • Wearing a mask helps prevent spreading the virus to others (you could be positive and not know it!) 
  • Masks are most likely to reduce the spread of COVID-19 when they are widely used by people in public settings 
  • Please visit the CDC Website for more information  

How has COVID-19 Impacted the Environment in General? 

Positive Impacts 

  • A reduction in CO2 and drop in air pollution due to fewer people traveling and less industrial activity
  • In Venice, water in the canals cleared and experienced greater water flow
  • Decreased demand for fish and fish prices→ there are signs of aquatic recovery
  • In the United States, fatal vehicle collisions with animals such as deer, elk, moose, bears, mountain lions fell by 58% during March and April
  • Sea turtles spotted laying eggs on beaches they once avoided due to the lowered levels of human interference and light pollution

Negative Impacts 

  • The UN’s COP26 climate change conference which was set to be held in November 2020, has been postponed
  • More people are shopping online which increases the amounts of packaging and individual’s carbon footprints
  • US Cities are pausing recycling programs because they don’t think it counts as essential work
  • A decrease in carbon emissions has led governments to divert attention away from green issues  
  • Increase in poaching (specifically in Africa) because people have no alternative sources of income
  • Increased illegal deforestation in the Amazon  

In conclusion, COVID-19 has brought temporary changes to our lifestyle providing evidence that actions can be taken to decrease the threat of climate change. However, these benefits are not significant enough to mitigate climate change all together. There is no doubt that something needs to be done about climate change and now we have actual proof that our actions can positively affect the issue. We need to prioritize climate change because it is coming faster than we may think! 

Here are some more sources incase you want to learn more about how COVID-19 has/will affect the environment!


  1. What the Coronavirus Means for Climate Change
  2. The Coronavirus and The Climate Movement
  3. Coronavirus set to cause largest ever annual fall in CO2 emissions
  4. A ‘mass experiment’ for the climate
  5. Cities Wonder Whether Recycling Counts as Essential During the Virus


Seen from space: COVID-19 and the environment

Why Coronavirus won’t save the environment | COVID-19 and climate

Nature Inspired Art Pieces

Nature has been a muse to so many poets and painters over the past centuries, up until today. With art as a lens, artists have been able to draw attention to some of the most pressing matters in human and environmental affairs. Here are a few of the most famous nature-inspired art works: 

  1. Van Gogh: “Irises”, 1889
1 Van Gogh Irises

Although Van Gogh’s work was more popular posthumous than they were in his lifetime, nature greatly influenced his work. From Sunflowers to Irises, his paintings of flowers have a life of their own on his canvases. 

  1. Paul Cezanne: “Mont Sainte-Victoire”, 1895
3 cezanne

A little more obscure to non-art buffs, Paul Cezanne sought to depict human forms and buildings as simply an extension from the natural landscape – blending in almost seamlessly to the side of the hills – the inherent quality of the landscape giving it its light and color. 

  1. Claude Monet: “Water Lilies”, 1919
4 water lillies

A celebrated Impressionist of his time, Monet’s nature paintings are well known in the history of art. He promoted direct contact to nature and used it to develop new trends in painting. 

  1. Georgia O’Keeffe: “Waterfall, No 1, ‘Iao Valley Maui”, 1939
5 georgia okeeffe

Famous for her abstracted paintings of the American desert, not many people knew that O’Keeffe spent several months in Maui, one of the lush islands of Hawaii. This painting serves as a tribute to the land, untouched by human development or pollution. Seeing the purity of the landscape is a religious experience for anyone who visits Hawaii. 

  1. Winslow Homer: “Gloucester Harbor”, 1873
File:Gloucester Harbor Winslow Homer 1873.jpeg - Wikimedia Commons

A self-taught American artist, Homer was fascinated with nature and used the traditional oil medium to paint his landscape and marine subjects during his working vacations. His painting of Gloucester Harbor showcases the beauty of color, the shifting light, and the serene atmosphere of the vacation at sea. 

We hope these paintings inspired you for the watercolor painting activity this week! 

Post Written By: Monique Santoso

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