Sustainibility and Stewardship

Science Project by Sonia Persaud P7B

My Sustainability and Stewardship Science Project

This is my Sustainability and Stewardship Science Project and it is broken down into 4 sections: My Family Profile, My Ecological Footprint, Exploring Green Alternatives a, b, and c, and the End Reflection.

My Family Profile

Sonia Persaud

This is me. I am 12, but almost 13, years old. Each weekday I drive about 1 kilometre to school and spend most of my time there. Every afternoon one of my parents, usually my mother, picks me up and I go home, do my homework, and spend my free time reading or drawing. On weekends, I do my homework and play sports such as volleyball, softball, and hockey. Like the rest of my family, in my diet I do not eat beef or pork, and personally I eat a lot of fruit and grains. I spend a lot of time on the iPad for school purposes, use the lights and heat, and drive to school in a car, so even though I try to take short showers and turn off the lights when I can, I do think that I do use a lot of energy. I think I have a pretty big ecological footprint, but in about the middle of my family's footprints.

Jay Persaud

This is my little brother. He is 11 years old and is in Grade 5. He has a similar routine to me, as in he drives about 1 kilometre each way to school and spends most of time there on weekdays. After school, he, like me, spends time doing his homework, but afterwards spends time usually outside playing sports such as hockey, soccer, basketball, and softball, or watching these same sports on TV. On weekends he plays the same sports, as well as plays computer games or video games on our PlayStation. He also reads many graphic novels. His diet is also limited by "no beef, no pork" and as well he eats a lot of grains and fruit. As for the size of his ecological footprint, it should be about the same as mine. He spends less schoolwork time on the computer then me, although next year in the Prep School he will, but he plays many video games. His showers are very short, usually a little under a minute, although he sometimes wastes a little bit of food, and occasionally neglects to turn off the lights.

Mira Persaud

This is my mother. She is the Director of Human Resources at Wynford, an event management and communications agency. She usually drives about 1.5 kilometres each way to her office and works there usually for about 50 hours a week. Sometimes she walks to work because it is relatively close to our home. At home, she cooks (and enjoys cooking) the majority of our family's meals and definitely does her share of the housework. She also picks us up from school on most days. She goes for walks with my father, with her friends, or by herself for exercise at least once or twice a week. She likes to read, go hiking, bike, listening to music, and doing photography in her spare time. Like the rest of my family members, she does not eat beef or pork, and she eats mainly fruit and vegetables, yogurt, eggs, salad greens, and occasionally pasta. Her ecological footprint could be possibly the smallest in my family, because of her short commute, relatively short showers, the very few grains and meat in her diet, and her resolve to never fail at remembering to turn off the lights and other electrical appliances. However, she spends at least an hour and a half a day on the computer.

Amar Persaud

This is my father. He is the CFO of GE Energy in Markham. We live about half an hour away from his workplace and so his commute to his workplace is the longest in our family by far. He works, like my mother, for 50 hours a week. In the morning he drops us off to school and he helps with the housework by taking out the garbage, compost, and recycling, cleaning the yard, and cleaning up the house. In his spare time, he reads, goes to the gym, and plays sports. His diet is mainly chicken, salads, eggs, and sandwiches, and like the rest of my family, there is no beef or pork in his diet. His ecological footprint is probably the largest because he has the longest commute and spends a lot of time on the computer for work. He is, however, conscientious about electricity usage, takes short showers, and tries not to buy things very often.

My Ecological Footprint

My family's ecological footprints

My ecological footprint: 19.72 hectares

My brother's ecological footprint: 20.92 hectares

My mother's ecological footprint: 19.82 hectares

My father's ecological footprint: 20.42 hectares

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Ecological Footprint Analysis

i. An ecological footprint is an indication of how many hectares of the Earth it takes to support your current lifestyle. It compares the resources you consume with the amount of earth it takes to replace it. A carbon footprint is similar, but focuses on the greenhouse gases released from fossil fuels. It measures the amount of greenhouse gases released.

