May 26, 2010

A Day in the Life

I drive a reasonably fuel-efficient car, and I plan my errands so that I don't have to do any extra driving. I can usually go 2 weeks on a tank of gas...sometimes more. I keep my thermostat set low in the winter and high in the summer. I drink tap water most of the time instead of bottled water. When I hear how much oil Americans consume, I know I'm not responsible for the problem.

This morning I turned over in bed to turn off the alarm clock and then reached up to turn on the bedside lamp and noticed the shade needed to be vacuumed. I adjusted my pillow and picked up the remote to catch some early morning news on TV. I drank a few sips of water from the reusable plastic bottle on my bedside table and then put some Chapstick on my lips. I put a second coat of nail polish on my toes since I didn't have time for more than one coat last night.

After a while I got up and turned off the fan by my bed as I slipped into a pair of flip flops to go downstairs and fix breakfast. I dropped a CD into the player and listened to a little music as I pulled the cat food out of the refrigerator, removing the plastic cover.  Then I reached back in for a half-gallon container of 1% milk for my cereal. I took out another container of chocolate milk to drink with my vitamins, which I keep in a days-of-the-week pillbox. I turned the wand to open the window blinds as I put my dishes in the sink and ran a sponge and dishwashing liquid over them.

I took a bag of trash out and while I was outside, I looked up at my chimney which was repaired over the weekend. I was pleased to see that it was painted yesterday. As I looked at the roof, I marveled again that the recent tornado in my area did not damage any of the shingles. I went back in the house, grateful for the air conditioning because it's already hot, even early in the morning.

Then I went upstairs to clean the litter box and take a shower. I pulled the shower liner back and got in, moving a bottle of shampoo to reach my razor. I ran conditioner through my hair and remembered that I need to pick up some hair color to touch up my roots, not that I dye my hair or anything.

I dried off and applied some deodorant. Then I put on my robe and ran a comb through my hair, and grabbed my toothbrush and toothpaste to brush my teeth. Then I put some anti-frizz gel in my hair and turned the hair dryer on. Once my hair was dry, I put rollers in and started to put my makeup on. Once that was done, I put on my clothes and a pair of leather sandals with comfy soles. I took my hair down and brushed it before taking the cap off of the hairspray and applying the finishing touches to my hair. I put my earrings on before putting some lotion on my hands.

I pulled my cell phone off the charger and threw it in my purse. I put my glasses on and pulled back the draperies to raise the shades in my bedroom and then went back down to the kitchen. I pulled some containers of leftovers out of the refrigerator and transferred them to smaller containers to put in my reusable lunch bag before heading out the door. I briefly considered grabbing the umbrella by the front door, but decided with only a 30% chance of rain I probably wouldn't need it.

As I walked out to the car, I clicked the remote to unlock it. I set my purse down next to the console and made a mental note of the time on the clock on the dashboard as I pulled out, wondering when the resurfacing of my parking lot will begin. I switched to my sunglasses as I pulled out onto the street. As I drove past the corner convenience store, I saw that the numbers on the sign indicated that the price of gasoline had dropped another couple of cents. I pulled up to the ATM at the bank and pulled out my debit card to get some cash.

At the last traffic light before my office, I pulled a tube of lipstick out of my purse for a touch-up. I parallel parked in the parking lot, and when I got out of the car, I noticed one of the tires was a little bit on the (ridiculously low) curb, but decided to let it go. I walked to my office where I picked up a note that was in my chair as I sat down in front of my keyboard to begin my day. I saw the flash drive that I keep meaning to take home still sitting in my computer.

It was just after 9:00 a.m. and I had already used well over 50 products that are connected to petroleum. And it's not just the few dozen things I used this morning. There are thousands of products made from petroleum.

We need to start looking for new sources of energy to meet our transportation needs, but there's also room for innovation in lots of other areas. I realize there are green options for some of these items, but not for all of them. It's easier to avoid using items imported from China (no small task itself) than it is to avoid using items made from petroleum. Even things that are not petroleum-based are made in factories using machines that require energy to work, and those machines may also contain parts that come from the petroleum industry. That means my cotton towels and leather purse might have an oil connection, too.

You see, it's not as simple as conservation, or stopping off-shore drilling. We need to encourage creativity along with conservation to meet the needs of the future. Seriously, the time that we're going to have to deal with this, might not be that far off.

I'm blind as a bat, which makes me partial to lightweight eyeglasses. We need to start figuring out what we'll replace those plastic lenses with so people like me don't have a constant headache from wearing heavy glasses. (Contact lenses are also derived from petroleum.) Artificial limbs need to be lightweight to be are we going to replace them? And what about disposable diapers? I know some parents who are green in every other way, but can't stomach the old fashioned diaper route, even with a diaper service.

And there are thousands of other products that are going to require some ingenuity.

With the spill in the Gulf of Mexico, it's easy to place all the blame on the oil companies, but they're only doing what all companies do. They're in the business of selling a product to consumers, and we consume far more of what they sell than most of us have ever considered. It's not all about transportation. Not by a longshot.

According to a government website, "about 72% of the 7.14 billion barrels of petroleum that we used in 2008 were gasoline, diesel fuel, and jet fuel." That leaves nearly 30% of oil going into other products that we all use every day.

The problem isn't just about Big Oil and greed. We have all contributed to the mess in the Gulf.

All. of. us.

There is no one righteous, not even one. ~ Romans 3:10


  1. guilty, guilty, and guilty here! what a brilliant
    and creative piece you've written!

  2. You have many great points.

  3. It's mind-blogging to think how many products I use every day that didn't exist until long after my grandparents were grown.

  4. My head hurts. I read things like this and it overwhelmes me. I try to do my best to minimize my footprint on the earth ... but it is very hard to do as well as you wish you could.

    Very thought-provoking post.

  5. wow. I didn't realize all the things that were made from petroleum. Guilty as charged We all need to change. Well written post.

  6. You might be intrested in reading Beth Terry's blog over at

    She is just an average person working to reduce the amount of plastic she uses. She has great suggestions for alternatives and post about big and small things.

  7. Wow. I had no idea. I feel really guilty now!

    great post, very clever :)

  8. Amazing, isn't it? Katy, thanks for the link to Beth's blog. It does have a lot of great information!

  9. Guilty and plan to keep on being... ;>

  10. I hear you, Vee. I don't want to give up any of that stuff either. Hopefully whatever comes next will be better!

  11. Excellent observations - and they are humbling! You are definitely on target!!!! Now for all of us to take a deep breath and suck it in with change in mind!

  12. It's going to be a heck of a transition if we don't take the time needed to prepare for it.

  13. Thanks for this post--I just posted a response on another website about the need to reduce our reliance on fossil fuels and got a sarcastic response from the editor....

  14. Renata - Aside from the limited resource angle, I truly believe this is a national security issue. We need to be dealing with this the same way we have attacked every other problem - putting our best minds to work on it. I wish people understood that sarcasm isn't going to get us anywhere!