Blog — Using Less Plastic


20 Everyday Ways to Use Less Oil 1

Oil and petroleum products dominate our day-to-day lives, often in ways that may not be obvious. Although it is tough to eliminate that daily car commute (unless you happily live close enough to be able to ride a bicycle to work), there are small but effective changes you can make you reduce your oil dependence. Every little bit helps, and we've compiled some of our favorite tips for rethinking your everyday oil usage.


1.  Start a Carpool

Even two people commuting together on the daily ride to work is a great idea for using less oil (and saving money). You can also search online for ride sharing opportunities that already exist in your city.


2. Buy Organic and/or Local Seasonal Produce


Commercial fertilizers and pesticides rely heavily on petrochemicals for their production. Switching to organic can dramatically reduce oil usage. Similarly, even conventional produce that is locally grown and sold eliminates the hundreds (and even thousands) of miles of transportation that grocery store produce travels before making its way to your table. And to further reduce your oil usage, you can...


3.  Grow a Garden

Even the smallest spaces can yield a surprising number of vegetables and herbs!  For apartments and balconies, container gardens can supplement your local produce shopping, and raised beds are an excellent way to convert small backyards into lush, high-yield garden spaces. Use natural fertilizers, such as organic fish emulsion, and check the internet for a wealth of DIY organic pesticide sprays, made from botanicals and safe household ingredients.


4. Use a Manual Push Mower

Save gas, save money, and get a great workout all at the same time! It's a win-win for you and the Earth!


5. Ditch Those Disposables

Invest in a set of reusable plates and cutlery for all of your picnics, parties and outdoor events. Disposable paper products and, even worse, disposable plastic products are not only an unnecessary waste of oil (in production and creation) but they add to our already brimming landfills. You can find great alternatives made from glass, bamboo and even recycled BPA free plastic that are lively and festive while reducing waste, oil use, and saving you money!

 6. Stop Using Bottled Water

Besides all of the ethical and ecological repercussions of purchasing bottled water (which we will discuss in a future blog post), production of these disposable bottles requires a vast amount of oil. In the United States alone, the production of one year's worth of bottles consumes over 17 million barrels of oil! Instead, take along a reusable container, and fill your bottle from water fountains, municipal water sources, or take advantage of free water at restaurants and fast food establishments. You can find our favorite reusable glass bottles HERE


7. Download Music, Games and Movies

Besides the fact that it's usually cheaper, faster and easier to download your favorite movies, music and games, it's better for the planet! CDs and DVDs are made almost entirely from pure polycarbonate plastic, are usually sold in a plastic case, and then shirk wrapped in, you guessed it, plastic! Save time, money and oil with instant downloads.


8. Bring Your Own Bags to Shop

(Photo credit:Bruno and Betty. Click the picture for product information)
Many cities have recognized the unnecessary waste of disposable plastic bags and the detrimental effect they have on our land and oceans, and have put bans into place. Happily, it's easy to bring your own bags with you when you shop by storing a few in your trunk, or even keeping a little pouch bag in your purse. Many stores offer their own branded shopping bags for purchase at a nominal price, and there are countless artisans and businesses that create amazing reusable bags to fit every need and individual taste. Reusable cloth bags are multi-functional and also great for picnics, the gym, a trip to the beach, and more!


 9. Avoid Synthetic Fabrics in Clothing

Fabrics like polyester, acrylic and nylon are all made from petroleum products. A better solution? Choose clothing made from natural fiber, such as organic cotton, hemp, and wool. And don't forget about those plastic jewelry accessories! Try mixing it up with natural stones, sustainable wood or recycled glass jewelry.


10. Use Natural Beauty Products

(Photo credit: Little Seed Farm. Click the picture for product information)
With the recent outrage and potential bans of plastic microbeads in cosmetics, folks are starting to examine just what they are putting on their skin and into our lakes and oceans. A surprising number of petrochemicals and oil byproducts lurk in your bathroom, including shampoos, lotions, lipstick, perfumes, makeup and even baby skin care products.  The simple solution? Switch to natural bath and beauty products. Most companies that boast a truly all-natural or organic label will happily provide (if not brag about) their ingredient lists, and you can rest easy knowing that you are not adding unwanted petroleum products into your beauty regimen. Want to see how your current favorite products measure up? Check their ingredient lists and safety rating HERE.


