EcoDorms 2025

Promoting Environmentally Sustainable Behaviors in First-Year Students

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Bake a Cake With Your Microwave!

Mug cake recipe - microwave mug cake

You can do many more things with a microwave than just reheating your leftovers. There are many common desserts that you can make using a microwave: mug cakes, puddings, brownies, fudge, and even apple crisp.

If you’d prefer savory snacks, you could also make “baked” potatos and potato chips within a couple of minutes. Even bread and pizza can be baked with a microwave! You can find plenty of creative microwave recipes online — for starters, check out these desserts that you can easily make with a microwave.

Crispy Microwave Potato Chips - Gemma's Bigger Bolder Baking
Yes, you can make these with a microwave

Plus, baking with microwaves has plenty of advantages over using conventional ovens:

  • Microwaves consume much less energy than ovens. Choosing to cook the same food with a microwave over an oven can save from 30% to as much as 80% energy, according to ENERGY STAR.
    • This is because the heating process works differently for microwaves and ovens. When you turn on an oven, electricity heats up metal elements in the oven. With the help of a fan to evenly distribute heat, the temperature slowly increases over the entire chamber, and this in turn heats up the food. A microwave, by contrast, makes use of electromagnetic radiation to generate vibration in water particles inside the food. This means that energy is efficiently used to heat just the food itself, not on the entire chamber.
  • Microwaves also cook food faster than conventional ovens do. A microwave typically cooks 25% faster than a convection oven. Also, there is no preheating needed since microwaves heat up the food directly.
  • Microwaves are more affordable! Not only do they cost less at purchase, but they also save you energy costs during usage.

Here are some tips for microwave baking:

  • Adjust the timing based on the features of your own microwave. Microwaves can differ in wattage — those with higher wattages bake faster. So it would be a good idea to initially set a shorter baking time than the recipe, in case your microwave has a higher wattage than expected.
  • Change positions to avoid uneven heating. One shortcoming of microwaves is that heat might not be distributed as evenly as in an oven. You could solve this problem by rotating the pan or changing the positioning of your food halfway.
  • Use microwave-safe containers. Especially, do not put any metalware in the microwave.

So maybe try making some easy and quick microwave brownies or potato chips next time! And feel free to share a picture to our instagram @midd_ecodorms to get featured in our posts!

Sources

https://www.appliancecity.co.uk/cooking/microwaves/the-difference-between-microwaves-and-conventional-ovens/

https://www.cosmopolitan.com/food-cocktails/a6110/microwave-foods/

https://smartkitchenimprovement.com/convection-oven-vs-microwave/

https://thehappyfoodie.co.uk/articles/how-to-use-your-microwave-to-bake-cakes/

Middlebury’s Outdoor Gear Room and How to Use It

The Middlebury Mountain Club (MMC) has been around since 1931, providing Middlebury students with guided outdoor trips, including hiking, backpacking and canoeing. The Gear Room allows all students to participate on these trips, regardless of experience level or whether they have their own personal gear. The Director of Outdoor Programs is Doug Connelly, but it’s majorly students that run the gear room itself.

Gear hours are held every Tuesday and Thursday from 4:30-6:30pm in the basement of the FIC. If you don’t know where it is, it’s the building to the right of BiHall and in front of Coffrin Hall. Students can borrow sleeping bags, sleeping pads, hiking boots, tents, bear canisters, stoves, fuel, rainwear, headlamps, water purification kits, first aid kits, nordic skis and more. Gear can be checked out for one week intervals, although it can be renewed. Make sure to return your gear on time, or you’ll face a $5 per item overdue charge that can pile up, depending on the number of items you’ve checked out! 

The Middlebury Mountain Club (MMC)’s website has some great information on How to pack for backpacking. Whether you’re a newbie or a seasoned veteran, this can be a great resource before going on any of their trips, especially overnight trips, or if you choose to plan a trip yourself. 

Check out 9 of the best hikes in Middlebury and the surrounding area under the Resource page and add them to your Middlebury bucket list!

Looking for Some Stellar Hikes Around Middlebury? Add These to Your Bucket List!

