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Fossil Fuel Rehab

03/29/2011
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The past couple days I’ve been talking about ways you can help society wean itself off its oil addiction–by using alternative energy sources and by growing your own vegetable garden. Today, I’ll discuss changes you can make to reduce your own fossil fuel consumption.

Make Me Sustainable is a website that calculates your carbon footprint and helps you track your efforts to reduce it. It’s a useful tool for making a somewhat abstract concept more concrete.

Conserve Energy

A lot of little changes can add up to making a big difference. A big part of becoming more environmentally friendly is forming habits. Get into the habit of turning off the lights when you leave a room, unplugging appliances, turning off your computer when not using it, waiting until you have a full load to use the washing machine, et cetera.

This isn’t just good for the environment–it’s also good for your bank account.

Buy Less, Buy Local

How silly will we feel about buying all those useless consumer items when there’s no longer enough fuel to transport our food to the grocery store? Remaining oil reserves are best used to transport the necessities of life, not for shit we don’t need.

Help resolve the energy crisis by making wise consumer choices. As well, buy things locally–from yard sales, flea markets and thrift stores–whenever possible.

Drive Less

If you walk or pedal to where you need to be, you aren’t just conserving fuel, you’re getting great exercise.

Other less (physically) taxing options include carpooling, using mass transit and moving closer to where you work.

Eat Less Meat

35 kcal of fossil fuel is typically needed to product 1 kcal of beef. The meat industry consumes enormous quantities of oil yearly.

That said, you don’t need to become a vegan. I suspect extremely vocal vegans do more to drive people away from eating less meat than they do to encourage it. If your goal is to reduce your environmental impact, simply eliminating meat from one meal a day, or one day a week, is significant. Some people cut out only red meat, which is the worst, health-wise.

Eating less meat will also increase your appreciation of it. It will acquire some novelty, and you’ll enjoy it more. If you do decide to adopt a vegetarian or vegan diet, be sure to do it slowly–cutting out one type of meat at a time. There are several guides online.

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