5 New Year’s Resolutions to Curb Your Oil Use

We all know the serious environmental effect of our use of oil but how to we start weaning ourselves off our petroleum addiction? The New Year gives you a chance to make a resolution (or five) to start creating an oil free life and become part of the solution:

1. Go local: Planes, trains, automobiles, and all transportation accounts for 70% of our oil use. This year make a commitment to support your local community. In any town you will find riches like soap, furniture, clothes, candles, toys, dishware that have been made by your neighbors and are often made using locally made materials. Plus many towns have thrift and vintage shops that help reuse materials that have already been made. Cut down on the need for shipping and discover what your town has to offer.

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2. Ditch your car: Gasoline fuel accounts for 40% of oil use in the United States. Therefore if you commit to one thing this year to reduce your dependency on oil it should be to drive less. Breaking up with your car might not be easy but you can start slowly. Currently Americans only walk or bike on 31% of trips to places less than a mile away. It takes only 20 minutes for most of us to walk a mile and only 7 minutes to bike so it should be easy to transform these trips into a healthy activity for you and the earth. Stop worrying about parking and ride your bike to work. Warm up by running to the gym instead of driving. Teach healthy lifestyles by walking or biking with your children to school instead of piling them into the car each morning. Get a basket for your bike to go shopping at a grocery store or farmer’s market. This website can help you break your driving habit.

3. Take the train or bus: Flying is a terrible strain on the environment, while driving is only marginally better, if we really want to reduce oil consumption while we travel, we need to travel together. The next time you take a cross country adventure look into taking a train, bus, or car-pooling. Even if you are just going an hour away, there are a growing number of regional transportation options that can easily get you to one city to the next that use far less oil.

4. Eat sustainable food: From petroleum based fertilizers to transportation, the agriculture industry accounts for 17% of our oil use. Looking for sustainable food is not as easy as looking for the organic label (though organic is a start). Try supporting local farmers using sustainable farming practices or better yet make the commitment to grow your own food this year. Your garden can be a well-spring of affordable, nutritious, oil-free produce if you have the time and knowledge. Here’s a great guide to oil-free gardening. 

5. Reduce, reuse, and recycle plastic: While recycling is certainly a great first step to reducing oil consumption the other two Rs don’t get much play. Try to look for packaging and materials that do not use plastic or look at these fun ways to reuse the plastic you have lying around your house.

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Robyn Stegman

I have always been active in my community and have tried my hand at many different aspects of social change from preserving historic documents at the Woodrow Wilson Presidential Library to founding Geeks for Good, an organization that matches nonprofits with tech savvy volunteers. Throughout my career, I have worked with 21 nonprofit organizations to create new websites, marketing materials, campaigns, and programs that help build relationships, empower change makers, and create strong, vibrant communities. I serve as Project Specialist at Campaign Consultation, Inc. Read more.

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