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

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

48 Scopus citations


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.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)97-117
Number of pages21
JournalUrban Ecosystems
Issue number2
StatePublished - Jun 2007

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
Acknowledgments We are grateful to C. Milesi and D. Nowak for providing model output used in our Household Flux Calculator. This research was supported by NSF Biocomplexity Proejct EAR-0322065 to L. Baker.


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


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