Human Ecology Term Paper

Excerpt from Term Paper :

running the daily operations for a family household. Consider a typical household and family -- two adults and two children. The task at hand needs as much planning and utilization of resources as any organization; except, in this case, on a smaller scale and with a lower-risk.

The paper will look in depth at the resources and requirements of the household and the optimum and their optimum utilization. These factors will be deemed necessary for this (test) family to grow and prosper in the long-term.

The test case scenario for this paper is a household and its members. This essay presents the household as an organization where certain facets need to be addressed: efficiency of operation within the family, its financial goals and aims at betterment. It should be borne in mind that emotional considerations, key for a family, fall out of the purview of this work.

Resource requirement and resource consumption

Productivity in any organization -- manufacturing or otherwise -- is generally assumed to be any action or series of actions that are taken to enable the company to get closer to its goal. The same principle applies to a family planning to achieve its goals for each of the family's members.

The family requires two types of resources: fixed and variable. Fixed resources include a house or apartment to accommodate the four individuals. The house can either be rented or purchased. This is based on various factors: the purchasing power of the family, the need to build equity or the personal decision to reside in a chosen area. The size of the apartment can vary. However, a minimum of two bedrooms, two bathrooms, a kitchen and a living room would be considered a basic requirement. A house, if purchased, is considered a long-term investment. It will serve its purpose (to a family) for 25-30 years unless the family chooses to change accommodations. To make the house habitable, standard utilities such as electricity, phone services, gas and water are also required. These resources will have to be purchased from a local utility facility and a monthly fee will have to be paid for these services. Failure to pay utility bills will result in the cancellation of these services.

The house will require some basic kitchen equipment such as a gas/electric stove and a refrigerator. Some additional items may also be considered essential in the kitchen -- a microwave, food processor, coffee machine, toaster and dishwasher -- all affording the family a better quality of life. Most consumer gadgets for the home have a working life of five years and will require periodic replacement. The equipment will also require consumable resources -- for the dishwasher will require detergent, the coffee machine filters. In addition, cleaning and general maintenance supplies for all these necessities are necessary. These are the 'variable' commodities. They will be required for all the home equipment to function properly and reduce the "break-down" time of these equipments.

The family also requires other consumer goods for leisure and recreation. A television set, video player, stereo system, answering machines and a computer are considered 'must-haves' equipments for a household. These gadgets can have a life span from two to five years. In many cases, they may be replaced when the equipment becomes obsolete.

The family will also require other consumer resources; these requirements will vary over time. Paper products in the form of bath tissues, facial tissue, personal hygiene products, clothes and items for crafts and hobbies will also have to be purchased. Food is the biggest consumable. It can be either purchased in the raw form, semi-finished or as a finished product. Most food in the raw form will require proper storage, for many of these items may have very short shelf life. Perishable foods are generally purchased on an "as needed" basis; non-perishable food items can be purchased in bulk to obtain a cheaper rate and stored for an extended period.

Lower inventories of requirements in the household require better co-ordination and a constant effort to replenish dwindling stock. The adults in the household require better communication and an understanding of the rate of consumption of the product or goods in the household. Both adults should also be empowered to deal with any problems arising from the process within his or her control. No individual can identify and analyze all the factors affecting a situation alone. Getting feedback from all members of the family generally ensures good decision-making. Inventory control of the supplies requires that the individual responsible possess an in depth understanding of the family requirements and needs, and ways of developing solutions to long-term requirements for goods and services used by the family. Just-in-time purchasing techniques can help reduce inventory and timeframes. This may be a good choice when space-storage is a problem or in cases of financial constraints.

Most household items are generally purchased from a local retail or wholesale vendor. Most households also often practice comparison-shopping between various vendors in order to get "the best bang for their buck." Quality is an important consideration. More often, household will prefer to get better quality goods as opposed to ones of cheaper or inferior quality.

It is becoming more common for families to purchase specialty products and goods using mail order catalogues or websites. In most cases, standard shipping is used; in cases where the product is expensive or perishable however, an express delivery system may be used.

Another important consideration when buying products in bulk is the space for storage of these items in the family house. If storage space is critical, the choice between buying in bulk to save money and the shortage of space to store the bulk goods should be weighed. Time constraints in the average household also increases the family's dependence on semi-finished and finished food items as compared to a few decades back. In order to cook from scratch, a variety of other kitchen equipment and tools are required. Balancing the need to buy these additional tools vs. using readily available semi-finished food products is an important consideration.

In locales where temperatures vary, the household may also require a suitable heating and/or cooling system. The efforts that the household takes in maintaining the equipment used for these services also goes a long way in helping the equipments work to their best efficiencies and reduce operating cost. (Fox, 1999)

Regular and periodic overhauling and cleaning of the equipment during off-peak season will also reduce the failure of the system during the high peak season of utilization.

Another important and critical commodity needed by most families is a reliable means of transportation -- a car. In today's world, good transportation is a necessity not a luxury. After a house, a car is probably the most expensive commodity owned by the family. In many cases, though two cars per family is a norm. There are additional costs associated with owning a car: insurance, car maintenance cost and taxes.

Products and Services Used by the Household

In addition to the maintenance requirements, the household also uses other services like garbage disposal services, local library and school services and local county services -- these are more community services that individual services. The county or town may levy a fee for services provided by them to their constituents. This fee is a collective fee based on the number or residents in the community and the level of service provided. For example, some counties may have more frequent garbage collection services and may therefore impose a higher service fee. A household cannot negotiate price for services in this case (especially where competition for such services does not exist). Occasionally, however, a collective demand can be made initiated by members of a community.

A household bears the responsibility to 'produce' individuals that are honest and responsible members of society. These individuals will help improve the relative quality of life in the society, city/town and country in which they live. A production of this nature is very difficult to quantify in the short-term range but long-term analysis will identify that the 'product' from this household has helped improve their personal standard of living.

The ability of a family to have sufficient funds for their personal existence while at the same time saving enough for an emergency is also critical for the family. (Morgan, 1997) Other savings are also important: for example: saving for retirements and savings for the children's education. This requires that the family be adept at budgeting and money management in order to achieve their financial goals. Joint decisions have to be made by the two 'executives' (the adults in the household) to attain these goals.


Most of the equipment used in the household today come with an efficency rating and ways by which the owner of the equipment of reducing the cost of operations using proper operating techniquies. Good operating technices should also be adopted, e.g., driving the car with a view to increasing performance and lifetime. Regular and periodic maintenace of…

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