There are plenty of hikes with varying degrees of difficulty in Middlebury and the surrounding area. While the MMC often leads trips to many of these locations, you can also grab some friends and head out to any of these trailheads on your own (Chipman and the TAM are accessible on foot from campus, but the rest are accessible by car). Below is a list of the best hiking/walking trails we have to offer you! All of these hikes can be found online by looking up the bolded names below. AllTrails is an especially great resource.

Chipman Hill

While there are three access points, we recommend that you use the road up past the Swift House Inn, right before Route 7. Once you pass the Inn, take your first left and follow the road until you see the gated entrance to your right. According to the MMC, “At the end of the steepest ascent on this trail, is a clearing surrounded by towering white pines. And there is a conveniently placed picnic table and bench with excellent views of town and the college.” This is a great place for a winter hike without spikes because the ascent is gradual and the trail is wide. There are also some fun places to sled. A little known fun fact is that Middlebury College built a small ski facility on Chipman Hill where Winter Carnival races were hosted during WWII. The old ski jump hill is still there and is a great, albeit a bit steep, place to sled after a big snow!

Length: 2.0 mi

Elevation gain: 364 ft

Snake Mountain 

Snake Mountain is the most classic Midd hike. By the end of your time here if you do any hike I would recommend this one. It’s considered best June through October, but can be hiked at virtually any time, even peak winter. With spikes from the Gear Room you can hike without worrying about patches of ice that you’re guaranteed to come across, but if you’re careful they aren’t necessary. About a third of the way up you’ll come to a divide in the trail. Make sure you stay left and you’ll arrive at great views of the Champlain valley before you know it. If you hike it in late spring or summer, you’ll come across bright orange lizards that almost look like rubber toys, but they aren’t, so be careful not to step on them! If it’s warm enough, or even if it isn’t, we’d recommend a picnic with friends at the top. On the other hand, a less trafficked day, being alone on top of Snake can be a rather meditative experience. You can witness a beautiful sunrise if you’re an early riser, since the overlook is facing East, but sunsets are also great. 

Length: 5.4 mi

Elevation gain: 1,062 ft

Snake Mountain at sunset.
Snake Mountain at sunrise.

Skylight Pond Trail

Skylight Pond has no “view” at the top, per say, but there is (as the name suggests) a beautiful pond and a cabin with a porch where you can stop to have a picnic or spend the night. You can check out a sleeping bag, pack, and other essentials from the Gear Room and spend the night with a group in the cabin. There’s no way to book it, however, so you have to hope that nobody else gets there first! A safe way to ensure you have a sheltered place to spend the night is to bring tents from the Gear Room as well. Directions are here

Length: 5 mi

Elevation gain: 1,480 ft

View of Skylight Pond from outside the Cabin.
View of the Skylight Pond from inside the cabin.
Hike up to Skylight Pond

Silver Lake Trail 

Silver Lake Trail is the perfect hike if you want the water view of Skylight Pond, but with a less strenuous, gradual ascent. It’s recommended to go between April and October, but similar to other hikes you can go outside of this time period. There are picnic tables at the campground upon arrival and in the summer you can swim in the lake if it’s not too cold. Alternatively, if you choose to go in the fall there’s incredible fall foliage surrounding the lake!

Length: 5.3 mi

Elevation gain: 711 ft

View of Silver Lake from the shore in summer.

Mt. Abraham

Mt. Abraham, named after President Abraham Lincoln and affectionately nicknamed Mt. Abe, is probably the toughest hike that will be listed here, but it’s also one of the most worth it, as it’s the fifth highest peak in VT. It has a 1hr 15min round trip driving time and is rated hard on most trail sites. It is best hiked from May to October, but can be hiked outside these months with the suggestion of spikes. From the Long Trail access (the Lincoln Gap parking lot), the route is approximately 5.1 miles in total. In 1973, a plane crashed and landed at about 3,000 ft elevation on the mountain. The pilot survived the crash, but part of the plane remains and you can see it on the hike. It’s the last bit of the hike, however, that in my opinion, sets Mt. Abe apart from the rest: slabs of slanted rock require the hiker to stay vigilant as they scamper up to the top. The summit boasts a 360 degree view of three states’ mountains: the Green Mountains (specifically Killington Peak, the second highest peak in VT), the White Mountains and the Adirondacks, along with Lake Champlain. It can be quite windy, so make sure to bring layers. Camping is also available at the Battell Shelter about 1.1 miles up from the parking lot.

