The cost of hidden oil can be all too much – but only if we let it be.
As other blog posts indicate: Oil is in fact ubiquitous. The awareness of this issue is highly alarming, and can often be overwhelming. Even with the knowledge of this issue, individuals may not be inspired and driven into immediate action – or ever any action.
Just like many ecological/environmental problems, the issue will tend to resonate (in some shape or form), but may not always trigger personal change. Why? It seems as if the first inclination is to think and the second is to ignore (I know I’m guilty of this!). This is not because a person doesn’t care or feel for the issue, but because he/she may feel a degree of powerlessness. The depth and severity of the issue is often perceived as out of reach. It can be all too overwhelming and far too daunting.
The cost of hidden oil throws up this tricky predicament: What can I do about this issue? Especially, since it is perceived that we (as consumers) have no real control in what is being produced. It’s easy to jump to the conclusion that oil industries will continue to do as they please – it’s not possible to stop mass production, and therefore there is no point in trying. Case closed.
However, this mistaken assumption that change must start with a gigantic, revolutionary act is what causes this predicament. Often, this is what triggers many of us to be overwhelmed - causing us to ignore and forget. In this case, change can be the small things we do in our day-to-day lives. It’s the domino effect the we’re working towards. Big change must always start from somewhere. We should be really asking ourselves: What can I do to lessen the amount of oil I use? Taking small steps, bringing about small changes in our personal lives, makes the issue less daunting and more realistic.
Not sure where to start? Here are three things you can do today, tomorrow, or next week to bring about the those changes in your own lives:
1. Are you still using plastic bags? It was found that “about 8% to 10% of our total oil supply goes to making plastic…an average American throws away about 10 bags a week” . Reusable grocery bags (i.e. cloth) and shopping totes are the best alternative. Bring them with you to shopping malls and grocery stores. Give your reusable bag to your grocery packer. Refuse plastic! The same goes for plastic water bottles. Switch to a water bottle that is not only plastic-free, but reusable (ex. Hydro Flask).
2. Shopping for clothes? Know what you are buying. Quality over quantity. Organic cotton or hemp (i.e. natural fibers) materials are alternatives to clothing made from oil derivatives (ex. synthetic fibers). Read more at http://www.treehugger.com/style/50-surprising-fashion-and-beauty-products-made-from-oil-that-you-probably-use-everyday-even-if-youre-green.html
3. Recycle, recycle, recycle! Are you continuously throwing out plastic containers and other plastic "trash"? Recycle and re-use them. This may seem basic, but many consumers still do not recycle. For many of us, this is a simple as separating our trash appropriately. Read more at http://grist.org/article/plastics/
Hopefully, these three things illustrate what you can do to realistically make that change. Most environmental activists advocate the importance of interdependence: “Any step you take—large or small—toward reducing your personal consumption of oil is a positive step” . Down below are more simple ways to take those steps in your own life. Check them out. Try them out. Try a few first, then gradually build. See where it takes you. Spread the word and make a difference. You’ll find that you can get started as early as today.
 Plastic bags and petroleum. (n.d.). Retrieved from http://1bagatatime.com/learn/plastic-bags-petroleum/
 Pawula, S. (2010, June 6). 11 ways to reduce your oil use. Retrieved from http://alwayswellwithin.com/2010/06/06/reducing-personal-oil-use/
Recycling used oil [Online image]. (n.d.). Retrieved February 19, 2017 from https://www.cityofsacramento.org/Public-Works/RSW/Collection-Services/Household-Hazardous-Waste/Used-Motor-Oil-and-Filters
Natural fiber [Online image]. (n.d.). Retrieved February 19, 2017 from https://www.pinterest.com/pin/541487555172024327/
Life cycle of a paper bag [Online image]. (n.d.). Retrieved February 19, 2017 from http://www.factorydirectpromos.com/life-cycle-of-a-plastic-bag