Friday, May 21, 2010

Oil Spill in the Gulf of Mexico Can There Be a Silver Lining?

I have been avoiding writing this week as the controversy over the Gulf of Mexico oil spill has reached breakneck speed. As most of you know I try to keep things on the positive over here at GLR but I feel it is my duty as an environmental semi-activist to finally throw my own change into the hat and use my forum to voice an opinion that has been gnawing at me for weeks.

There are major players in this disaster -- BP, Transocean, the United States government, Halliburton -- but in my opinion the real blame lies on all of us.

This is not to say that BP should not be 100% responsible for the best possible efforts at cleaning up this current mess, both financially and physically, they should be held accountable as it was their operations that sank the rig and caused the breach in the first place. What I mean is that we as a humanity allow ourselves to rely on oil for just about everything and while this spill is a tragedy of massive proportions, perhaps it will make all of us take a step back and reexamine the way we live our lives.

Since the figures became fuzzy over how many gallons were actually spilling out each day, not to mention the moment the first tar ball was reported to have touched land, I seriously started to evaluate my own habits.

The real honest truth of the matter is that just like most of the world I have been trained to rely on petroleum based products as part of my daily life.

I eat a yogurt every morning for breakfast. It comes in a plastic container.
I shower every day. Most of the products I use to cleanse myself come in plastic containers.
I get in my car and drive to work. Though the Corolla gets good gas mileage, it still uses gas.
I workout 3-5 times a week. On a treadmill, physio ball and with a jump rope created from plastic pieces.
I go to bed and set an alarm for the morning. On a clock made from plastic.

I type this blog post on plastic keys. At a plastic computer.

But…As much as it should depress me to realize that I live a double life of sorts, I can not let it bring me down. That is the very reason I have been hesitant to post anything about this man made disaster since it happened. I have had to try to find the thing that turns it all around. The thing that I can focus on that doesn’t make me feel like a hypocrite.

So this is my call to all of us as readers. Because there is really no way to clean up an oil spill I challenge and strongly urge all of us to stop and take stock of every single thing we do, evaluate the way we live our lives and take a stand to reduce our own personal petroleum consumption.

Can we bike to work one day instead of drive? Telecommute? Take public transportation? Buy the largest size yogurt instead of individually sized packages? Reduce our time online? Grow our own veggies (or buy local/organic) instead of buying trucked in brands? Walk outside instead of joining the gym? Buy previously loved items instead of new? Join Freecycle and other similar groups and participate in free trades? Read a book instead of watching television? Sign petitions asking your local government to take active steps toward reducing their own consumption? Join groups that actively participate in environmentally sound practices? Share links to stories with others who need to be educated? Repost this blog post?

I pledge to do as much of this as I can. I will certainly be spending less time online, walking to my local library for a book or two every week, enjoying nature instead of television and drastically reducing the time I spend in my car even though I work from home most of the time. I plan to grocery shop better and smarter and start frequenting my local Farmer’s Market the moment it opens. I will talk about this disaster as an informed individual because I will read the paper, the updated resources online and the links shared by friends. I will take active steps to change my habits and my life and subsequently the lives of millions of others in the process.

What do you pledge to do to reduce your dependency on petroleum based products so we can further eliminate the chances of another BP Gulf disaster in the future?

Photo courtesy of NASA.


spottedwolf said...

the inevitability of a dying system is the waste it leaves behind. It has been but one generation back from mine Jenn (and a generation should cover 30 you can guage where you fit in when I say many of my generation lived and still live among those ideals) that believe this world an inexhaustible supply/storehouse because they were raised in a system which has underlying traditional biblical ideas which have been applied to all life globally when they were meant only for a certain area and time. There is no positive spin you hope for Jenn. For the bulk of humanity is not about to give up its comforts to the reality it is desecrating the very source it draws sustenance from. We are not taught an earth-based belief in our time. We are taught that mankind must improve what nature gave us because nature is fearful and we must survive at all cost....all cost.....all cost.

Almost Precious said...

Wow, just read spottedwolf's comment and totally forgot what I was about to say.
Unfortunately there is much truth in what he writes, mankind's goal is for self gratification and wealth with a mentality that the planet can wait until tomorrow...or the next generation. Everything comes in plastic today as it is expendable, it's lighter to ship and doesn't break as easily in transport (you know, those moments when the gorilla drops the case of mayonnaise jars and then proceeds to stomp on it). So the bottom line in using plastics is the green-back-dollar and not the act of being Green.
Glass may be heavier and more prone to breakage but it is also very recyclable. Glass has been in use for bottles and jars for a very long time and things packaged in glass containers seem to last a lot longer than those in plastic because glass is completely non porous.
Also here we are in this supposedly "Green Revolution" and there is more garbage and litter on our streets than ever before. Why is that?