7400.362 - Family Life Management
School of Family and Consumer Sciences
Instructor: David D. Witt, Ph.D.
Topic 12 - Managing Environmental Resources

This chapter reviews the current state of our natural environment with emphasis, as is the expressed goal of Family and Consumer Sciences,  on the near physical environment - home and community. We are all a little more sensitive to environmental issues as a result of some issues becoming part of our political dialog.  The challenge for the future is have products that make people’s life healthier and more convenience, while also contributing to the environmental cause of cleaner earth, sky, water and so on.

Substainable Development is the slogan that means a form of growth wherein societal needs, present and future, are met”. This requires the input and cooperation of all segments of society, particularly producers and consumers.

Your text offers the advice of including environmental concerns in our daily lives by studying the 3-Rs solution: reducing, reusing and recycling

It is increasingly being accepted worldwide as means of combating negative effects on the environment. Study life cycle of household product, which includes their manufacturing, distribution, disposal, energy use and human resources. Environmental problems are intertwined with trends, practices, preferences, and variations in human behavior. Theme of the chapter is to think about others and the future of this planet. Building on the chapter on resources and managing human resources, time stress and fatigue, this chapter gives practical examples about to manage the environment and global well-being.· Stewardship: the responsibility to preserve what we have inherited.


The Systems approach emphasis the interconnectedness and interaction between different systems. Systems are composed of living and nonliving things.

  • Living Systems  (e.g., plants, animals, societies) are open systems that react to the feedback and are prone to stress in which the living cannot survive.
  • Family ecosystem is the subsystem of human’s ecology that emphasizes the interaction between families and environment.
  • Ecology is the study of how living things relate to their natural environment
  • Ecosystem is the subsystem of human ecology that emphasizes the relationship between organism and their environment.
  • Habitat is the place where an organism lives and the external condition that surrounds and influences the life of an organism, an individual, a family, or a population constitutes its environment.
Environmentalism is the concern for the environment.  Using environment friendly products is one of the ways of showing the concern. Major aim of environmentalism is to retain existing environmental resources.

Resources can be divided into two types

1. Social Environmental Resources - includes an array of societies, economic and political groups and community organization.
In each of these, people are united in common cause, such as saving the manatees, or in more general concern, such as reducing global warming.

2. Physical Environmental Resources - includes natural tangible (e.g., trees, soil, and ocean) and less tangible) e.g., air, sound, and light) surroundings.

Ecoconsciousness refers to the thoughts and actions given to protecting and sustaining the environment.
Conservation is the act or process of preserving and protecting natural environments from loss or depletion.
The degree of ecoconsciousness varies, as shown below in the figure. Each person and each family fall somewhere on the continuum.

< -------------------------------------|-------------------------------------------->
Anti-environmentalist                       Passive                               Pro-environmentalist

Problem Recognition: Seeing the need for personal/lifestyle changes that improve the environment occurs when an individual or a family perceives significant differences between their lifestyle and some desired or ideal lifestyles. The discrepancy must be large enough to push the individual to action  Such a problem can arise in one of the two ways

1. Need Recognition: Here, the person realizes how much he or she needs a certain product, service, or condition. For example, suppose the price of gasoline soared to over $ 10 a gallon. Now everybody needs gasoline but then who can really afford it?

2. Opportunity Recognition: Here, the individual realizes that she or he may have limited or no access to a product, service, or condition. For example,  this shortage forces gasoline stations to close for few days. Now the situation arises where if the drivers need gasoline they cannot purchases it.

Many environmental problem involve both need and opportunity recognition. Communication plays a large part in environmental problem recognition. The Federal government communicates environmental information through news releases, press conferences, warnings and legislations. Other sources of environmental communication are Television, Magazine, newspapers, radio and families, which communicates news about the environmental condition and behavior. Parent model littering and recycling behaviors for their children. Once the environmental problem has been recognized, the individual involved engages in an information search in order to resolve it.

Saving Species.
Each day 50-100 animal and plant species are being extinguished somewhere in the world. One of the chief causes of species extinction is the loss of habitat that is primarily caused by human encroachment.  As humans use more resources (fuel, land, water, etc.), fewer resources are available for the other life forms.  Environmental ethics helps us to decide which species will be saved and which will be not. Ethics are system of morals, principles, values, - but not always good conduct or behavior.

Individual And Family Decision Making and the Environment
Individuals and families are taking on grater share of responsibility of their environment and are relying less on larger institution.
Environmental problems are too widespread to be remedied buy one group. Boundaries of the problems are often difficult and blurred to discern. For e.g., consumption and disposal practices of individuals and families, as well as those of businesses and industry, contribute to waste stream (all garbage produced).

A difficult aspect of environmentalism is to determine what is a real, acute problem or shortage and what is not.
Critical thinking skills and cross- checking the information at several different reliable sources is required before arriving at the truth of a situation. Environmental decisions made by an individual or the family members are complicated enough considering the range of values, resources, goals, and decision-making steps involved.

