Oil has found its way into nearly every aspect of our lives, whether we realize it or not. From the cars we drive to the food we eat and the products we buy, it has played a role. We know it is a limited resource that we will one day have to live without, so it makes sense that we should start learning to live without it now.
Time For Change
From 1960 to 2013 the average world oil demand increased from 21.4 million to 89.9 million barrels per day. At the same time, the world’s oil supply has been declining and we are now looking into drilling in the Arctic rather than turning to alternative options that we already know exist. Rather than continuing on the destructive path of the last century, it’s time we make the 21st century all about renewable resources.
The Options Are Out There, We Just Need To Start Choosing Them
First, we need to recognize the places in which oil is present in our daily lives. We can then identify the alternatives and make better choices so that we can get off oil and hopefully prevent future spills and drilling in the Arctic. Below are some examples of how you can be a part of the difference, while saving money and improving your lifestyle.
A large portion of oil is used for automobiles, so it goes without saying that this is where we can make the biggest difference.
- Drive a hybrid, electric, or clean energy vehicle
There are a lot of options these days and more will become available if demand increases. Not only will you be consuming less oil and reduce your carbon footprint, you will also save time and money. With my Honda Insight, I fill up once every 3 weeks for $35 a tank in LA.
- Walk, Bike or Take Public Transportation
If you usually drive to shops and restaurants that are close by, walk or bike instead. You’ll get some fresh air and exercise. If you live in a city with public transportation, hop on the bus or train.
Hitch a ride with friends, family, or coworkers whenever possible. You can also use car services like Uber Pool or Lyft Line. They’ll pick you and another passenger up that’s nearby and heading in the same direction. Plus, you split the cost so you can keep your hard earned money in your wallet.
- Shop Local
Buying produce, clothing and products that are locally grown, sourced and manufactured reduces the amount of gas needed in the transportation process. Or, find used items on Craigslist, at flea markets, or at garage sales.
Many of the most basic products we use on a daily basis are made from substances derived from crude oil. This includes household cleaners, beauty products, food/beverages, clothing and much more.
- Cleaning Products
You can make your own cleaners with basic ingredients you might already have at home (i.e. vinegar and baking soda). Learn more here. Otherwise, companies like Method and Seventh Generation provide some great cleaning products minus the petroleum-based ingredients.
- Beauty Products
If using petroleum derived chemicals on your skin doesn’t sound like a good idea, it probably isn’t. Why risk it when there are plenty of natural products to choose from at any price range. Check the label before you buy and avoid products containing PEG, ethylene oxide (ingredients ending in “-eth”) or fragrance, all of which are petrochemicals. For a full list check here.
- Anything Plastic
Plastic is also made from petroleum and does not break down. It ends up in our landfills, oceans and in the belly’s of animals who mistake it for food. Avoid plastic bottles, use reusable cups and bags instead. Buy products that are not made from plastic whenever you have the choice. Many common goods can now be made sustainably from wood, metal, or even plants.
Instead of nylon, polyester and other synthetic, petroleum derived clothes, buy clothes made from natural fiber such as cotton, hemp, silk, linen, or rayon. It’s more comfortable for you and the environment.
Continued Change, Long Term Benefits
Of course the ideas above are only some of the ways we can reduce oil consumption. It is a complex problem that will require efforts from not only us citizens, but corporations and governments as well. However, by taking responsibility for our own actions first, we can stimulate change in others. In the end, we can all benefit from a less oil dependent world.
Images from PG&E and stock photos.