ii. Your EFC is related to the environment because it measures the amount of the environment needed to sustain your lifestyle, and part of it measures things that affect the environment, like "do you buy alternative fibre clothing?". The usage of different fibres helps prevent extinction of specific tree species, and if one of them becomes extinct it could affect many different other species in the environment, or sections on energy usage, which is usually harmful to the environment.

iii. I learned that my family's EFC is quite high, and much more than our allotted 1.7 hectares each. I also saw many ways, in the ecological footprint calculator, for us to reduce the things we are doing, some simple things that would help reduce our EFC tremendously.

iv. I do agree with my EFC results. I think that the results I got were a fair, although disappointing, reflection of how much of the environment it actually takes to sustain my lifestyle. I felt that the transportation section was especially accurate because private vehicles do contribute to a lot of our Earth's pollution. The food section I felt was fair because they allotted what I felt to be a fair number of points to each section. The rest of the sections I felt similarly about and I think this was a good calculator, and I felt I fit the results the test showed.

v. The national Canadian ecological footprint average is 7.25 hectares, a fact I was surprised, and disappointed, to discover. My footprint is 19.72 hectares, about 8.5 hectares higher.

vi. Yes, I think Canada has a large ecological footprint. Most countries of the world do use more than 1.7 hectares per person and even amongst them, Canada's average is particularly high, number 8 out of all the world's countries.

vii. Compared to the U.S., number 5 out of the world's countries in ecological footprints, Canada, number 8, is close, but not doing too badly. 9.7 is the average American ecological footprint which is over 2 hectares more than the average Canadian footprint. Compared to the Democratic Republic of the Congo, whose average footprint is only about 1 hectare per person, Canada's footprint is huge! Congo is considered to be a third world, or developing, country with low income and many poor families, as well as a history of violence.

Exploring Green Alternatives

Car Comparison

Sections A, B, and C part i.

My family's current car is a 2009 Acura RDX. The alternative fuel car I am comparing it to is the 2014 Tesla Model S.

Firstly, I will compare the powering mechanisms. My family's Acura

RDX is powered by an internal-combustion engine, the same as most cars today. The engine is 2.5 litres, and 200 horsepower. The Model S I am comparing it to is powered by a rechargeable battery. The battery is much safer than the internal combustion engine of the RDX, which basically is powered by miniature explosions. In the Model S, there is no engine, and therefore, no engine noise while driving.

Next, the fuel used will be compared. The RDX is powered by gasoline, and the Model S is powered by electricity, hence the name, electric car. It may appear that the Model S is the obvious choice for protecting the environment, however, this is not exactly correct. It is electricity, but what if that electricity was from a fossil fuel? Then it would be exactly the same as the gasoline for the RDX, except for the fuel for a car, boat, or truck transporting the fuel to the gas station for refuelling. If you are powering the Model S with electricity from renewable sources, then it is much cleaner, and already the option of doing so makes the Model S a good choice.

Thirdly, the usage of the car. The RDX and Model S both would be used about the same amount. They would spend about 15 kilometres a day on the road, the average length of a trip would be 15 minutes, and normally 3 people are in the car, although sometimes it would be 4. On road trips, we use the RDX, but if we had a Model S, we would have trouble because the battery of the car can last about 435 kilometres, so if we did not refuel during long trips we would run out of charge in the vehicle. The Tesla Supercharger Stations, placed around various cities, are designed for charging while traveling. They are in cities such as Barrie, Toronto, Kingston, and Montreal.

The performances of the car can also be compared. The RDX's performance is 12.5 litres per 100 kilometres. The Tesla Model S' performance is about 56.315 kilowatt hours (kWh) per 100 kilometres.

It takes about 0.6 kWh to power a 60-watt lightbulb for one hour. So the Model S, in one kilometre, takes about 0.56315 kWh to power, which is about 0.4 kWh less than the 60-watt lightbulb in one hour.

The cost of fuel in the Model S is substantially cheaper. The RDX's fuel is about $30 a week, whereas the fuel for the Model S in the same amount of time is only about $13.50. This is, however, offset slightly by the fact that the Model S itself is more expensive. As well, if you are using solar cells or a wind turbine to power your car, as a way to be eco-friendly, the cost of those may also contribute to the total cost.

