Oil addiction scorecard #4: Sustainable living in what we buy

With each passing day the BP oil spill seems to be getting only worse in a myriad of ways; sustainable living has taken a mighty blow in the fallout and we can look to the Deepwater Horizon disaster as a beacon alerting the need for change. Continuing the sustainable living series centered around the United States’ apparent addiction on oil where we drew a similarity between the twelve steps of AA to get us on the road to recovery, analyzing consumer packaging, getting critical about transportation habits, and then identifying oil usage at home; here we take a look at the global supply chain.

As a general sustainable living rule of thumb one can venture to say that the further away what you are purchasing is produced the more oil used and carbon has been released for it to get to your shopping cart. For this reason opting for the most local produce and supporting burgeoning markets in your community is better than the same grown hundreds of miles away. Transportation, just as it pertains to immediate daily routines, is one of the largest components of why meat is not the most eco-friendly choice. Outside of health reasons, more and more communities are taking steps to grow their own produce in co-op fashions or on school grounds and parks; what this brings to the residences are not only nutritious and affordable produce but it also cuts out plenty of potential carbon emission in the process.

Still, not everything can be grown or made at home and that is why a part of sustainable living is being informed as to what companies are actually doing themselves in not only their production processes and shipping traits but also their packaging and if they partake in purchasing carbon offsets. It is crucial to do what is possible to cut down on oil consumption and waste at the forefront but in taking that thinking a step further by purchasing carbon offsets for what are released, businesses can in turn be greener. Individuals can also take the initiative and purchase offsets when they plan to take a vacation for example and displace what was released in the plane flight.

The pressing consumer demand for more sustainable living business ethics is paramount to keep the momentum going in the right direction. Those companies that have already started need to pioneer forward and others that have yet to jump on board may need a little push to get in gear. That is where the individual holds direct power and by first choosing local and then opting for green you can sway the tides. The Deepwater Horizon oil spill has shown us just how an addiction to oil can blind us in what are responsible and ethical decisions in regards to energy outlets; how we get our supplies and goods is one component of oil consumption that needs addressing.

Photo credit: Gabriel Kamener