Length: 5.1 mi

Elevation gain: 1,765 ft

Robert Frost Interpretive Trail 

(Taken from Go Take a Hike! An article in the Middlebury Campus.)

The Robert Frost Trail can be found along Route 125 between Middlebury and Breadloaf and is accessible year round. It’s an easy loop: about one mile, mainly flat and takes about 45 minutes to complete. Frost’s poems are mounted along the trail to contemplate, and the trail meanders across and alongside a stream. Plants such as birch trees and wild raisin are identified with wooden signs. During the summer, there are blueberries to pick and the forest is green and lush. In the winter, the trees may be bare, but they create a dramatic contrast with the sparkling white snow.

Length: 0.9 mi

Elevation gain: 49 ft

TAM Class of  ‘97 trail

This section of the TAM is located on Middlebury’s campus and was designed and built by senior Environmental Studies students in conjunction with MALT. It begins right across from the athletic center off of Route 30 and is marked by a sign labeled “The Colin T. O’Neill Trail… dedicated by the class of ‘97.5.” You’ll find a beautiful reflection on the origin of this trail and namesake here: https://middkid.com/outdoor-guide/hiking/trails-around-middlebury/the-colin-t-oneill-trail/. The trail itself begins with a relatively steep decline with lots of rocks and roots on the path, so watch your footing. It then pops out onto a flatter trail where you can choose to take a right or a left. If you choose to take a left, you’ll find yourself in a big open field that you’ll run around the perimeter of to eventually reach Route 125 where you can cross over to reach the Knoll and choose to continue on or head back to campus from the path that ends with the solar panels. If you’re looking for a shorter hike/walk/run, head right and you’ll find yourself in the Ridgeline parking lot from which you can head back up to the center of campus.

Length: 3 mi

Elevation gain: 128 ft

Buck Mountain Trail 

For how short this hike is, it has one of the best views. If you’re someone who always wants to do a sunrise hike but can’t get out of bed early enough to get to the summit by sunrise, Buck is for you! With relatively low elevation gain and a short length, it’s the perfect short hike with a view, specifically recommended between May and October. To avoid the muddy section at the beginning, especially in the spring, take the cut-off trail a bit farther down the road. While the sun actually rises behind you at the summit, you’ll find that the sun landing on the land below you and the Adirondacks in the distance are actually almost as beautiful as the sunrise itself. The summit itself is very spacious and I’d recommend exploring to the right once you pop out of the trail. Located close to Vergennes, the MMC recommends grabbing something to eat before or after your hike at the Vergennes Laundry, a popular bakery. Directions to the trailhead are here, but make sure you only park in the marked spots near the trailhead because there is a limit to the number of people on the trail at a time as it is on private property. 

Length: 2.5 mi

Elevation gain: 554 ft

Buck Mountain at sunrise.

Snow Bowl to Worth Mountain 

To access parking for this trail, head past the SnowBowl for about a mile and it’ll be on your right. Make sure to go slowly, especially if you’re driving in the dark, or there’s a good chance you’ll miss it. This trail is accessible year-round, but especially great for Fall sunrises during peak foliage. It’s pretty well-known and frequented by Middlebury students, so don’t be surprised if you run into other college-aged kids. The first break from the woods lands you in an open space that’s great to watch the sunrise from, but if you keep going through a shorter wooded continuation of the trail, you’ll reach the upper chairlift. It’s normally stopped just on top so that you can climb up onto the chair to watch the sunrise or you can walk down the hill below it. On your way back down try to find the detour that takes you to Pleiad Lake! Or, if you’re short on time, head here from the start and then straight back down for 1 mile out and back with a 219 ft elevation gain.

