Oil on Our Hands?
Vent your frustration at Big Oil by eliminating dozens of petroleum-based products like plastic bottles and finding substitutes for plastic shopping bags, shower curtains, kids toys, and more. By going hard core you can help save millions of gallons of oil a year ....
Concerned about our country's continued dependence on foreign oil? We can "vote with our feet" to immediately reduce our own impact on the nation's growing petroleum needs.
And in more ways than most people suspect.
In fact, you can show your concern for the environment and help shake up the foreign and domestic oil industry - RIGHT NOW - by opting for alternatives to the huge number of
petroleum-based products we use everyday besides those in our homes and cars.
Common petroleum-based products include plastic bags, plastic bottles, plastic shower curtains, inks, oil paints, shoe polish, cosmetics, hair dyes, candles, petroleum jelly, insecticides, tires, synthetic rubber, crayons, chewing gum, dish soap, hand lotion, toothpaste, floor wax, shaving cream, dolls and toys.
And that's just scratching the surface in a huge list of other petroleum-based products available today in stores nationwide.
Surprised? You shouldn't be if you read labels, or learn about how mass-produced items made from synthetics and other petroleum-based ingredientsfind their way into your home. Fortunately, for some of the worst offenders there are alternative products readily available.
Alternatives to petroleum-based products
Plastic bottles - We've all heard about how plastic bottles fill up landfills and pollute the environment.
Then there are the safety concerns over BPA, a component of petroleum-based polycarbonate plastic.
Add to that the fact that making plastic water bottles to meet annual US demand takes enough oil to fuel a million cars for 12 months.
Alternative: Invest in a stainless steel water bottle to refill from the home tap rather than purchase expensive 'designer' bottled water in disposable plastic bottles. Depending on your drinking habits, buying refillable bottles can also have a marked impact on the nation's petroleum usage.
Plastic bags - With billions of plastic bags produced in the US everyday, remember that it takes only 14 plastic shopping bags to use enough petroleum energy to drive a car for 1 mile.Alternative: shopping with reusable canvas grocery bags is a simple but effective way to cut down on your personal oil consumption, even if you already limit your carbon footprint in other ways.
Plastic shower curtains - Everyone is familiar with that toxic, new shower curtain smell. Besides being made from
petroleum-based plastic, this PVC product is chock-full of poisonous chemicals that disperse into the air for several
weeks while the curtain hangs in your bathroom. Alternative: look for nontoxic PVC-free PEVA shower curtains which are now
widely available and offering a far healthier choice over traditional shower curtains.
Candles - According to the National Candle Association, 70% of US households purchase and burn candles made from petroleum-based paraffin wax. Alternative: 100% beeswax or soy based candles not only decrease our dependency on petroleum but improves indoor air quality as well.
Petroleum jelly - A by-product of the oil refining process, the greasy gunk was discovered in 1859 by oil workers who found it
kept clogging up their drills. It was later discovered to have some healing properties when applied to minor cuts or burns. Today, petroleum jelly is used in everything from lip balms to diaper rash cures. Alternatives: olive oil, lanolin - or
another alternative now popular with new moms, "un-petroleum jelly".
Crayons - Traditional crayons like those made by Crayola are made from petroleum-based paraffin and pigment dyes. Alternatives: natural beeswax or soybean oil crayons are made by companies which also substitute pigment dyes with more natural mineral dyes.
Shoe polish - Shoe polishes often contain neurotoxic petroleum products that can be absorbed through skin or inhaled. Also often present are carcinogenic dyes. Alternatives: mineral oil
or olive oil (and a soft polishing cloth), or plant-based shoe polishes made from plant terpenes.
Makeup - Cosmetic companies make everything from lipstick to foundation makeup using petroleum-based ingredients. They have also recently come under fire for their added use of synthetic materials and other "fillers" that can clog pores or cause skin irritation. Alternative: mineral-based makeup is fast gaining popularity among women who want a softer, more natural look.
Dish soaps - Yes, dish soaps. Most major brands of dish washing detergents are petroleum-based. Alternative: look for plant-based detergents instead.
Keep in mind that if you choose non-petroleum products you'll sometimes encounter a higher price tag. So it pays to shop around - especially while surfing the Web - at online stores offering cheaper prices on non-petroleum soaps, cleansers, cosmetics and household products.
Hopefully, as non-petroleum-based products come into their own, their popularity will effectively drive prices down on these cleaner and often safer alternatives.
Kicking our addiction to oil
For months or years to come, news and pictures from environmental disasters such as the Gulf coast oil spill may continue to encourage more of us to take action.
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