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Overview of the lifestyle project. Select two of the five areas listed on the Lifestyle Project introduction sheet (green sheet in folder or on Blackboard). The goal is for you to discover some aspects of your lifestyle which you could change to move closer to sustainability.
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Overview of the lifestyle project Select two of the five areas listed on the Lifestyle Project introduction sheet (green sheet in folder or on Blackboard). The goal is for you to discover some aspects of your lifestyle which you could change to move closer to sustainability. Select two areas for which you feel you could pay attention and make some no-cost or low-cost changes. If you don’t want to examine an area, or feel you won’t be able to do it well, or don’t want to, or can’t, change in that area– that’s a good reason for selecting another area. Example– if you are on a restricted diet for health reasons.
Electricity Identify ways in which you use electricity (e.g., lights, TV, computer, refrigerator, microwave). Think about how long each thing is used… is it plugged in or turned on constantly? Do you turn it on/off; how long is it on? Look for wattage information on the light or appliance. To find consumption by things that are “on” at different levels of use (entertainment center which draws power even when “off”) use the Kill-A-Watt meter to measure power (Watts) under different conditions, such as “On” and “Off but plugged in”. Or, you could measure kWh over a time span.
Electricity Decide which things you want to investigate and what you will record in your log. Example, a lamp: Desk lamp; three 60 Watt incandescent bulbs: Saturday = 3 hours; Sunday = 14 hours (forgot to turn off!); Monday = 5 hours ; Tuesday = 6 hours. Total for four-day baseline = 28 hours. The total energy used is 5.04 kWh. The total CO2 emitted is 7.7 lbs, which is the carbon in 31 charcoal briquettes. So, the average energy used per day is 1.26 kWh and the average emissions for the lamp is 7.74 briquettes/day, or 2829 briquettes/year.
Electricity You could do a TV or other variable-use appliance in two ways: #1: Say a TV uses 150 W when on; 20 W when off but plugged in. TV is always plugged in. TV is on: Saturday = 5 hours; Sunday = 6 hours; Monday = 2 hours ; Tuesday = 3 hours. On time for four-day baseline = 16 hours. So, TV is plugged in but off: (4 x 24) – 16 = 80 hrs. TV on TV off The total CO2 emitted is the carbon in 25 charcoal briquettes. The average emissions for the TV is 6.25 briquettes/day, or 2281 briquettes/year.
Electricity #2: Say an entertainment center (TV, DVR, game controller, etc.) is plugged into a single power strip and things are turned on & off in complicated ways. If you measure the energy used by the power strip for a longer time period, say 36 hours, and find that the energy used is 3.18 kWh: The total CO2 emitted is the carbon in 20 charcoal briquettes over 1½ days. The average emissions for the entertainment center are 13.33 briquettes/day, or 4867 briquettes/year.
Other considerations about electricity to address in your journal: • How much does electricity cost per kWh? How much money do you spend on your logged electricity use in a year? • Consider your options for reducing energy and CO2 – what do they cost? Which ones would actually save you money in the long-run? • What kinds of low-cost or no-cost lifestyle changes could you make? How difficult are they to do? Do you have to allot extra time to do things? • Does it give you a sense of satisfaction to reduce your CO2 emissions? Why or why not? • Consider the human and environmental costs of coal mining and coal combustion to make electricity (e.g., Kilowatt Ours). How do these factors contribute to your satisfaction or dissatisfaction with your reduction efforts?
Driving your car If you approximately know your car’s fuel efficiency (miles per gallon), then you need to record the distance you drive. For example, in your log you might record your fuel efficiency, 24 mpg, and distance: Saturday = 102 miles; Sunday = 110 miles; Monday = 25 miles; Tuesday = 18 miles, for a total of 255 miles. You drove 255 miles, used about 10.6 gallons of gas, and emitted about 206 lbs of CO2, equal to about 8.3 bags of charcoal briquettes. Your CO2 emissions are equal to about is 2.08 bags of briquettes/day, or about 208 briquettes since a bag of briquettes contains about 100 briquettes Your emissions are 757 bags of briquettes/year or 75,700 briquettes/year.
Driving your car A more accurate way of keeping track is to fill your gas tank, drive for a period of time, and then refill to determine how much gas you used. For example, you fill your tank and then drive 215 miles over four days. To refill your tank you have to add 8.68 gallons. You drove 215 miles with 8.68 gallons, so your fuel efficiency is 24.8 mpg. The average gasoline usage is 2.2 gallons/day, and the CO2 emitted is 42.1 lbs/day, which is the carbon in 174 charcoal briquettes. You use 803 gallons each year. Emissions are 63,510 briquettes/year. A bag of briquettes contains about 100 briquettes, so the total is 635 bags of briquettes/year.
Other considerations about driving to address in your journal: • How much does gasoline cost per gallon? How much money do you spend on your logged gas use in a year? • Consider your options for reducing energy and CO2 – what do they cost? Which ones would actually save you money in the long-run? Consider auto maintenance (tire pressure, etc.), driving habits (avoiding fast starts and high highway speeds), and reducing trips and miles by rescheduling and by substituting lower-carbon transportation such as biking or walking. • What kinds of low-cost or no-cost lifestyle changes could you make? How difficult are they to do? How much more planning or extra time is needed? • Does it give you a sense of satisfaction to reduce your CO2 emissions? Why or why not? • Consider the human and environmental costs of oil drilling and gasoline combustion (e.g., Crude Impact). How do these factors contribute to your satisfaction or dissatisfaction with your reduction efforts?