Length: 4.7 mi

Elevation gain: 1,407 ft

SnowBowl Summit
Chairlifts at sunrise.
Pleiad Lake during peak fall foliage.
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Check out this Middlebury Campus article from 2019 in which 4 students describe their experience with four of the hikes listed above! https://www.middleburycampus.com/article/2019/04/go-take-a-hike-hit-the-trails-this-spring 

A More Conscious Thanksgiving

I am always excited when Thanksgiving approaches – a break from school, time with family, and delicious meals that are only eaten once a year (or every week in Ross). But since learning more about the impact our food has on the environment, the traditional Thanksgiving meal doesn’t hold the same appeal. As highlighted by the Our World In Data graphic below, meat and other animal products lead to some of the greatest carbon emissions within the food industry. One of our sustainability coordinators, Evelyn Lane, also wrote a great blog post about food and the impact of veganism. 

This Thanksgiving I’ve decided to swap some of my family’s typical Thanksgiving dishes with vegan alternatives. In this post, I will be highlighting some of the recipes I plan on trying and encourage you all to try a vegan swap too! I know this is a hard sell. As much as I understand the benefits of being vegetarian or vegan, I have found it difficult to make the commitment. If I am being honest, I don’t think I would ever be able to completely give up bulgogi or ice cream. But I have found that making easy swaps and limiting my overall consumption of meat and other animal products is extremely doable. And this Thanksgiving I won’t be eliminating all animal products from the dinner table, but rather swapping out what I can. Even replacing one traditional dish with a vegan one makes an impact!

Vegan Recipes

All some recipes require is an easy swap! I will be following this stuffing recipe, which skips the butter and uses vegetable stock. Veggies are another easy side dish. These green beans look great!

Image courtesy of Delish

These mashed potatoes use vegan butter instead of regular butter. Try out this mushroom gravy with vegetable broth along with it! Instead of mashed potatoes, you could also try out mashed butternut squash.

Image courtesy of Love and Lemons

Replacing turkey is a bit harder, but one easy swap is a pre-made tofurkey. EcoDorm’s recommendation is Trader Joe’s Breaded Turkey-less Stuffed Roast. I might also try to make a vegan ‘meatloaf,’ or perhaps go an alternative route and try Middlebury’s favorite – black pepper tofu

Can’t forget dessert! This pumpkin pie with coconut milk looks delicious!

I hope this blog post gave you some inspiration! If you try any of these – or any other vegan recipes – please send us a picture so we can feature you on our instagram @midd_ecodorms! Happy Thanksgiving! 

Sources:

“Food: greenhouse gas emissions across the supply chain,” Our World in Data, https://ourworldindata.org/food-choice-vs-eating-local. 

Stay Away from BPA!

What is BPA?

As the “bisphenol” part of the name suggests, bisphenol A is made up of two phenol groups, which come off the center carbon of a propane, which is made up of three total carbons. BPA is a non-polar molecule, because its -OH groups “balance” each others’ charges out, giving it little net electron-pull (Salehpour et al., 2021).

Russian chemist Aleksandr P. Dianin first discovered BPA. His method, although first used in 1891, is still used today for the commercial synthesis of BPA (Yaln & Akbulut, 2014).

Following its synthesis, BPA is reacted to produce polycarbonate, a strong, clear, hard resin that has many uses, both in the past and present (Hansen et al., 2021). Uses for polycarbonates include:

  • thermal paper receipts (absorbed through skin!)
  • plastic water bottles (ingested!)
  • baby feeding bottles (ingested!)

BPA-containing epoxies are also used in the lining of metal cans for food and drink preservation. BPA kept metal cans from corroding in extreme temperatures and pressures (Yaln & Akbulut, 2014). Up until April 2019, LaCroix was still producing its cans with BPA-lined walls (Peterson, 2019).

What’s So Bad about BPA?

Estrogen is a sex hormone responsible for regulating the female reproductive system. BPA is classified as an environmental estrogen  – it is a synthetically produced chemical that can bind to and function via estrogen receptors in the body (Yaln & Akbulut, 2014). BPA will mimic estrogen. It is known as an endocrine-disrupting chemical, or EDC. EDCs like BPA can weaken the body’s immune response against pathogens and cancer cells, thus increasing the risk for cancers, especially breast cancer (Lapensee et al., 2009) (Salehpour et al., 2021).

