Yesterday I wrote about the impact of a 1% reduction in crude oil consumption. Today I'd like to consider what that might require.
What kinds of changes to would I have to make to reduce my annual crude oil consumption by 1%?
1% Target: Reduce total consumption of crude oil by 10 gallons per year.
I drive my car about 9,000 miles each year. Since it makes no sense, financially or ecologically, to upgrade to a hybrid vehicle, my only responsible option is to drive fewer miles.
Suppose I reduced my mileage by 1%? That would be a whopping 90 miles per year! (I'm laughing, here.) Since my car gets about 20 miles to the gallon, I'd save about 4.5 gallons of gasoline.
It takes almost exactly 10 gallons of crude oil to make 4.5 gallons of gasoline.
So . . . I'm done. Goal accomplished, if I drive 90 miles less over the next year.
The National Association of Farmer's Markets Nutrition Program estimates that the ingredients in an average American dinner travel 1,500 miles from the farmer to my plate (about the straight line distance from Denver, CO to New York, NY). On the other hand, the ingredients for an average dinner purchased at at my local farmer's market travel approximately 65 miles to arrive on my plate.
Thus, if I eat one meal each year with ingredients solely from the local farmer's market, I will reduce my real consumption of crude oil by 1,435 miles. At 20 miles to the gallon of gasoline, that saves about 35 gallons of crude oil - nearly a barrel of oil saved in a single meal!
(Okay, the math behind this analysis is a bit goofy, but even if it's off by several orders of magnitude, the point remains the same: if everyone ate one local meal each year, the numbers would really add up.)
Although Susann and I long ago switched to cloth grocery bags, we still use plastic bags for our produce. We reuse a portion of these bags at home for cat litter and other purposes, but most end up in the recycling bin (Seattle is advanced in these things).
Still, it would be easy to reduce our plastic bag consumption by 5 bags per week, or 250 bags a year. Would that make a difference?
A gallon of crude oil produces about 20 plastic bags. Thus, if we reduced our consumption of bags by 250 per year, that would that would save 12.5 gallons of crude oil. Target met, solely through plastic bags.
As these few examples make clear, it's trivially easy to reduce consumption of crude oil by 1%. Really, it is trivial. And, as yesterday's post made clear, this trivial change would make an enormous difference.
It only requires a commitment and then some mindfulness as we go about daily life.
Can you do it? Can you conserve 1%?
I can. And I will.