Consuming water • It is most complete and convenient to use the water calculator as a model. • (http://www.waterfootprint.org/?page=cal/waterfootprintcalculator_indv_ext). • Important point: Select “United States” from the list near the top of the page. • It is most simple to enter all applicable info for the “Food consumption” and “Indoor” categories for each day. • When needed, find weekly quantities by converting the daily quantities in your log. For example, if on a particular day you eat 0.25 pounds of meat, first multiply be 0.4535 to convert to kg (0.4535 x 0.25 = 0.113 kg/day); then multiply by 7 to find the weekly quantity (7 * 0.113 = 0.79 kg/wk). Enter 0.79 in the calculator. If you eat two eggs that day, enter 14 eggs per week. If you did one load of laundry that day, enter 7 loads per week. • If daily quantities are needed just enter them. For example, if you drank 3 cups of coffee on a particular day, enter 3 in the calculator.
Consuming water • After you submit your information the calculator will return the amount of water you use each year in the various categories in units of cubic meters. To find gallons, multiply by 264. For example, if the calculator says you use 275 cubic meters per year, that’s (264 x 275 =) 72,600 gallons/year. • Since the information you entered was for one day, divide by 365 to find a daily quantity: 199 gallons/day. • Average your daily values in each category. For example, if the water footprint of your meat consumption was: Saturday = 199 gallons; Sunday = 144 gallons; Monday = 160 gallons; Tuesday = 173 gallons, then the average water use related to meat consumption is 169 gallons/day. • To find annual values multiply by 365: For example, 365 x 169 = 61,685 gallons/year for meat.
Other considerations about water use to address in your journal: • How much does water cost per gallon? This is especially important if some of your water consumption is in bottled form. • Consider your options for reducing water use – what do they cost? Which ones would actually save you money in the long-run? • What kinds of low-cost or no-cost lifestyle changes could you make? How difficult are they to do? How much more planning or extra time is needed? • Does it give you a sense of satisfaction to reduce your water consumption? Why or why not? • Consider how the ease of using water here, and in the U.S. in general, might affect people in other places and impact sustainability (e.g., The Ecological Footprint). How do these factors contribute to your satisfaction or dissatisfaction with your reduction efforts?
Consuming food • The slide shows on “Food characteristics” and “Food-energy connections” in the Lifestyle folder on Blackboard are essential to get ideas about how to categorize your food consumption. • I suggest that for each meal or each snack you keep track of how many servings or portions are: • A whole food (eaten as purchased (e.g., apple) or cooked at home (e.g., a steak or potatoes) • Plant product (from leaves or seeds) • Meat • Animal product (e.g., milk, cheese, eggs) • Fast food (lots of processing, transportation, and added ingredients) • Processed food (can, jar, bottle or package with an ingredients list)– how many ingredients you don’t recognize; the presence of high fructose corn syrup • Organic food (look for certification) • Local food
Log your information in a table so you can see patterns and keep track of changes. Here’s a possible table: From the table you can estimate the number of items you eat in each category and assess your food choices. For example, Michael Pollan would say that the more you have in “Whole foods,” “Plants,” “Local food,” and “Organic Food,” and the fewer you have in “Meat,” “Processed food,” and “Fast food,” the better off the world is.
Other considerations about food consumption to address in your journal: • How much does food of different types cost? • Is there a difference in food quality or taste? Which foods are better for you? • Consider your options for changing food consumption patterns – what do they cost? Which ones would actually save you money in the long-run? • What kinds of low-cost or no-cost lifestyle changes could you make? How difficult are they to do? Could you eat less food? How much more planning or extra time is needed to cook? • Does it give you a sense of satisfaction to change your food consumption patterns? Why or why not? • Foods may have long energy chains (e.g., Toast)– how could your food consumption choices affect these?
Disposing of waste Log each item you dispose, whether it goes into the general waste stream (“trash” or “rubbish”) or whether it’s recycled. If recycled, note material (glass, metal can, plastic container, paper). Log items by type or use. For example, food (orange peels, half-eaten meals, moldy yogurt from the fridge) and food-related trash (containers, wrappers, boxes, napkins, cups, straws, plastic utensils, etc.) could be two types. Waste that results from packaging, say the box and foam ‘peanuts’ from a mail-order purchase or the plastic bag you get at a store, could be another type. Clothes that you want to discard could be another type. Log your information in a table so you can see patterns and keep track of changes. Here’s a possible table:
Other considerations about waste disposal to address in your journal: • How can you remember: 1) to not throw waste on the ground; and 2) to not throw trash or recyclables in the wrong container? • Which choices can you make that: 1) avoid creating waste; 2) create less waste; 3) create recyclable waste rather than trash; 4) allow for re-use when appropriate (e.g., re-using the same water bottle several times, or donating used clothes); 5) replacing throw-away items with re-usable ones. • Does it give you a sense of satisfaction to change your waste disposal patterns? Why or why not? • Waste may have long energy chains just like food. How could your waste disposal choices affect the energy you are responsible for?