Most of the energy consumption in the United States comes from fossil fuels. Natural gas, petroleum, and coal have accounted for 81.5 percent of the nation’s energy consumption for over 100 years, according to the U.S. Energy Information Administration. However, burning fossil fuels has been attributed to atmospheric pollution, global warming, the release of toxins into the environment, and health problems. Only by reducing dependency on these can such issues be mitigated. Fortunately, there are many ways to reduce the reliance on fossil fuels – here are 20 of them you can do actively.
Decrease energy consumption by using more efficient fluorescent light bulbs, which last a long time. The U.S. Department of Energy says these use 25 to 35 percent less energy than traditional incandescent bulbs and can work for about 10 times as long. Compact fluorescent lamps (CFLs) are popular for household fixtures, and fluorescent tube and circline lamps are ideal for commercial settings and garages.
Turn off the lights when out of a room for more than 15 minutes, whether using CFLs, halogen, or incandescent lighting. The power saved reduces demand on electric utilities, which in turn require less output from power plants that burn fossil fuels.
Turn off the television, computer, or any other electrical device when it’s not in use; this is a good way to conserve energy and help these investments last longer, so you don’t have to buy new ones as soon.
Use appliances with the ENERGY STAR label, which is only placed on products that meet high-efficiency standards. To inform consumers, the label usually displays a calculation of annual savings as a percentage or monetary value. It can be found on air conditioners, heaters, refrigerators, and just about any home appliance.
Reuse products that require fossil fuel resources to produce. By avoiding paper or plastic shopping bags, you can reduce the demand on the production process, which is fossil fuel intensive. Instead, use fabric bags for groceries. The amount of plastic and Styrofoam used can be limited by purchasing glass plates and cups, which can be reused over and over again instead of throwing them out every time, using new ones, and having to purchase more in bulk.
Purchase goods manufactured with recycled materials. This helps to reduce the demand for fossil fuels as well. Check for product labels that indicate such materials are included. Reusing anything that can be, such as printer ink cartridges, helps too.
Recycle. By recycling waste, less of it goes to landfills. Many cities have recycling programs and require residents to put plastics, paper, and aluminum into separate trash bins. You can also donate clothing, lights, and appliances you don’t plan to use anymore, instead of throwing them out, so they continue to serve a purpose rather than investing in additional manufactured products. According to GreenAmerica.org, just over 34 percent of U.S. waste is recycled or composted, but the EPA estimates 75 percent of all waste can be recycled.
Avoid using printing inks that are petroleum-based. Soy ink, derived from soybeans, is an eco-friendlier choice and can be found in printer cartridges. Newspapers and other printed publications use it as well, some since the late 1980s.
Fossil fuels are a major part of the oil refining process, which is how gasoline is made. Instead of driving, consider taking public transportation, which reduces how many cars are on the road and contributing emissions. You could also carpool, ride a bicycle, or walk.
Telecommuting eliminates the need to travel altogether, avoiding the use of fossil fuels and the costs of fuel and travel. All you need is a computer, Internet connection, and smart phone.
Avoid using nylon, which is petroleum-based. It can be found in luggage, life vests, and umbrellas. Even nylon clothing or clothing made of polyester is fossil fuel reliant, but clothes made of natural fibers are a more economically and environmentally friendly choice.
Plastics are costly on the environment to produce and dispose of and do not decompose. Bottled water products consume a lot of plastic, so reusable containers filled with filtered tap water are better instead. Biodegradable plastics will break down over time and are a somewhat better option if you would rather stick to plastic.
For a headache, drink more water as the cause is often dehydration and the fact that over-the-counter products such as Aspirin are made with oil products.
Waxing the floors will keep them looking shiny and new, but commercial waxes are often made from petroleum derivatives. Beeswax is a natural alternative and can do the job just as well.
Natural essential oils are popular, and not only for their attractive and pleasant scents. Traditional scent products and even perfumes are often made with petrochemicals, in turn feeding the demand for fossil fuels and increasing their effects on the environment.
Wood decks may increase the demand for tree-based products, but plastic materials like those made to resemble wood are made from oil. Using natural wood helps ease the dependence on fossil fuels.
Soft contact lens wearers often don’t know their products are made using petroleum products. Although eyeglass frames require some oil to make, they typically last much longer and can be donated once no longer suitable for the wearer.
Instead of replacing your roof with tar, which is a byproduct of coal production, use metal or clay tiles that are not so heavily fossil fuel dependent.
Power your home with solar energy, so it’s not necessary to buy it from coal plants. Plus, energy from the sun and the electricity solar systems produce, are free.
More environmentally friendly gardening practices can reduce demand on fossil fuels as well. These include using pushable mowers and planting gardens that limit the amount of space that must be cut. Reducing your reliance on fossil fuels can lead to more attractive landscaping on your property, not to mention be better for the environment, your wallet, and health.