BPA is still being produced today, and a projection from 2016 showed that BPA production will reach 10.6 million metric tons by the year 2022. That’s NEXT YEAR. The continuing production of BPA is fueled by a growing demand for these polycarbonate products from developing countries (Leung et al., 2020).

In the studies I looked at, BPA has been found in the urine of 90-95% of the general United States population. These concentrations could be extremely small, but any concentration can cause concern (Hansen et al., 2021) (Bucher, 2009).

Plastic Pollution

Humans aren’t the only ones impacted by BPA. But BPA does not occur naturally – so how does it get into the environment? One way is airborne – through epoxy resin spray, used in machine plants (Hanaoka, 2002).

BPA contamination also occurs through landfill-based pollution, with wastewater runoff playing a major role. Many landfills rest on or near waterways, and plastic is added to them every single day (Jafari et al., 2021).

Once it gets into the environment, BPA has a slow degradation – taking more than 90 years to biodegrade (and that’s not even thinking about what it degrades into!) (Jafari et al., 2021). With BPA being one of the most prevalent chemicals produced worldwide, the concentrations are bound to persist in aquatic organisms. Fish studies have suggested that aquatic animals face reproductive and developmental difficulties due to BPA (Faheem et al., 2017).

Anatomy of a Landfill | Roll Off Dumpsters & Containers

Plastic Policy

Canada prohibited the use of BPA in food packaging for infants and newborns in 2008 (“Canada Bans Bisphenol A in Baby Products”, 2008). The European Union stopped using BPA in baby bottle production in 2011, and daily limits were cut from 50 to 5 μg/kg body weight/day due to uncertainty about BPA’s toxicity (“Bisphenol A Ban”, 2010) (“Bisphenol A Limits”, 2014).

In August 2008, the Food & Drug Administration (FDA) ruled BPA safe, not altering its label to “some concern” in 2010 (“Bisphenol A”, 2010). The FDA has adapted the lowest observed effect level for BPA as 50 μg/kg body weight/day. Now, it’s banned for anything really dealing with infants or children (baby bottles, packaging for liquid formula, etc) (Leung et al., 2020) (Jafari et al., 2021).

With these regulations on BPA, something needs to replace it. However, a study looking at common replacements showed that replacements had similar impacts (Mesnage et al., 2017). So yes, BPA replacements are also bad.

BPA is a reproductive and immunity-lowering chemical used in plastics. Look for BPA-free to ensure you’re staying away from this endocrine-disrupting chemical. To really keep your body safe, stay away from any plastics, as some BPA replacements may be just as bad.

Resources

Bisphenol A. Nature. 2010. 463(7279), 274.

Bisphenol A Ban. Nature. 2010. 468(7324), 605.

Bisphenol A Limits. Nature. 2014. 505(7484), 458.

Bucher, J. R. Bisphenol A: Where to Now? Environ. Health Perspectives. 2009. 117(3), A96+.

Canada Bans Bisphenol A in Baby Products. Nature. 2008, 455(7216), 1020.

Faheem, M.; Khaliq, S.; Lone, K. P. Short Communication – Non-Monotonic Endocrine-Disrupting Effects of Bisphenol-A on Vitellogenin Expression in Juvenile Freshwater Cyprinid, Catla catla. Pakistan J. Zoology. 2017, 49(4), 1531.

Hanaoka, T.; Kawamura, N.; Hara, K.; Tsugane, S. Urinary Bisphenol A and Plasma Hormone Concentrations in Male Workers Exposed to Bisphenol A Diglycidyl Ether and Mixed Organic Solvents. Occ. and Environ. Medicine. 2002, 59(9), 625+.

Hansen, J. B.; Bilenberg, N.; Timmermann, C. A. G.; Jensen, R. C.; Frederiksen, H.; Andersson, A.-M.; Kyhl, H. B.; Jensen, T. K. Prenatal Exposure to Bisphenol A and Autistic- and ADHD-Related Symptoms in Children Aged 2 and 5 Years from the Odense Child Cohort. Environ. Health: A Global Access Science Source. 2021, 20.

