Oil Addiction Scorecard - 2: Sustainable Living & the Oil Spill

wqpantrybigIn our series of Sustainable Living & the Oil Spill we are investigating the who, what, where, when, and why of the Deepwater Horizon oil spill and what that means for each of us. The second part of the Oil Addiction scorecard focuses on something close to all of us, consumer products.

Oil Addiction Scorecard – Part 2

Consumer Products – Transportation was an easy link to fossil fuel dependence, but what about the items filling our shelves, storing our food, and holding our family heirlooms? Fossil fuels are the base ingredient for a shocking amount of consumer goods and are nearly impossible to eliminate. The good news is that by gradually phasing out fossil fuel-laden products, you can reduce our reliance upon fossil fuels, their toxic byproducts, and the waste stream they leave behind. We will take a brief look into four key areas of the fossil fuel – consumer good connection.

PackagingP-l-a-s-t-i-c. From Saran Wrap to toy trucks, plastic is everywhere. We know that it can be a source of carcinogens and most forms of plastic can severely damage the ecosystem, just look at the Pacific Garbage Patch. By selecting products with minimal packaging, and items that come in refillable containers or reusable bags, you can immediately reduce the packaging dilemma. Let’s face it, no one enjoys turning into He-man to open a pair of scissors or batteries, so let packaging, not direct marketing, help you make healthier societal choices.

Ingredients – In the Beauty Dos and Don’ts Series, we investigated common ingredients in beauty and body care products that were carcinogens or endocrine disruptors, which are also commonly found in cleaning products. The majority of these ingredients are synthetic alternatives to petroleum, or actual petroleum. Since our bodies are not designed to ingest, absorb, or process these chemicals they often lay dormant for a period of time before building up enough to cause serious health issues. Do yourself, your family, and your environment a favor by reading ingredient labels and removing any products with known harmful ingredients. To learn more about these products, please read Ethical Consumption’s Sustainable Living at Home series.

Sourcing – No parent wants to give their child a toy covered in lead paint. Laws, business practices, ecological protection, and worker’s rights can vary severely between Nations. Many products are shipped from country to country as part of the global supply chain, where they accumulate parts to make them whole. Similar to produce shipped across an ocean, many products are given additives that they do not need and we may not want, so that they have an extended shelf life or a cheap price tag. By investing in products that are made close to home, you can avoid participating in unjust supply chains. You can also reduce your product’s use of fossil fuels from artisan to you by investing in sustainable living-based supply chains.

Wants versus Needs – The first R, Reduce, is the most important. The skewed view of what we what equaling what we need has kept marketers and manufacturers afloat by making and promoting things that accumulate in landfills. As individuals, we have the opportunity to do a personal check-in and think about what we really need to survive and live versus what we want and what we feel society pressures us into wanting. Making lists and getting into the habit of putting things into your cart, and then doing a final wants vs. needs assessment before hitting the check-out counter can help a great deal. That and the art of do-it-yourself and upcycling, can help you know only reduce your ties to global supply chains and petroleum-based goods, but also inspire you.

For the month of June, try to make a reduction in each of these four areas to reduce our societal addiction to oil.

This is the second part of the Oil Addiction Scorecard, to view the additional scorecard segments, keep your eye on the Ethical Consumption News section for sustainable living tips.

Photo Credit: Pantry.