The Blumke household
The story of a Brisbane Carbon Challenge champion household.
Total emissions reduction: 55%
About the household
The Blumke family – Lisa, Peter and their son – live in a spacious house in East Brisbane. Coming into the Brisbane Carbon Challenge, their household carbon emissions were almost exactly the Brisbane average. Through simple behaviour changes across transport, energy and waste, the Blumkes managed to exceed their target with a 55% reduction in their household carbon footprint.
Action can inspire change in others
During the Brisbane Carbon Challenge, the Blumkes’ family, neighbours and friends were inspired by the actions they took to reduce their carbon emissions. For example, the Blumkes added four compost bins to the side of their property that were frequently used as they tended their lawn and garden. Neighbours along the street soon became curious and after asking questions about composting, purchased their own compost bins.
Switching to active travel
As a two-vehicle family, the Blumkes were like most households across Brisbane, defaulting to jumping in the car when they needed to go out. During the Brisbane Carbon Challenge, the family made a conscious effort to stop using one of their cars. As Lisa said, ‘We reduced our emissions by only having one car so we were forced to walk, use public transport or ride a bike.’
The benefits included, ‘stress release and good exercise for the family’. However, the change wasn’t without its obstacles. As they couldn’t carry a lot, cycling was impractical for trips such as a big grocery shop.
Still, Lisa’s advice for people investigating sustainable transport methods to lower their emissions and bills is, ‘if possible, become a one car family’.
Rethinking pet waste
At the beginning of the Brisbane Carbon Challenge, the Blumke family were disposing a lot of paper and cardboard waste in their general waste bin headed for landfill. It turned out they had a pet guinea pig and were lining the cage with used newspaper – which of course was then not suitable for recycling. Lisa considered various options to reduce the amount of paper waste while still meeting the safety and hygiene needs of their family pet. In the end, they lined the cage with a cardboard box that could be hosed off, meaning it could be used multiple times before throwing it out.
Sometimes it’s not easy going green(power)
One of the actions on the Blumkes emissions reduction plan was purchasing 100% renewable energy through GreenPower. While the Blumke’s energy retailer offered GreenPower, the contract the Blumkes were on locked them into their pre-existing plan, and didn’t allow any changes until the contract renewal. As a result, they couldn’t complete this action during the Brisbane Carbon Challenge timeframe.
Instead, they reduced the amount of energy they used by covering their windows to keep the summer heat out and winter heat in, using fans instead of the air conditioner, and switching off lights and appliances when not in use. These actions helped the family reduce their energy emissions by 46%.