26 January 2010
Large Family - Small Footprint
Large families are much more efficient than a 4 person family and even more efficient than many of the broken family and family like structures around us. Let us look at the numbers.
Housing: Our house looks big when compared to a typical 3 bedroom house as we have 4 bedrooms plus a study and large dining room and lounge room. Attached is a 2 room "granny" flat where Lana's parents live. So our property houses 11 people (soon to be 12). We use the same rubbish bins as everyone around us with 1 or 2 people per house. The living space per person actually works out about 1/3rd of the 1 or 2 person households. Yet we feel as if we have ample space.
Power Consumption: We spend around $950 per quarter on Electricity. That is around $86 per person. The typical power bill for the 2 person families around here is around $250 to $350 a quarter. The average per person rate is $150.
Water: We are on tank water. This means all our water is derived from rainfall running off the roof into our water tanks.
Food and Groceries: Our monthly supermarket bill is around $1,300 per month. (USD $1,100) That is for 9 people, or $122 per person. This is very efficient as we don't cut back on quality, we just get better value with buying in bulk and re-using leftovers and being more efficient in meal preparation.
Fuel and Cars: We have a family van that seats 12 people. The fuel economy is about 10km per litre (around 23.5 mpg) similar to a mid range sedan. We travel as a family in one car rather than two full sedans. Typically 9 people would be from 3 to 4 families so would need 3 to 4 cars. The cost of a new car vs a new van is about 1 to 1.5 sedans = 1 van. So we save around 2 more cars on the road.
Appliances and Equipment: Once more, the one appliance (TV, DVD player, Cooking utensil) is used by 9 people, not just one or two.
Overall, our ecological footprint is lower than the same number of people in smaller families. Next time you see a large family piling out of a van in a seemingly never ending stream, think about how they are helping the planet by their efficiency. Then thank them for saving the planet - one baby at a time.