Many daily products require use of crude oil

Published 7:30 am Wednesday, September 15, 2010

Randy Tuchtenhagen, Solid Waste Officer

Ever wonder what you can do to reduce imported crude oil? Sound like an impossible task?

What products in our daily lives involve a manufacturing process that requires oil?

Randy Tuchtenhagen

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The answer is all things that are plastic such as automotive parts, clothing, food and beverage containers (Styrofoam and plastic eating utensils), gasoline, diesel fuel, construction materials, televisions and related video equipment, packaging, producing energy and the list goes on and on.

The use of crude oil affects all aspects of our living. Unfortunately we also live with inferior products and poor quality because oil and energy are cheap. At least here in the United States. It is not just cheap oil and energy that we need to be concerned about, but where it is coming from and how our country is able to obtain it.

There have been many articles written recently about the true price of a video game being $20 or the GPS unit in your car that cost less than a hundred dollars? The technology it took to create the things we desire (satellite system that supports electronics, shipping products across an ocean, using valuable mineral extraction of another country to produce a product) is costly when you consider the mining and cheap labor that produced the item. Our desire for cheap industrial products is often at the expense of the environment, water quality and poverty wages with no responsibility or requirement to improve or change the system.

Quality and longevity of products seemed to be a fleeting commodity and our children may not know differently. Our garbage landfills are filling up with poor quality junk (things made from crude oil) when discarded a few months after purchase.

If we recycle plastic (not all plastics are recyclable) it could be remade into some other product. Items with recycled content reduce manufacturing costs, the need to import oil, and is better for the environment than products from virgin plastic.

Want to reduce dependence on foreign oil? Refrain from purchasing plastic products that are of poor quality or a short life span. Reduce your dependence on plastic by washing your dishes instead of using Styrofoam and plastic, using your purchasing power for food and beverage containers that are not only recyclable but made of recycled content or have a non-petroleum base like glass and ceramics, purchase clothing made from natural products like cotton and wool (you may be supporting a local market here) and teaching children value.

Purchasing products in volume will reduce trips to the store and fewer containers to recycle. Reducing the demand for products made from crude reduces dependence. This may sound insignificant, but many battles were won by little advances. Working on small goals that can be easily implemented into our lives makes accomplishing the goal easier.

Randy Tuchtenhagen is the solid waste officer for Freeborn County.