Jafari, A. J.; Kalantary, R. R.; Esrafili, A.; Moslemzadeh, M. Photo-catalytic Degradation of Bisphenol-A from Aqueous Solutions using GF/Fe-TiO2-CQD Hybrid Composite. J. Environ. Health Sci. and Engineering. 2021.

Lapensee, E. W.; Tuttle, T. R.; Fox, S. R.; Ben-Jonathan, N. Environmental Health Perspect: Bisphenol A at Low Nanomolar Doses Confers Chemoresistance in Estrogen Receptor-Alpha-Positive and -Negative Breast Cancer Cells. Alternative Medicine Review. 2009, 14(2), 113.

Leung, Y.-K.; Biesiada, J.; Govindarajah, V.; Ying, J.; Kendler, A.; Medvedovic, M.; Ho, S.-M. Low-Dose Bisphenol A in a Rat Model of Endometrial Cancer: A CLARITY-BPA Study. Environ. Health Perspectives. 2020, 128(12), 127005.

Mesnage, R.; Phedonos, A.; Arno, M.; Balu, S.; Corton, J. C.; Antoniou, M. N. Editor’s Highlight: Transcriptome Profiling Reveals Bisphenol A Alternatives Activate Estrogen Receptor Alpha in Human Breast Cancer Cells. Toxicological Sciences. 2017, 158(2), 431–443.

Peterson, L. LaCroix Went BPA-free in April, but Some Stores May Still be Selling Older Cans that Contain the Chemical. Insider. 2019. [Accessed Online.] https://www.businessinsider.com/do-lacroix-cans-contain-bpa-2019-6.

Salehpour, A.; Shidfar, F.; Hedayati, M.; Farshad, A. A.; Tehrani, A. N.; Mohammadi, S. Molecular Mechanisms of Vitamin D Plus Bisphenol A Effects on Adipogenesis in Human Adipose-Derived Mesenchymal Stem Cells. Diabetology & Metabolic Syndrome. 2021, 13(1).

Yaln, N. D.; Akbulut, C. Histological Changes in Zebrafish (Danio rerio) Ovaries Following Administration of Bisphenol A. Pakistan J. Zoology. 2014, 46(4).

Composting!

Benefits of composting

In the U.S., about 30-40% of food supply is wasted every year, and it contributes to almost 20% of U.S. methane emissions that come from landfills. Some of this waste comes from early stages in the production process, but a significant amount of that waste comes from consumers themselves, so your choices can make a difference to fix this problem. One way to help is by composting! When you compost your food waste, you significantly reduce the methane emissions of that waste, and it works as an effective fertilizer. It helps soil retain more water, yield more crops, and it can even eliminate the need for chemical fertilizers altogether. 

Composting at Middlebury

Luckily, by eating at the dining halls on campus, you are already composting! Middlebury’s composting program is so effective and well-known that it is featured as a composting success story on the EPA’s website! When you put your dishes on the dining halls’ conveyor belt, you are sending your food scraps and your napkins off to be pulverized and composted, using horse manure and wood chips. The college composts using windrows, which are turned consistently to ensure they maintain a good temperature. After that, the compost is screened, and then it rests for up to a year before being used as fertilizer at the Knoll and the athletic fields. 

If you want to contribute more to Middlebury’s compost, you can put your personal food waste in the little green compost bins around your dorm. They are collected and added to the compost piles!

Sources

“America’s Food Waste Problem.” EPA, Environmental Protection Agency, 2016, https://www.epa.gov/sciencematters/americas-food-waste-problem.

“Composting: Middlebury Offices and Services.” Middlebury, Middlebury College, 4 Oct. 2021, https://www.middlebury.edu/office/facilities-services/maintenance-and-operations/composting.

“Food Waste FAQs.” USDA, U.S. Department of Agriculture, https://www.usda.gov/foodwaste/faqs.

“Open Unpaved Windrow Composting.” Compost Systems, https://www.compost-systems.com/en/solutions/open-unpaved-windrow-composting.