Within the same family there may be vast differences in types, styles and levels of environmental awareness. Differences are even more evident between families and between communities. For example, some communities have an active recycling programs that makes it easier for people to recycle, and ease is significant factor in the success of conservation programs.


Is a general term referring to undesirable changes in physical, chemical, pr biological characteristics of air, land, or water that can harm the health, activities, or survival of living organisms. Common to all environmental problems is the widespread growth of pollution

 The two main problems associated with water are a. Shortage and Water Pollution
Since 1900 there has been a six-fold increase in worldwide water use. According to the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), approximately 50.000 water contaminants have been identified, and more than 100 of these are regulated in U.S.
The five main types of contaminants in the U.S. water supply are:
    a. Chlorinated solvents
    b. Trialomethanes
    c. Lead
    d. PCBs (or polychlorinated biphenyles
    e. Pathogenic bacteria and viruses.

Each year, U.S. residents spend over a billion dollars on home purifying equipment and water filtration. Before investing in any equipment or services, consumers should first have their water checked by legitimate testing services that are not selling a product. Contamination of drinking water is not the only water-related issues.

There are many others, including the following:

  • Drinking water: supply and conservation, treatment, and health consideration.
  • Groundwater: Availability and depletion, quality and contamination, consequences to public health, detection, and monitoring
  • Seawater: Quality and quantity; preservation of sea life
  • Water for agricultural use: Conversation and supply
  • Water for industrial use: Supply and pollutants
  • Water for household use: Supply and quality, conservation and water efficient products
Water Consumption and Shortage
Estimated per capita in-house water use range from 20 to 100 gallons per day and staticstic illustrate, the greatest water use is in the bathroom. Water used to be cheap, clean, and abundant, but in many metropolitan areas in the dry Southwest and southern California, water has now become a limited resource. Many areas are regulating water use through rules and legislation. The amount of water available varies by Region, Season of the year, and Climate.

As the population grows, the need for water increases, and the present system of dams and adequate will have difficulty meeting the demands. At some point, all individuals and families will have to adjust their lifestyles to effectively mange the supply that is available to them.

Practical Ways to Reduce Household Water Use.
Following are the low-cost or free ways to save water:

  • Do not leave the water running while doing dishes, brushing teeth, or shaving
  • Run full loads in the washing machine and dishwasher. New front loading washer use 30- 40 % less than top-loaders
  • Install water-saving shower heads or take showers instead of baths
  • Fix leaky faucets and toilets
  • Landscape with native plants that do not require additional watering.
  • Use only the water necessary for cooking and rinsing water food.
  • Water the lawns and garden early in the morning to avoid loosing too much water to evaporation in the heat of the day. Cover soil with compost or mulch to reduce evaporation
  • Use buckets of water to wash car rather than running water continuously from the hose.
Energy & Fuels
The main problems with energy are Energy production, Energy wastage, Pollution from the use of dirty fuels.

Fossil Fuels, the naturally altered remains of dead animal and plant life results in fuels such as coal, oil, and natural gas, whch are burned to release energy.  When burned, unconsumed materials are released into the atmosphere by the ton. For example, the unburned components of gasoline that are causing much of the trouble in the air and water are:

  • Carbon monoxide, a poisonous gas - 5 pounds for every gallon of gasoline burned- a greenhouse gas that is contributing to the "warming" of the earth - leading to shrinkage of  ice and glaciers, more water in the environment, flooding, and weather pattern changes (for the worse).
  • Nitrogen oxides, the main source of urban smog - causes respiratory ailments and infections and, when coupled with high temperatures and humidity, is particularly hard on young children and the elderly.

  • Unburned hydrocarbons, the main source of urban ozone - Stratospheric ozone has been called "good" ozone because it protects the Earth's surface from dangerous ultraviolet light. Tropospheric ozone (often termed "bad" ozone) is man-made, a result of air pollution from internal combustion engines and power plants and produces nitrogen oxide gases and volatile organic compounds.
Another problem with overdependence on fossil fuels is the conflicts that result from the geopolitical elements that profit from crude oil production.

Electricity is the main form of energy used in today’s homes. In and of itself, electricity is a clean form of energy. The problem with electricity use has to do with the way it is produced - burning coal generates most of the electricity, followed by generation from nuclear reactors. Electricity is also produced by generators driven by steam, from other fossil fuels such as oil and natural gas.  Hydroelectric power, which comes from generators turned by falling water, is another current source of energy.
Other alternative sources are solar batteries, geothermal power stations.

Obviously, the cleaner the source of energy that produces electricy, the healthier we all will be.

