A Windsor family is trying to lose the most amount of carbon emissions from their daily lives in order to win a $50,000 competition.
They’re one of eight families across the country entered in “Live Net Zero”, a competition sponsored by Canadian Geographic, which is designed to encourage Canadians to reduce their household emissions as they compete in six themed challenges.
“We have two young children and we really want them to be inspired, ” said Crystal Waddell. “We are always trying to install those practices with them and we want them to grow up and learn these things as well.”
One of the biggest challenges will be making their home more efficient in the really cold and really warm months.
Their house in south Walkerville was built in 1945, as a result of poor insulation and aging infrastructure, the air inside the home turns over 12 times every hour.
It will require them to rebuild the ceiling on the upper level, plug any areas of the home where air is leaking and they will install a heat pump.
The couple also plans on installing a green roof to expand the lifespan while making the surface of the roof cooler.
The competition started in September, the first challenge centred around reducing carbon emission through transportation — an easy one for the Waddell-Shankland family because they don’t own a vehicle.
“The kids bike everywhere, we bike everywhere,” said Waddell.
Without a car Waddell commutes to Detroit for work, she does that using her bike and the tunnel bus.
One of the more creative parts of the competition is celebrating Thanksgiving with an emphasis on keeping it more environmentally friendly. That’s where the garden they’ve planted will come in handy, they’re weeks away from harvesting a large pumpkin for a pie.
The family will complete all the challenges by the middle of December.
The couple said the competition forces them to wake up in the morning thinking about ways to decarbonize their lives, an advantage they know others don’t have but they have some advice for Windsorites also interested in reducing emissions.
“The infrastructure isn’t there, it’s hard to change habits and patterns … so find the things that motivate you,” Luke Shankland said.
“Whether it’s money or inspiring other people or having a nicer, prettier house, there’s lots of reasons to put the work in,” said Waddell.