This era in history may be remembered as the "Peak Age", a brief time when nearly all materials used to power and create our society reach the maximum extraction and production potential. Past this point, all of these resources become increasingly difficult to extract until they are no longer economically viable resources to be using. There are hundreds of examples of resources, currently embedded in our industrial society, which have reached their peak in the 50 years surrounding 2010, but the one which will most impact our society is petroleum.

The goal of living for 100 days without oil is to understand the extent of our dependance on oil in American society today. Specifically, how it will affect my life, as a 25 year-oil living in Minneapolis, MN. By using myself as a metric I can take a close and conscious look at where oil dependance occurs in all aspects of our daily lives : How we transport ourselves from one place to another, what we eat, how much waste we create, how water is cleaned and transported, where oil is used as; an energy resource, in conventional medicine and for hygiene and how oil affects how we entertain ourselves and communicate with others. By demonstrating how someone would be forced to live without using any oil resources, outlining both what the sacrifices will be as well as the benefits, we can can identify the many systems which will have to be re-designed in a world without cheap oil, and explore a new way of living in which we live in an energy balance.

(At the bottom of this page is a link to my version of a flow diagram of 'Where Petroleum Exists in Our Daily Lives' (using information from the Energy Information Administration-Annual Energy Review 2008 fig 5.0 Petroleum flow) click and zoom to enlarge)

Wednesday, October 27, 2010


24 October 2010

My collection of containers has been slowly but steady growing throughout this project.  Every couple weeks I seem to find a few items that come in bulk or reusable containers that I wasn't aware of before.  Many items we typically buy in a grocery store come in glass containers, but before this project I never though twice about recycling containers when their contents were empty, they simply didn't mean anything to me anymore.  The fact is, whatever we are buying we are PAYING for that container as well as the contents inside it.   I have begun to feel much more connected to the containers I am buying because I have actually purchased them in the form of; mason jars, growlers or milk containers.

I have some old jars that belonged to my great grandmother which she reused over and over to store foods that she made or bought.  They are decorations, as they may be in other people's homes as well.  They are just jars like the ones I buy, but because they are old they have a value that I don't associate with my new jars.  By actually placing value on the containers, whether nostalgic or monetary- I am much more aware of the waste I am avoiding creating.

In the case of the mason jars which are less than $1 each, I may not be paying much more for the container buying it separately and getting bulk foods than I would be buying an item in a glass jar similar to it.  In fact, because I only have to buy the container ONCE, the cost really pays for itself quite quickly.  The milk jugs and growlers are a bit different.  Each time I return a milk jug or growler I am refunded a deposit for the empty container and make a new deposit on the new container.  The deposit for my milk jug is $1.50 and the growler is $4.   In this way, I am really not paying for the container, but simply renting it.  By placing only a small monetary value on containers they suddenly become much more precious. 

In our house, if a few of us end up buying the same milk we make sure to keep the number of milk jars that belong to each person straight . In the same way, the growlers of beer are taken home by the people who brought them after a party.  A friend bought a jug of milk for me the other day in one such container.   After he dropped it off and left I realized that he had not only bought my milk but also paid the deposit on a container that I now had.  I felt kind of guilty.  When was the last time you left a jar of pickles at someone's house and they made sure you got the glass container when they were done with them?  It wierd, buts it kind of nice.  Placing value on more of the things we own I believe makes us increasingly aware of the value of every item.  There is quite a bit of energy that went in to making all that packaging, the price reflects it, but we typically throw away this packaging without a thought.  In a way, this also makes people more aware and responsible for the waste they create.  Even $1.50 on a milk jug is enough to want to bring it back to the grocery store each time and trade it in instead of simply recycling it. 

Below are some images of the reusable containers I have collected and the waste that is avoided by using them:

4 bottled beers saved by a reusable growler from a local brewery

milk cartons (not recyclable) saved by a glass milk jar

egg cartons to buy 'by-the-egg' at the co op

various sized reuable jars replace baking packaging waste

elimination of uncessary and excessive packing of individual tea packets (bulk with tea infuser)

1 comment:

  1. Molly, you might be interested in submitting this project to which features 365 day making projects. I'd say your 365 project qualifies on the grounds as your are attempting to make less 365.
    Best, Alec