11. Switch to Beeswax or Soy Candles

Most commercial candles are made from paraffin wax, which is derived from petroleum, coal and oil byproducts. Make the switch to natural soy or beeswax candles to beautify your home while reducing your oil usage!


12.  Buy Fewer Plastic Toys

In a marketplace saturated with plastic toys, it's hard to go completely green when your kids get excited about the next big toy craze. By limiting plastic toys and adding in eco-friendly alternatives, such as toys made from sustainable wood, you can reduce your oil dependence in the playroom. Wooden toys may be a slightly larger investment, but the great news is that they are durable and long lasting, and often become family heirlooms that can be passed down for generations.


13.  Change Your Home Energy Habits

You don't need to invest in expensive equipment or remodeling to reduce oil dependence in your home. Starting new habits, like dropping the thermostat by a few degrees, turning off lights and computers, and checking your air ducts can significantly "greenify" your home. Check out this great article that busts some common myths about energy conservation at home:  Myth Busters: 8 Ideas About Energy Debunked!


14.  Regularly Maintain Your Vehicle
Keeping your vehicle in top shape will improve your gas mileage, reducing the amount of petroleum you use. Schedule regular tune-ups, keep tires inflated, use your manufacturer's suggested oil grade, and replace clogged filters.


15. Buy Used
With second-hand stores, garage sales, and internet sites like Craigslist, there couldn't be a better time to thrift! Buying pre-owned greatly reduces the demand for new production and saves raw materials and petroleum-fueled energy costs.  Plus, you can save money on fantastic finds.


16.  Shop From Grocery Bulk Bins
Plastic packaging is hard to avoid at the grocery store. You can greatly reduce the waste by shopping from bulk bins. You can even bring your own reusable cotton sacks or glass jars (many stores will let you weigh these at the register in advance so that you only pay for food weight). Many commonly used kitchen items can be purchased in bulk, such as salt, flour, nuts, spices, beans, cereals and even oatmeal. As a bonus, it's a great economical idea as well, as bulk pricing in general costs less per pound than conventionally packaged dry goods.


17.  Compost Your Food Waste
By combining home recycling and composting, you can quickly and permanently reduce the amount of plastic garbage bags your family uses, and contribute far less to landfills. Home composting is easier than ever, with tons of new books and free information on the internet. Best of all, you have a rich, fertile and free compost for your backyard garden!


18.  Switch to Safety Razors
Remember that cool shaving set your grandpa had, complete with a bristle brush and metal bowl? Safety razors are reusable, eco-friendly, and best of all, they work better than plastic!  Those disposable plastic razors can quickly add up, both economically and environmentally. Classic safety razors can be reused indefinitely, and you only have to change the metal blade. They are making a comeback (and rightfully so) and you can find fantastic styles online, from simple to ornate!


19. Opt for Non-Plastic Food Storage
With so many fantastic food storage options, who needs plastic? Instead choose glass, ceramic and clay crockery, or stainless steel. Glass allows for easy visibility, and tempered glass allows you to go from the oven to the fridge to the dishwasher with ease. Ceramic is great for both cooking and storage, and stainless is ideal for keeping sunlight away from stored dry baking goods. Best of all, no icky chemicals leeching into your food!
20.  Say "No Thanks"
The easiest way to reduce your oil dependence may be to remain mindful of the small unnecessary conveniences offered to you throughout your week. Picking up takeout on the way home? Just say, "No thanks" to the staples you already have at the house, like sauces and condiments in plastic packages or plastic utensils. Got to the produce section and you forgot your reusable produce bags? Opt out of bagging your produce and simply add them as is to your grocery basket. Individually bagging each type of produce is wasteful and unnecessary... you can simply wash it when you get home. Do you even need a bag at the checkout counter? Why waste plastic on a few items that could easily be carried out in your hands? And at outdoor events that don't allow you to bring in your own water bottle, ask if the plastic cups are refillable, even if at full price. By staying aware of the unneeded plastic items we are offered every day, we can politely say "No thanks" to waste.



Do you have any oil reduction tips to share? We'd love to hear how you have made simple changes that reduce your oil and petroleum dependence!