Energy Consumption and Home Energy Audits
The United States uses more energy per capita than all other countries - about 20% of the worlds population, the U.S. consumes about 50% of the enery produced worldwide.  An average-sized, conventional house uses 20,000 to 30, 000 kWH (kilowatt hours) of energy each year.  Depending on the climate and the home’s insulation, about
    · 60 % of energy to space heating and cooling
    · 20% to hot water
    · 20% to cooking/refrigerating
    · 10% to lighting and appliances
    · Remaining to standing charges and maintenance

Quick Ways of saving the energy
    · Improving insulation
    · Weatherstripping
    · Making a few alteration in a home (e.g., adding storm windows, adding overhangs, shutting drapes and doors)
    · Mend cracks in wall, windows, and doors

Practical Ways to Reduce Household energy Use

Improved Insulation reduces energy loss.
There are several forms of insulation. Higher R value (R stands for resistance) means less energy loss.
    Sources of Insulation:

  • Rigid panels or sheets of insulation
  • Batts (fluffy fiberglass rolls of insulation)
  • Blown Insulation (mainly chopped fiberglass with air
  • A vapor-proof barrier of strong plastic
  • Double – or triple glazed windows to reduce heat loss or heat gain.
  • Weather-stripping around windows and doors will seal leaks
  • Window awnings reduces heat in summer
  • Drawn insulated drapes will reduce heat loss in winters.
  • Warmth and shelter can be enhanced if hills, trees, winds, water and the sun are considered.
The climate will influence the best site (the location or situation of a house) and orientation (the location or situation of the house relative to points on a compass). Homeowners and builders should take care of the natural environment into account. For e.g., in states with hot climates,  most houses should have few windows on the west side to avoid the afternoon sun. States with cold climate, houses should have few windows on the north side to reduce the cold drafts.

Landscaping can also affect heat loss and gain. Deciduous trees, such as oaks and maples lose their leaves in winters. The leaves will shield the house in the summer, but let sunshine through in the winters.

Other energy saving steps:

  • Install a computerized thermostat
  • Turn the thermostat down on water heater. Each 10 – degree reduction cuts water heating energy bills by 3-5 %.
  • Keep the temperature setting in the refrigerator between 38 and 42-degree Fahrenheit and the freezer between 0- 5 degree Fahrenheit. Clean refrigerator coils at least once a year. A filled refrigerator and freezer is more energy efficient than an empty or partially filled one.
  • Use small appliance, as they require less energy than large ones. A microwave, ovens and toaster ovens uses less energy than conventional ovens.
  • Replace old, inefficient appliances with new ones.

To help consumers select low energy appliances, The Appliances Labeling program administered by the Federal Trade Commission requires major household appliances- those using the most energy-to have an Energy- Guide label. Even small savings helps and consumer can reduce home energy consumption by:

  • Installing dimmer switches
  • Lighting areas for specific needs
  • Installing fluorescent lights, which uses 80% less energy than candescent lights
  • Using light color on ceilings, wall, floors and furniture as they reflect, more light and brighten a room
  • Replace old lamps with new, more efficient ones
  • Turning off lights when not in use
  • Checking Energy- Guide or Energy Star labels before Buying
  • Efficient appliances and lighting and the management of human behavior (e.g., shutting windows when the air conditioning is on) can substantially affect the energy use in the home.
Noise Pollution
Noise is measured in decibels (dB) - The intensity, or loudness, of sound is the amount of acoustic energy transmitted through the air. The lowest sound humans can hear is 1dB. Homes, offices, and other environment should strive to offer a comfortable amount of noise. Too little sound makes a person feel uncomfortable or lonely. Too much nose is more common problem too little. Often the noise itself is not irritating, but the continuous nature of noise or the combination of noise (e.g., the noise of the vacuum cleaner, the blender, the television, and children slamming doors occurring at the same time) Poorly constructed buildings add to the noise level.

Practical Ways to Reduce Noise

  • Find housing away from noisy traffic, airports, schools, and factories
  • Plant barrier trees and hedges to reduce noise. High walls and earth mounds also cut noises
  • Place bedrooms in quieter parts of the house. Put the garage on the noisy side of the site
  • Buy “quiet” appliances – these have more insulation
  • Keep the volume on radios and television low.
  • Draw heavy drapes and close blinds to shut out neighborhood noise
  • Weather-strip windows and doors to prevent outside noise from entering. Inside solid-core doors will reduce noise between rooms. On busy street, use double- or triple-pane windows.
  • On common walls between apartment, bricks, earth and concrete reduce noise better than wood or aluminum sidings
  • Use soft, porous surfaces that absorbs sound rather than hard, smooth surfaces that reflects sounds.
Waste and Recycling - A typical American creates 4.4 pounds of garbage a day. United States is running out of ways to dispose of garbage. Historically landfills were cheap and readily available, but vacant land is no longer cheap and is becoming increasingly scarce around cities Recently a new method of waste disposal has come up which is known as integrated waste management. In this system:
  • Waste product are sorted
  • Recyclable items are reused
  • Rest is burned cleanly in a furnace that also produces steam to generate electricity
  • Remaining ashes goes to landfills
According to Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), the break down of U.S. garbage is as follows:
  • Paper and paperboard   38.6%
  • Yard waste   12.8%
  • Food waste 10.1%
  • Plastic  9.9%
  • Metals  7.7%
  • Glass  5.5%
  • Wood   5.3%
  • Other (rubber, leather, textile, etc.)10.0%
In recent years, recycling has become popular. Some examples:Plastic (Used for fiberfill for pillows, flowerpots, paintbrush, bristles, fence posts, insulation and docks), Paper (used for game boards, puzzles, stationary, newspaper, toilets paper, paper towel, egg carton, boxes, books and tickets), Glass (Used for bottles, street paving, tiles, and bricks), and Aluminum (Used for cans, lawns furniture, windows frames, and car parts).

