In this age of peak oil and historic oil spills, here are everyday things we can do to reduce our dependence on oil
If the Gulf spill isn’t a big enough reason to make us realize we need to get beyond our oil dependence, here are a few more: oil causes air pollution and climate change, it poisons water and our soil, it is the cause of conflicts and human suffering. And, according to peak oil theorists, we are fast approaching the point where demand and dependence will far outstrip our ability to produce enough of it.
The good news is we waste a lot of the stuff. So by consciously cutting down on our oil use while seeking out new technologies, we can radically reduce our demand. I took a look at some of the changes my family has made in our lifestyle this year and combined them with ideas from the Internet to come up with a list of ways to reduce our dependence on oil.
My list is by no means exhaustive. I’m sure if I spent another hour researching I could easily come up with 50 ideas. So please add your thoughts in the comments section, every drop matters.
23 ways to reduce your oil consumption
1. Support city council in the development of bike lanes and bike-friendly initiatives.
2. Encourage businesses to add bike racks to their parking areas.
3. If you're buying a car, check out fueleconomy.gov for info on the most efficient cars, trucks and SUVs in every category, all tested by the EPA using consistent methods (I know this is a US listing so if you’ve seen a Canadian equivalent, please let me know).
4. Instead of driving to the gym, walk, run or bike.
5. Make sure your tires are properly inflated and take unused items out of your trunk.
6. Carpool, bus, bike or walk to work.
7. Support local mass transit improvements.
8. Choose a neighborhood where you can walk to local restaurants and grocery stores rather than driving to more distant ones.
9. Don't support the expansion of oil drilling.
10. Try your best to live close to the stuff you do, or do stuff close to where you live.
11. Use less plastic. Buy a cloth bag to bring to the store, and avoid products with excessive packaging. Don’t buy bottled water.
12. Don’t buy gasoline powered leaf blowers and lawn mowers. Use their eco-friendly and calorie-burning alternatives: the rake and push mower.
13. Buy locally grown food since shipping food long distances uses lots of oil. If you've got some extra balcony, roof or yard space, try growing some of your own.
14. Support telecommuting for distant business meetings and avoid flying.
15. Take the train instead of a plane when possible.
16. Oil companies have a strong voice in the government and the environment needs lobbyists too. Write letters, make calls and donate to an environmental group that is pushing for clean, renewable energy (e.g. Greenpeace, Sierra Club, etc.)
17. If you use heating oil over the winter, turn your thermostat down and put on an extra layer.
18. Explore and support greener technologies wherever you can.
19. If you’re building a new home, opt for one that is Net Zero Energy.
20. Insulate your home more efficiently.
21. Lobby the government to require all cars to at least have stop-start hybrid technology. This is the most basic component of hybrid tech, which makes it so the car doesn't use gasoline while idling. This would add to the cost of a car but pay for itself in saved gas, while reducing oil use and pollution.
22. Wash your clothes on the cold or warm setting, not hot. They’ll be just as clean and will stay brighter for longer.
23. Believe we can make a difference. Boycotting a single oil company doesn’t work well, but decreases in our dependence on oil will have an impact.