Going totally oil-free not as easy as it looks

After I wrote about what would be safe energy last week, I was challenged to rid myself of petroleum products in my household.
The challenge seemed pretty easy to begin with. I would do away with my gas-powered lawn mower and a few solvents I have in my woodworking shop.
It would be simple.
And then someone asked, “Are you going to get rid of that garden hose that you use to water your lawn and flower gardens?”
I hadn’t considered the hose, or many of the plumbing pipes and shut-offs in my house and cottage.
And then that same person asked, “Are you going to get rid of your runners and fleece sweaters? What about your winter coat?”
This person was really serious in challenging me—and I wondered what other petroleum-based products were found in the house.
I just had to look at my computer and see the case of the laptop was a plastic, as was the flat screen monitor. That meant the flat screen TV also was destined to be removed, as were the clock radios in the kitchen and bedroom and the phones throughout the house.
Ouch. The information age was about to be set back a century.
As I began looking at labels in the kitchen, a label struck me: “edible oil based product”. Another setback.
And then I looked at the cellophane wrapping on the meat from the grocery store, the plastic wrapping around cookies that were packaged, and even the bags of milk in the milk counter at the super market.
The fridge is lined in plastic.
And in the bathroom, there was the soft soap and the shampoo made with petroleum products. Even band-aids are plastic.
I walked into the living room and realized the carpet that I was walking on was a petroleum product. And the vacuum cleaner that our household used to pick up the dust and dirt from the carpet is shrouded in plastic, as are most children’s toys and most kitchen gadgets.
I was beginning to marvel at the miracle of petroleum products. They are found in toothpaste, shaving cream, lipstick, and even vitamin capsules. Even the modern glues are petroleum based, which makes them successful in gluing together so many different products.
Laminate countertops and flooring are petroleum based, as are the shingles on our home, and the pavement in our driveways and roads. The sewer and water pipes now being installed in town owe their longevity to plastics created from petrochemicals.
I went fishing on the weekend, and dug out my soft- and hard-bodied baits. My fishing rods are composite made up of carbon fibres and glue. The line is a monofilament (also a petro product) while the live well in my boat is lined with plastic.
The seats are a synthetic leather material for easier maintenance.
We have adopted all of these products because they make our lives better. The food packaging keeps products fresher. The floors and countertops are easier to maintain. The televisions, radios, I-pads, and DVD players provide great entertainment.
Even the synthetic fibres for furniture outlast many natural fibres—and are much less expensive to manufacture.
Yes, we can produce bio-petrochemical products from wood, corn, sugar, and many other grown crops. But our demand for carbon-based products will not diminish.
I realized I really couldn’t eliminate petroleum-based products from my life. And now I wonder, “How can I just use fewer?”

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