Since the oil spill
in the Gulf began over two months ago, I’ve felt heartsick about the impact on wildlife,
the coasts and our precious waters. I use oil. It fills the car. It comprises
the raw material for the plastic bottles, containers and bags for groceries
that I buy. It makes up the fertilizers used to grow veggies and fruits too.
Oil is also an ingredient in detergents and household products. Though it may
have had some benefits, the oil intended for making more of these things is now
spilling out into our priceless ocean and destroying life and livelihoods.
I’ve wondered what
can I do to make a difference? How can I stop the flow? The answer is very
practical. While I can’t go plug up the well or take off work to clean up a
beach, I can cut down on consuming oil. If BP and other companies are pumping
it, it’s because I’m using oil and so are millions of others. I can’t change
the world, but I can change my habits.
Cutting down or
eliminating household products made from a petroleum base adds a piece to the
puzzle of how to move away from oil. Read the labels. Health foods stores and
some environmentally conscious companies offer green products that don’t depend
on the oil companies. Read the labels and find out which ones have a good
reputation for using environmentally sound standards as well.
Think your beauty
products are safe from the petro-chemical synthetics? Check the labels. Many
are packed with the derivatives of oil. So are many of the clothing items made from
synthetic fabrics like polyester, nylon and acetate. Food also suffer from the
same problem. The wax used to give cucumbers and apples a sheen comes from
petrochemicals. But there are alternatives.
farms, organic farms and food companies sometimes forego petroleum-based
fertilizers and pesticides. Check into the practices of your favorite companies
and don’t forget to bring your wicker basket or cloth bag. When I see the
recycling bins at the stores brimming with plastic bags, I’m inspired that
people are making efforts, but oil is still the basis. Using recycled paper or
a bring-your-own bag policy can make a difference. Some companies are beginning
to use corn and plant based “plastics” that are entirely recyclable. Encourage
them to keep it up.
Oil is symbolic of
energy. We’re moving from the use of energy that is polluting, toxic and
environmentally and economically deadly to a more clean, natural, light energy
including sun, water and wind. Keep your heart open to possible ways to
introduce this new energy as we phase out oil. And remember that the ocean is
made up of many drops of water. Every bit of your effort counts.
Bio: Debra Moffitt-Leslie
Debra Moffitt-Leslie’s book,"108 Spiritual
Practices for Challenging Times" will be published by Llewellyn Worldwide
in 2011. Read more at www.debramoffitt.com Her essays and articles appear
in publications around the world and focus on drawing attention to the
spiritual in a mostly material-minded world. She’s on the faculty for The
Sophia Institute and gives workshops in the U.S.