Energy Diet

McGrath Family

We are a young family from Clarington, Ontario in Canada. We have four children ages 6, 4, 2, and 'new' (4 months) and are passionate about conserving energy, reducing waste and especially being resourceful when it comes to making eco-sustainable changes. Somebody once told me it was "environmentally irresponsible to have more than one child," but I say children are our future and if we can instill in them strong values to be responsible stewards of the world around them, then we have hope.


Canada Participants

Your Points Percentile:
Total Country Participants:

At Home (83%)

  • Changed thermostat
  • Changed settings on refrigerator, freezer, water heater and washer
  • Replaced at least one third of light bulbs with CFLs or LEDs
  • Disconnected electronic devices when not in use

Wild Card Items

  • Eliminated second freezer or refrigerator
  • Insulated water heater
  • Replaced appliances with green-certified products
  • Hung clothes up to dry instead of using the dryer
  • Sealed all of the windows and doors
  • My own action: Only run dishwasher when full

Food (100%)

  • Ate a vegetarian diet one day a week
  • Cut down on take-away meals
  • Limited daily intake of beef to 8 ounces
  • Switched to sustainable seafood

Wild Card Items

  • Started a food-based garden
  • Ate vegan or raw for a certain number of days per week
  • Bought grass-fed beef instead of conventional
  • Gave up at least one processed food
  • My own action: substituting sugar for locally produced honey

Transportation (85%)

  • Drove no faster than the posted the speed limit, avoided rapid acceleration or braking
  • Removed extra weight from car, inflated tires
  • Used public transportation instead of driving
  • Reduced your planned air travel by one trip

Wild Card Items

  • Bought carbon offsets for travel
  • Carpooled or found a ride-sharing program
  • Invested in a more fuel-efficient car
  • My own action: Went without a family car for more than half a year

Waste Disposal And Reduction (86%)

  • Recycled all glass, aluminum, plastic, batteries and paper
  • Eliminated advertising mail
  • Changed to paperless billing
  • Eliminated the use of plastic and paper bags

Wild Card Items

  • Began composting at home
  • Used biodegradable bags for trash or walking the dog
  • Recycled or donated old athletic shoes and clothes
  • Recycled or donated old electronics
  • My own action: Make second-hand purchases

Water Use (100%)

  • Gave up bottled water
  • Turned off tap when brushing teeth, scrubbing dishes
  • Shortened showering time
  • Replaced shower head with a low-flow model

Wild Card Items

  • Used xeriscaping for yard
  • Installed a rain barrel to collect water for garden, lawn and plants
  • Installed a low-flow toilet
  • My own action: Use Grey Water for watering plants

What You Buy (100%)

  • Tallied stats for water, electricity, natural gas and gasoline use
  • Switched to organic produce
  • Switched to eco-friendly cleaning methods
  • Switched to locally made (non-produce) products where possible

Wild Card Items

  • Cut use of disposable items
  • Repaired or extended use of clothing items
  • Stopped using wrapping paper for gifts
  • Changed Printing Habits
  • Rented or borrowed instead of buying infrequently used items
  • My own action: give memories, not gifts
Total Points: 610

Becoming Second Nature

Over the past weeks of the 360 Energy Diet, we as a family had hoped to achieve even more freedom from being dependent on energy use: We set out to collect rain water to water the garden, which we have done and will continue to do. We wanted to hang a clothesline to dry the…

How We Are Moved

Tonight, I’m writing from Vancouver. Fitting, isn’t it, for the post about transportation? Almost two weeks ago, my youngest child and I flew here from Toronto. It’s the first time in four years that I’ve returned since having moved in 2007 to Ontario. We are here waiting for my sister to have her first baby —…

Buy Memories, Not Stuff

When it comes to consumption, we try to abide by the mantra “buy memories, not stuff.” This can be applied to areas like entertainment, gifts, lifestyle, and especially holidays like birthdays and Christmas. It’s a matter of rethinking what is left behind – the wrapping paper, the decorations, the packaging, etc and how you can…

Moveable Feasts

Now here is an area that comes very naturally to us. We are passionate about food, health, and the environment so we do whatever it takes to make improvements here in all areas. Both of us have been on mostly vegetarian diets for the past 15 years or more, and with the exception of the…

We’ve heard that the key to reducing household waste isn’t just Reduce, Reuse, Recycle – but “Refuse” should be the first word. Refuse to buy the items in bigger packaging. Refuse the hand-me-down toys and items that we know we don’t need. Refuse to send our children to school with excessive drink and snack packaging.…

The Complexities of Water

Water conservation is one of those measures that are near-to-invisible. We are privileged here in Canada to be able to turn on the tap and have fresh water at our ‘disposal’ – and yet, most of us at home do not really see or measure what we use & pour down the drain. We are…


Tonight we audited our household consumption and have realized, to our delight, that for some time, we have already been regularly following many of the suggested energy diet tips and feel like we are off to a good start. After scoring ourselves on the challenge, we can now visualize where our stengths lie (Water Conservation),…

A little over a year ago, we moved to a sleepy little town 45 minutes east of Toronto, Ontario, where we had been living for 2 years. We sort of got burnt out on the city, and at the same time, crowded out of our two-bedroom bungalow with the arrival of our third child. Though…