Since the pandemic and subsequent global shut-down seems to be heralding a new era in which our dependence on fossil fuels is not only cruel and unnecessary, but much more costly, it’s a wonderful time to take stock of where we’re overusing crude oil.
There are some huge things we’re accomplishing as a collective society – whether out of concern for climate change or fear of a virus.
For example, on average, two million fewer people are flying than they were at this time last year. Less travelers, less planes, less gas!
We know we’re driving less – anyone who can work from home is doing it. At the height of the pandemic, a little more than half of all office workers in America were working remotely.
And cruises, one of the most destructive uses of fossil fuels we’ve come up with, are floundering in an environment hostile to being trapped in close quarters with 3,000 strangers.
But to save the sinking ship, we all must row together.
That means looking at our own lives with a critical eye, being cognizant of wasteful habits, and considering new innovations to traditional ways of being. Renewable energy science is advancing at an impressive pace – researchers around the world are figuring out how to use water, solar, and wind power, geothermal energy, burned plant matter as fuel, and more.
What can we do in our regular, every day lives to reduce our use of fossil fuels, thereby voting with our dollar and showing energy companies that the public wants to pivot?
Here are just a few ideas…
Not everyone can afford solar panels. That’s certainly true.
However, plenty of states are offering tax incentives for installing solar panels, and their users are finding the energy harnessed from the sun to be less damaging to their bills and just as powerful and consistent as our current model of electricity.
Which, by the way, mostly runs on turbines powered by fossil fuels.
Whenever possible, shopping second-hand, buying products made with recyclable or recycled materials, and opting to ditch disposable goods helps enormously.
When we stop buying, demand changes, and so must supply.
The factories producing these items use so much energy generated by fossil fuels that if we all chose to, say, use tote bags at the grocery store instead of plastic bags, use recycled paper to write with, or bought a new coffee maker at the thrift store instead of new on Amazon, production of these products would naturally slow.
Avoid Air Fresheners
You may not have used air fresheners much when you were out of the house more often, but when everybody’s body is breathing the same recycled air and expelling their smells into the environment, you might have found yourself spraying air fresheners.
When in doubt, use essential oils in hydrosols or oil diffusers!
Traditional scent products are actually made from petrochemicals, and their enormous popularity has encouraged the growth of its industry.
Go water and essential oil-based whenever you can!
Use Battery Powered Mowers
The photographs of incredible lawn-scapes that have emerged since we were forced to stare at our lawns all day are proof we can make a significant change here.
Instead of powering your lawn mower with gasoline, get a battery powered one!
They use electricity to charge, yes, but they cause far less environmental damage than a gas-powered mower. Same goes for your weed whackers!
And consider using plant beds in your yard as well, to limit the amount of grass that actually has to be mowed.
Commit to Walking Anywhere Under a Mile
Americans have long known that we walk far less than Europeans.
In a survey tracking average steps walked, Americans ranked 30th out of some 116 countries involved. We walk around 4,700 steps per day. That’s about two miles.
If you live near a grocery store, or within walking distance from that place you were going to get carry-out from, or less than a mile from the park where you wanted to relax and read…
Toss the keys! Walk instead.
Consider Air Drying
Let’s face it – we don’t need as many clothes now as we did six months ago. A lot of people aren’t dressing their children in new outfits every day for school, we ourselves aren’t wearing new outfits every day for work, and we aren’t changing several times a day.
If at all possible, avoid using the tumble dryer and instead, hang your clothes out on a line!
It takes longer, yes, but… what’s the rush?
Where are we going, anyway?
Along with trying not to purchase plastic water bottles, which require fossil fuels in production and in break down, turning off appliances at night, wasting less water, and following the tips brought to us by ‘90s ad campaigns…
The corporate world may be forced to break up with fossil fuels simply because they’ll have lost the market for them.