It is much easier to refuel a Model S. Each owner has a charger at your house, and you can just plug it in after a day of driving. This is good, but my family's current conditions are not bad, with a gas station only about 1 kilometre or so away from the house. On long drives I would prefer the RDX, because of its access to the many gas stations that you can find at least one of in every small town. This is better compared to the Tesla Supercharger Stations, with only a handful spread out in Canada.

Finally, the by-products or emissions from the cars. The Acura RDX emits what is currently typical for a car, carbon dioxide or monoxide. The Model S has no emissions because it is powered by a battery, and is therefore in this category much better. The greenhouse gas carbon dioxide is a big contributor to global warming, and therefore the zero emissions from the Model S help slow global warming. Carbon monoxide is also deadly - it can kill you. Again, no emissions from the Model S also save lives, although there have been many other safety measures put in place to help prevent carbon monoxide poisoning in standard cars like the RDX.

These criteria all show the many differences between the 2014 Model S from Tesla Motors, and the 2009 Acura RDX.

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Car Analysis

Part C ii, iii, iv, v, and vi.

iii. I think my family should definitely consider switching to this future car. Excluding the price of the car and the disadvantage of running out of charge faster on long trips, I think the Model S is a much better option for my family because we do not drive very far each day, want to help protect the environment, and would prefer the safety of the Model S. If one day the prices became cheaper and the battery lasted longer, then it would be a great choice, especially if we helped protect the environment by using electricity from a green source like solar power.

iv. There would be a few social changes needed to be made for this car to be successful. One change is that gas stations, which are present in all communities, should include a few electrical chargers, which could power the electric cars, and as they grew more popular, phase out the older gas and diesel chargers to make way for more electric ones. Also, people could become more self-sufficient because they have the option of getting fuel however they want for their car, like solar or wind power.

v. There are benefits from using this car. There may be some or no financial benefits. This is because the total cost of a car includes maintenance, fuel, and the actual vehicle. The vehicle itself is much more expensive than the Acura, but the fuel is cheaper. The fuel for the Model S costs about $700 a year, and Acura's fuel is actually about $1,820 a year. If the car is used for long enough, the money saved on fuel combined with the money saved on maintenance costs - which are usually about 2/3 lower, price-wise, than gasoline-powered vehicles' service costs - could actually make the total cost less expensive. However, if you are using a personal green energy source, like solar, the cost of the panels might contribute a lot to the cost, too. The environmental benefits are amazing. Even if you are using fossil fuels for the electricity to power your car, the environmental cost of transporting the gasoline is gone. If you are using a green, environmentally-friendly source, than it is even better, and even if you do not do this right away, the option of doing this instead of only using gasoline, may lead you to do this in the future.

vi. Talking with my classmates, most of them agreed that electric cars would be the most successful in the future, because of the zero emissions coming from them. Another reason why was that they are popular and well-known, so they would eventually become more affordable. An interesting reason I discovered was that some thought electric cars would be the most popular because they are very safe, with just a battery inside them. Another type of alternative-fuel car was hydrogen powered cars because hydrogen is easily available and creates no by-products except for clean drinking water.

End Reflection

4.a) - My whole family could take shorter showers and use colder water while taking them.

- My brother, mother, and I could walk or bike to work and school because we live only a 20 or 25 minute's walk from the school and her workplace.

- We could donate or used clothes to charity so they can be reused and not wasted.

- We can buy alternative-fibre clothing so no species go extinct.

- We could use more local food sources so food does not have to be transported as far, saving gas in cars and trucks. Good things grow in Ontario!

4.b) - The cafeteria's initiatives to remind us to not waste food are already in place with their posters and reminders to us at the beginning of the year.

- Already in our washrooms, there are taps that turn off automatically so we do not waste that much water.

- We could turn off the lights during classes on sunny days so we do not use as much electricity.

4.c) - Canada can work to create more public transit systems so people use private vehicles less.

- Canada can help promote organic, natural, and locally-grown foods so pesticides won't damage the environment and food won't travel as far.

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