09 June 2010

Boycott Oil!

Green America sent me a newsletter recently (electronic, I should note) with various suggestions about what we can do about the Gulf oil spill. The most important item in the list: Boycott oil. Not just BP (most of the other big oil producers are just as dirty), but oil altogether.

The folks at Green American are organizing a climate ride in northern California in September. A great idea to raise awareness for the cause, but it's "fully supported" which means riders will be followed by vehicles carrying their stuff. And what can I say? I hope not too many cyclists will be driving or, worse, flying to northern California to join in the ride.

Instead, stay home and boycott oil. Not just the oil that goes into your car, but all the oil that goes into all the products in your home. Did you know that conventional dish and laundry soaps are made of petroleum? Switch to Seventh Generation or a similar non-toxic product.

Re-use containers for lunch rather than buying take-out and throwing away all the attendant garbage, day after day. But are your lunch containers made of plastic? Doesn't make any sense to toss them if you already have them, but when they wear out, buy stainless steel containers instead. The big groceries in Chinatown carry inexpensive versions, the camping stores, higher-end ones.

Big decisions can change your life. If it's feasible, think about getting rid of a car. But little decisions, made over and over again, day in and day out, also add up to big change.

Every time you're about to make a purchase, think. Can you live without that item? If not, is there a way to obtain it with less impact?

Me? I'm going to take the train to work this summer instead of driving the car. By car, it's a three-hour round trip; by train, six. But I get in a bike ride at both ends of the train journey, and I don't have to drive. In the summer, I only go to the office once a week; the rest of the time, I work at home or hole up in a library.

If I can make it a habit in the summer, though, maybe I can get it to carry over into the regular semester.