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, August 18, 2010


18 August 2010

miles biked- 12
water used- 5.95 gallons (9.05 surplus)

day 4 seed flat
This morning I woke up to find my seeds are already sprouting!  After only 4 days!  So far, I see basil, tomatillo, edamame and cucumber sprouts.  Throughout the day, the spouts were literally growing before my eyes!  There is hope.

basil babies!
On the topic of food, I am fairly certain I live in the PERFECT location to be doing this project. I live within yelling distance of two great food resources: three blocks from the Wedge Grocery Co-op and 1 block away from Eco-Politan  (raw foods).  I was able to meet with Marcos Lopez-Carlson at the Wedge before starting this project and he helped me outline what foods would be available and meet my criteria.  Marcos explained that I was lucky to be doing this project in August because almost everything which grows locally can be found in August at farmer's markets and at the Wedge.  I made a list today of what I saw at the Wedge, it became clear that I need to find out when the END of the growing season for many of these foods is, to avoid a total and unexpected dry out of food supply. 
cucumber baby!
baby tomotillos!

Here is what I found today that was local and organic:

_Bell Peppers
_Gypsy peppers
_Yellow squash
_Portabella Mush
_Maybe Syrup
_lots of greens
_really expensive blueberries

_lots of variety of bread flours
_sunflower seeds
_rye grain
_hulled spelt kernels
_hard wheat berries
_rolled rye

Basically the only bulk items which are local are grains and oats.  To be honest, I don't even know where to start with most of the grains. I guess I should start making bread. The company which supplies most of the grains is Whole Grain Milling.

While this company grows some of their products locally: Oats, Hi Lysine Corn, Buckwheat, Yellow and White Popcorn, Spelt and Soybeans, the rest arrives as raw ingredients which are processed locally and distributed.  Because the concern for most people who are motivated to buy local products is to support the local economy, the Wedge's definition of 'local' reflects that.  Any company which receives raw ingredients and processes them locally can be called 'local'.  This means that even companies like Peace Coffee are defined as local.  Peace Coffee is likely the most environmentally responsible choice for coffee's in the Twin CIties because they receive green beans and do all the processing and packaging locally, meaning the product does not have to be shipped around the country to various processing and packaging plants. However, in the context of my project (in which local means minimizing transportation as much as possible) the definition doesn't necessarily apply.  This means that I need to look into each company and find out where they are sourcing their product from.  Fortunately, this is made really easy with the Wedge's website, it is amazing and totally great how transparent they have made the information about where food comes from.  

My compost bin is molding, I'm going to guess this is a normal thing to be happening?  Because the food is rotting to turn into compost?  I shake the container up everyday and add some newspaper shreds, any advice on this?

Still working out my electricity budget, mostly because I got an answer that I can't accept haha.  I spoke with Jamie Borell at Innovative Power System's in St.Paul and based on my 1790 sq ft roof he had the following advice:

"Ballpark, cocktail napkin-drawn numbers:

You can fit 6kW on the roof or (30) 200-watt solar modules, producing 600kWh/ month or 7,200kWh/ year. This solar electricity offsets 900 pounds of CO2 per month or 10,800 pounds of CO2/ year and is the equivalent of planting 720 trees"

If I'm doing the math right, it sounds like 20 kWh a day total, divided by 6 residents is 3.33 kWh/day as an energy budget.

To give you an idea of what the breakdown of electrical use I have recorded so far is:

Daily these items use:
Grow Light - 175 watts/hr (8 hours a day) = 1400 watts or 1.4 kWh
Refrigerator - 68 watts/hr (24 hours a day) = 1634.4 watts or 1.634 kWh
Computer - 27 watts/hr (8 hours a day) = 216 watts or .216 kWh

As you can see, I already log a total of 3.25 kWh/day using only the essential things.  I haven't turned on a light in four days (except for the occasional forgetful light switching) and haven't been using my stereo or TV.  I have yet to calculate the energy used from my electric stove (which is a lot), and heating is obviously not accounted for yet. uh oh.

me in the dark :/
I haven't quite adapted to the darkness thing yet, and I have to admit that I have been using my headlamp to find things.  I wonder how hard it would be to make an solar powered LED headlamp.... Candles are difficult and annoying to carry around.  I can waste A LOT of time trying to do things without ample lighting.  Luckily, when using my computer I don't need any extra light, so my schedule has shifted somewhat to doing all the tasks I need light for during the day and working more on my computer at night.  A friend had a suggestion that I change my schedule to wake up earlier when the sun comes up to maximize the amount of daylight I have.  I am surprised every morning how much easier it is to do everything with LIGHT.  Note to self: do the dishes before it gets dark.  Oh my gosh, the things we don't appreciate.  I am looking around for any place locally that sells soy wax (suggestions?)  I can't make regular candles (paraffin wax) because paraffin is a by-product of crude oil.  Soy wax candles are supposed to burn cleaner (clearly) and last longer, we shall see...


  1. Compost really shouldn't mold--could be to wet and/or not getting enough air. It could also be too green, if you are adding mostly (only) vegetable matter. Sawdust from untreated wood or something like shredded cedar scrap is good to add a little variety--its also easy to keep on hand.

  2. st. paul farmers market sometimes has different types of candles/soaps made locally from soy, etc. also, the last time i went i found some (expensive!) wild rice - local grain :)

  3. disconnect the external monitor to save some electricity!

    I believe mine uses 17 watts/hour x 8 hours = 136 watts

  4. Can you find a solar charger for your computer?

    Agree you need more dry brown matter in thecompodt bin.

    Re lighting there is a micrenterprise prject in Africa that sells battery powered LEDs. The batteries are recharge via bicycle.

  5. Are you budgeting the whole cost of the refrigerstor? You would likely use a smaller one in the future.