Family completes Canadian Geographic challenge

A Stouffville family that competed in a Canadian Geographic challenge to drastically reduce their household carbon emissions was eager to finds ways to improve the sustainability of their typical suburban lifestyle and get closer to living net zero.

“We’ve learned that living net zero is not easy and the challenges we all face will be different depending on our circumstances,” Calvin and Janet Lai wrote on their Facebook profile.

Live Net Zero followed five households from across the country as they competed in a series of six challenges between September and December 2022. Each participating household was given $10,000 to help them reduce their carbon footprint during the bi-weekly challenges, which helped them identify their greatest sources of carbon emissions, prioritize retrofits and educate themselves on simple behavioural changes that can reduce emissions.

Canada has set an aggressive climate target, Canadian Geographic reports. With more than 25 per cent of the country’s carbon emissions coming from household energy use, achieving a national target means Canadians must start making carbon reductions at the household level. While most Canadians understand the need to reduce their household’s carbon footprint, they have a hard time knowing where to start.

Participating households documented their efforts along the way and used social media to share their journeys to inspire and teach fellow Canadians about what they can do within their own households to reduce energy consumption, shrink their carbon footprint and lower their spending on energy.

While a London family was named the first Live Net Zero Challenge winner and collected the $50,000 prize, the Lais learned valuable lessons, as shared on their Live Net Zero profile page. Because commuting contributes to heavy greenhouse gas emissions, they decided to celebrate the holidays locally at The Stouffville Holiday Market, for instance, and following an energy audit, they insulated their attic with spray foam.

“Our challengers’ hard work and passion for reducing emissions was inspiring,” says Canadian Geographic’s National Director of Environment Aran O’Carroll. “They retrofitted their homes, reimagined their commuting, changed what they bought and how they lived. As they competed against one another, each family received guidance from a team of specialists and a panel of experts measured the positive impacts made across all the challenges. Their efforts to decarbonize – from changing small habits to substantial home retrofits – serve as an important example to us all.”

Photo courtesy of the Lai family.

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