Urban Ecosystems

, Volume 10, Issue 2, pp 97–117 | Cite as

Effect of consumption choices on fluxes of carbon, nitrogen and phosphorus through households

  • Lawrence A. Baker
  • Paul M. Hartzheim
  • Sarah E. Hobbie
  • Jennifer Y. King
  • Kristen C. Nelson


Households are an important scale of analysis for human ecosystems because they are a major source of pollutants and could thus be a new focus for pollution management, particularly for education-based source reduction strategies. The household is also a meaningful unit for analysis of human ecosystems, being common to all human cultures. This study develops a Household Flux Calculator (HFC) to compute C, N, and P fluxes for scenarios intended to represent three levels of household consumption: low, typical, and high. All three scenarios were developed for suburban households with two adults and two children in the Minneapolis-St. Paul (Twin Cities) metropolitan area, Minnesota. Calculated ratios of fluxes between high and low consumption households were 3.5:1 for C, 2.7:1 for N and 1.4:1 for P. Results suggest a high level of discretionary consumption that could be reduced without a substantial reduction in standard of living. Thus, modest changes in behavior in high consumption households would greatly reduce fluxes of C, N, and P without major changes in lifestyle.


Household Household ecosytem Lawn Fertilizer Emissions Food Wastewater Flux Carbon Nitrogen Phosphorus 


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media, LLC 2006

Authors and Affiliations

  • Lawrence A. Baker
    • 1
  • Paul M. Hartzheim
    • 2
  • Sarah E. Hobbie
    • 3
  • Jennifer Y. King
    • 3
    • 4
  • Kristen C. Nelson
    • 5
  1. 1.Water Resources CenterUniversity of MinnesotaSt. PaulUSA
  2. 2.Water Resources Science Graduate ProgramUniversity of MinnesotaSt. PaulUSA
  3. 3.Department of Ecology, Evolution, and BehaviorUniversity of MinnesotaSt. PaulUSA
  4. 4.Department of Soil, Water and ClimateUniversity of MinnesotaSt. PaulUSA
  5. 5.Department of Forest Resources and Department of Fisheries, Wildlife, and Conservation BiologyUniversity of MinnesotaSt. PaulUSA

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