“Reducing the Impact of Wasted Food by Feeding the Soil and Composting.” EPA, Environmental Protection Agency, https://www.epa.gov/sustainable-management-food/reducing-impact-wasted-food-feeding-soil-and-composting.

Virtues of Veganism

These days, many people are going vegan. Veganism is a lifestyle choice in which vegans seek “to promote health and peace while reducing the suffering of both people and animals,” (Dupler, 2018) by not consuming any animal products through food, clothing, cosmetics, and virtually every other aspect of consumption.

Numbers: 

  • 8 million adults in the United States are vegetarian (as of 2016)
  • 3.4 million of these are vegans (Frey, 2019)

History:

  • Pythagoras (582-507 BCE)
    • Followers practiced the self-disciplinary lifestyle of a vegan diet and no animal bloodshed, including sacrifices to Greek gods (Frey, 2019)
  • Jain religion in India followed, and still follows, a vegan diet, where followers cannot eat the roots of plants because ingesting the roots kills the plant.
  • England – founding of the Vegan Society (1944)
    • Coincided with the end of World War II
    • Founders dreamed of a better world, one that started with a reconstruction of the food system so as to not promote the death of any living beings (Dupler, 2018)
    • They chose the term “vegan” to start with the same letters as “vegetarian” and end with the last two, because they were starting with vegetarian ideas and taking them to their logical, more impactful conclusion (Dupler, 2018)
    • Vegan is also derived from the Latin word vegetus, meaning “full of life,” which founders hoped would be true of the movement.

Benefits:

  • Environmental
    • Environmental problems caused by livestock production include “topsoil loss, water shortages and contamination, deforestation, toxic waste, and air pollution,” and methane gas is released by cows in huge amounts, contributing to global greenhouse gas emissions (Dupler, 2018).
  • Ethics
    • There are estimates that the grain which goes into livestock feed in the United States is equivalent to six and a half times that which could be consumed by the American population, which could feed 1.3 billion people (Dupler, 2018). If that grain were to go directly into pantries, there would be a positive impact on the fight against world hunger.
  • Health benefits
    • Decreases your ingestion of pesticides and synthetic chemicals. Avoiding the top of the food chain reduces bioaccumulation, or the exponential increase in toxins as they work their way up the food chain. 
    • Hugely reduces cholesterol intake, because cholesterol is only found in animal products (Dupler, 2018).
  • “Social Justice of the 21st Century”
    • Veganism fights speciesism, which “is rooted in the same ideology that perpetuates hierarchical treatment of human animals,” and cultural customs in regards to food consumption thus need to change (Leonard, 2019).

Veganism is a movement demonstrating the interconnections of living beings, aimed at demonstrating just how outdated the food system is in terms of animal welfare and environmental impact.

References

Dupler, Douglas, MA. “Veganism.” The Gale Encyclopedia of Nursing and Allied Health, edited by Jacqueline L. Longe, 4th ed., vol. 7, Gale, 2018, pp. 3686-3689. Gale Health and Wellness.

Frey, J., PhD. “Veganism.” The Gale Encyclopedia of Diets, edited by Deirdre S. Hiam, 3rd ed., vol. 2, Gale, 2019, pp. 1263-1269. Gale Health and Wellness.

Leonard, Suzy Fleming. “Here’s Why I … Am a Vegan.” Florida Today, 18 May 2019. “Key Facts.” The Vegan Society

https://www.vegansociety.com/about-us/further-information/key-facts

Online Shopping- How does it compare to Brick-and-Mortar?

Does Online Shopping = No More Shopping Trips?

The short answer: no.

Online shopping has actually been found to lead to increases in shopping trips. However, shopping trends also show that shopping trips tend to reduce online shopping (Zhou & Wang, 2014).

Essentially, ↑ online shopping leads to ↑ shopping trips

BUT ↑ shopping trips leads to ↓ online shopping

Increased online shopping often means that consumers want to go to brick-and-mortar stores to try on the products and experience the commodities. Several factors are responsible for shopping trends including socioeconomic status, internet use, location (urban/not urban), age, gender, education level, gas price, and travel time to brick-and-mortar stores (Zhou & Wang, 2014)

How Different is the CO2 Impact?

