Promoting Environmentally Sustainable Behaviors in First-Year Students

Category: Uncategorized (Page 2 of 4)

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! 


“Food: greenhouse gas emissions across the supply chain,” Our World in Data, 

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.


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.]

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).


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!


“America’s Food Waste Problem.” EPA, Environmental Protection Agency, 2016,

“Composting: Middlebury Offices and Services.” Middlebury, Middlebury College, 4 Oct. 2021,

“Food Waste FAQs.” USDA, U.S. Department of Agriculture,

“Open Unpaved Windrow Composting.” Compost Systems,

“Reducing the Impact of Wasted Food by Feeding the Soil and Composting.” EPA, Environmental Protection Agency,

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.


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


  • 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.


  • 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.


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

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.


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

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 

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

Palm Oil

What is it? 

Have you heard of palm oil? Even if you haven’t, you’ve probably eaten it or used it before. It’s a vegetable oil that is so ubiquitous, it’s in 50% of all consumer products, including processed foods and cosmetic products. Here are just a few examples of products that typically contain it: 

  • Lipstick
  • Instant ramen
  • Pizza dough
  • Ice cream
  • Shampoo 
  • Chocolate 
  • Cookies 
  • laundry detergent
  • Soap 
  • Packaged bread 
  • Pet food 

Why should I care?

Palm oil is everywhere because it’s a highly profitable and productive plant. So much so that the palm oil industry is worth $40 billion, so it can be difficult to avoid. This wouldn’t be a problem, except that the industry is also notoriously unethical. Most palm oil is produced in Malaysia and Indonesia, and over the years those countries have become systematically deforested to make way for palm oil. Through deforestation, the palm oil industry has displaced thousands of indigenous people and endangered many species, including the orangutan. To make matters worse, the industry produces greenhouse gases at an alarming rate because clearing land for palm plantations requires burning rainforest. On peatland, the burning process releases 100 times more greenhouse gases than typical forest fires. 

What can I do? 

It can be difficult to cut palm oil out of your diet or self-care routine altogether—it’s everywhere! Even worse, other vegetable oils are not always better for the environment (palm oil uses less land and requires less fertilizer). 

An easy step is to become more aware of the problem, so start noticing and checking for it in ingredients lists. You can also look for the RSPO (Roundtable on Sustainable Palm Oil) seal of approval on your favorite products or try out new products that they approve. 

It’s also important to realize that the palm oil industry is unsustainable, but it doesn’t have to be. It’s bad for the environment because of its ruthless deforestation, but if we shift planting to already cleared land and make sure the farming is sustainable so we can continue to use that land, the environmental concerns could significantly decrease. So, advocating for sustainable palm oil production could go a long way. Alternatively, you can donate to organizations that protect rainforests and the species that live within them. 


Giving Up Palm Oil Might Actually Be Bad for the Environment | Science | Smithsonian Magazine. (n.d.). Retrieved September 22, 2021, from

How do we go palm oil free? – BBC Future. (n.d.). Retrieved September 22, 2021, from

The environmental impacts of palm oil in context—CIFOR Knowledge. (n.d.). Retrieved September 22, 2021, from

Which Everyday Products Contain Palm Oil? | Pages | WWF. (n.d.). World Wildlife Fund. Retrieved September 22, 2021, from

Water-Conscious Laundry

Top-Loading Machines vs. Front-Loading Machines

  • Front loading machines, like the ones here at Middlebury, use less energy and water.
  • About 85% of the energy consumed by a washing machine goes to heating the water, so switching to cold water saves more energy!
  • Wash agitators in top-loading machines require more energy and induce more wear and tear on clothing, while also providing less room for larger items like rugs and comforters.


  • Emissions from washers and dryers include components have been shown to classify as hazardous air pollutants and known/probably carcinogens.
    • In a 2011 study, investigators identified 29 volatile organic compounds (VOCs) in the dryer-vent emissions.
    • The US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) classifies seven of the VOCs found in dryer-vent emissions–acetaldehyde, benzene, ethylbenzene, methanol, m/p-xylene, o-xylene, and toluene–as hazardous air pollutants.
  • One laundry detergent brands’ acetaldehyde annual emissions is 1,660lb. Automobile emissions of the same chemical are approximately 56,000lb/year. Looking at the top 5 laundry detergents, emissions of acetaldehyde represent 6% of automobile emissions.
  • Mice exposed to emissions from fabric-softener products experienced trouble breathing and other irritation.

What You Can Do

  • Do fewer laundry loads!
    • This will use less water and less energy.
  • Switch to cold water (save energy!).
  • Continue using front-loading washers.
  • Stop using fabric softeners, or switch to more environmentally-conscious brands.
  • Stay away from laundry products packaged in plastic.

Boronow, K.E., Brody, J.G., Schaider, L.A. et al. Serum concentrations of PFASs and exposure-related behaviors in African American and non-Hispanic white women. J Expo Sci Environ Epidemiol 29, 206–217 (2019).

Kessler, Rebecca. “Dryer vents: an overlooked source of pollution?” Environmental Health Perspectives, vol. 119, no. 11, 2011, p. A 474+. Gale OneFile: Environmental Studies and Policy, Accessed 19 July 2021.

Lamarre, Leslie. “The new line on laundry.” EPRI Journal, vol. 22, no. 6, 1997, p. 14+. Gale OneFile: Environmental Studies and Policy, Accessed 19 July 2021.

Steinemann, A.C., Gallagher, L.G., Davis, A.L. et al. Chemical emissions from residential dryer vents during use of fragranced laundry products. Air Qual Atmos Health 6, 151–156 (2013). 

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).

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