The Turkle Family

My family of five includes husband Charles, college-age daughters Katharine and Kirsten, and a cat. We live in a suburban neighborhood and enjoy exploring new places on foot, motorcycle, car, or plane. Katharine picked up her love of rocks (she’s a geologist) through visits to nearby national parks and rock-climbing adventures. We all listen to public radio and have fun attending theater productions; Kirsten is majoring in theater arts. When we can’t be out in the wild, you’ll often find us in the back yard, gardening and playing games or, like the cat, just watching the world go by.

Challenge #5: It’s All Fun and Games.

Charles and I have spent a lot of time camping and hiking with the girls, so this practice is well engrained in our family psyche. It takes on a new meaning, though, now that we’ve learned about carbon footprints. Can we continue to enjoy long road trips, airline flights, and epic movies, knowing how burning fossil fuels contributes to climate change? How can we have fun and still be good to the planet?
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We’ve issued challenges to our “green” families and asked them to share their experiences. Challenge #4: In the Dark? Vote online for the family that made the best effort!

You may remember from our second post (see Slow as Molasses in January) that we installed the electricity monitor, provided in our Green Families kit, the last Sunday of January. The monitor has a portable readout that shows how many kilowatts are being used at any time of the day or night. It can also display current costs and monthly estimates. We placed it in the kitchen window where we can easily keep an eye on it. The instant readout makes us very aware of what is on or off.
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Challenge #3: A Green Valentine’s Day?

This challenge went to Charles because he loves to cook. He suggested a recipe from our favorite celebrity chef, Alton Brown, called Salmon Fillet en Papillote with Julienne Vegetable. We can walk to the corner store and purchase sustainably harvested wild salmon from Alaska’s well-managed fisheries. It’s not local, but it does support people who are looking out for the health of our wildlife and oceans.
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Challenge #2: Staying Warm for Winter.

Charles jokes that I have a reptilian nature; I tend to be cold and love to sit on a warm rock. That may help explain why it took a while to get our electricity monitor installed. It sat on the dresser for a week before I finally opened the package and read the directions.
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Challenge #1: What’s your carbon footprint?

It took me awhile to get creative with an artistic rendering of our family footprint. I tend to express myself in words more than pictures. In any case, here’s the result.

Choosing answers for the carbon footprint calculator was much easier, although it took some deliberation and research. Kirsten is living on campus and not really home much, so I wasn’t sure about including her as part of the household. Of course, her existence requires a basic energy, so I ultimately counted her. In regard to driving, we left out the mileage Charles puts in for his job because it’s not something we can change. Even so, transportation via car and plane is about 90 percent of our carbon output, shown here in pink.
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