Practical Ways to Reduce Waste
Children can be taught the value of waste reduction in their families, schools, or in organization such as Boy Scouts and Girls Scouts. Households can adopt the 3-Rs solution to the waste problems These methods all involve management. Each requires time, energy, and commitment; decision plan must be carries out.

1) Reducing:

  • · Avoid buying products with excessive packaging
  • · Use coffee mugs at work (avoid using Styrofoam cups)
  • · Buy in bulk (fewer packages)
  • · Use lunch boxes instead of paper or plastic bags
  • · Buy recycled paper and products
2) Reusing
  • · Use both side of sheets of paper
  • · Reuse old envelops for message and list
  • · Reuse wrapping paper and ribbons
  • · Reuse cardboard boxes and glass jars
3) Recycling
  • · Take recycling material to recycling centers
  • · Hand downs clothes from child to child
  • · Alter and reuse existing clothes
  • · Donate clothing to charities or Goodwill Industries
  • · Refinish, sell, or donate old furniture.
 Air Quality
Clean air has to be given high priority in list of environmental concerns as humans can only survive few minutes without air.
Air quality is threatened by too much Ozone, Airborne particles, Sulfur dioxide, Lead, Nitrogen oxides, Carbon monoxides

Sources of air pollution
· More than half of nations air pollution comes from mobile sources such as cars, trucks, motorcycles, airplanes, trains, buses, and boats - other culprits are Factories, Drycleaners, Homes, Oil refineries.

Air pollution contributes to health problems and ecological problems such as decreased quality of aquatic life and vegetation damage. More than 90% of air pollution deaths occur in developing countries and 80%of these deaths are caused by indoor air pollution Pollution indoors is sometimes worse than outdoors. Sick building syndrome is caused by the presence of pollutants in the air compounded by inadequate ventilation system. harmful indoor pollutants comes from Building materials, Furnishings,  Space heaters, Gas ranges, Wood preservatives, Aerosols, Cleaning agents.

According to American Lung Association the top 10 indoor pollutant in United States are as following

  • 1) Second-hand smoke.
  • 2) Biological contaminants (bacteria, viruses, animal dander, pollen, dust molds, fungi etc) these attach themselves to dust that is then inhaled.
  • 3) Particulates (solid particles and liquid droplets such as dirt, dust and smoke)
  • 4) Household products (cleansers, personal care products, and paints)
  • 5) Carbon monoxide (odorless and colorless gas, a product of combustion of fossil fuels and burning woods)
  • 6) Radons a naturally occurring gaseous by-product of the uranium in the earth- can enter the house through holes and cracks in the foundation. The Environmental Protection Agency estimates that between 10,000 and 40,000 lung cancer deaths years in U.S. are caused by radon. A radon level of 4 picocuries per liter or more is considered dangerous.
  • 7) Volatile organic compounds (VOCs)- the “new smell” from carpets, wood cabinets, plastic, etc
  • 8) Pesticide
  • 9) Lead (paints and lead pipes)
  • 10) Asbestos (microscopic mineral fiber that are flexible, durable, and do not burn.
Practical Ways to Reduce Air Pollution

The air quality index ranges from a low of 0 to a high of 500
1) Use roll-on or solid deodorants
2) Keep the car engine tuned. Use public transportation and bicycles when possible
3) Don’t smoke
4) Air out house and workplaces. Open windows at least once a week
5) Clean heaters and air conditioners filters regularly. Use air conditioner or dehumidifier to maintain an indoor relative humidity below 65%
6) When building or remodeling a house, use safe building materials and installation methods.
7) Put green plants in home and workplaces. Certain kinds of green plants are particularly effective in filtering out indoor air pollution.

Positive Ecology

 People who incorporate several suggestions to conserve limited resources into their daily life management are practicing positive ecology. Some of the ways of practicing positive ecology are as following

Electronic Resources