Sweet Cecily! An awesome store to spend hours browsing in!

Under most conditions, online shopping causes lower CO2 emissions than brick-and-mortar shopping. However, when travel distance is small, brick-and-mortar shopping produces less CO2 emissions than online shopping and shipping (Wiese et al., 2012, p. 2). This is especially true when travel occurs in a more sustainable way, like biking or walking!

YUM! Vermont’s Own is the perfect place to shop for little Vermont gifts!

So…Where Do I Shop in Middlebury?

Middlebury has some awesome brick-and-mortar shopping locations within walking/biking distance! Visit go/bikemap to see a Midd student’s awesome map with bikeable/walkable destinations in town! 

Plus! Shopping local supports Middlebury and Addison County while ensuring that you can know where your products come from!

One of this author’s favorite school-supplies stores!

Zhou, Y., & Wang, X. (Cara). (2014). Explore the Relationship Between Online Shopping and Shopping Trips: An Analysis with the 2009 NHTS Data. Transportation Research Part A: Policy and Practice, 70, 1–9. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.tra.2014.09.014

Wiese, A., Toporowski, W., & Zielke, S. (2012). Transport-related CO2 effects of online and brick-and-mortar shopping: A comparison and sensitivity analysis of clothing retailing. Transportation Research Part D: Transport and Environment, 17(6), 473–477. Scopus. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.trd.2012.05.007

The Carbon Footprint of Air Travel

It’s no secret that air travel leaves a negative impact on the environment, but its carbon footprint is still shocking. As of 2020, aviation was responsible for more than 900 million metric tons of carbon dioxide pollution annually. To put it into perspective, aviation accounts for 4.8% of total carbon dioxide emissions within the U.S. and over 2% of all human-induced emissions globally (Ansell & Haran, 2020). 

There have been some efforts to regulate and decrease air travel-related pollution. In 2017, The International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO) set forth standards for international airplane carbon dioxide emissions. And in 2020, the United States Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) set forth airplane standards to match those of the ICAO. However, the greenhouse gas standards for new type design and in-production airplanes will not come into effect until January of 2028. Once in effect, the new regulations will hopefully decrease 10% of U.S. transportation greenhouse gas emissions and 3% of total U.S. emissions (EPA).

The unfortunate reality of air travel is that it remains largely unavoidable, at least for many Middlebury students. Between various school breaks, many out-of-state students take around eight flights to and from Vermont annually. While there are limited opportunities to reduce carbon emissions from air travel, there are two factors to keep in mind as you book your flights. For one, non-stop flights create less pollution than flights with layovers. Also, newer airplanes generally create less pollution due to improved fuel efficiency. While these statements are not universally applicable due to variations among plane models, they remain useful characteristics to look for when traveling (Baumeister 2017). 

This post is not shared with the intention to incite frustration. I know this information initially caused frustration and guilt within myself as I faced the unavoidable reality of air travel. And while flights to and from Middlebury often feel unavoidable, there are opportunities to decrease annual flights. Instead of flying across the country during spring break, consider filling a car with your friends and driving to a regional destination. Or you can do what I did and invite yourself to a friend’s house for Thanksgiving.

Sources

Ansell, P. J., & Haran, K. S. (2020). Electrified airplanes: A path to zero-emission air travel. IEEE Electrification Magazine, 8(2), 18–26. https://doi.org/10.1109/mele.2020.2985482 

Baumeister, S. (2017). Each flight is different: Carbon emissions of selected flights in three geographical markets. Transportation Research. Part D: Transport & Environment, 57, 1-9. doi:10.1016/j.trd.2017.08.020.

Environmental Protection Agency. Control of Air Pollution from Airplanes and Airplane Engines: GHG Emission Standards and Test Procedures – Final Rulemaking. EPA. Retrieved September 27, 2021, from https://www.epa.gov/regulations-emissions-vehicles-and-engines/control-air-pollution-airplanes-and-airplane-engines-ghg. 

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

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