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)

Friday, September 3, 2010


1 September 2010

I'm realizing more and more that this project could have been done in phases.  It is really difficult to integrate a totally different way of living in all different aspects at once.  The result of trying EVERYTHING at once is that you focus on necessities.  Food has been my main focus I feel like up to this point, and finally, now that I am on week 3 of the project I feel like I've finally figured out how to eat a healthy diet from local foods (definitely more to learn, but at least I can feed myself :) ).

I've gotten back to figuring out my water situation more again.  One of the big challenges of getting all your water out of a rain barrel is it isn't running water.  This makes it harder to rinse things because there isn't the force of water coming down.  However, I got through a lot less water rinsing because I fill up a container with only the water I need.  A lot of my water habits lately are tried and true camping methods of: dong dishes and washing hands.  I use 1 gallon of water doing dishes usually.  I fill up one tub with 1/2 gallon of rinse water and another tub 1/2 gallon full of dish water.  By putting soap in the tub before I dump water in, the suds come from the force of the water getting dumped.  Dish soap is WAY more concentrated than I originally realized.  By only using a little dish soap and stirring up the water enough i can get a sudsy tub full of soap. 

With the permission of my roommates, I'm taking the "if its yellow let it mellow, if its brown flush it down" approach.  More people do this than I realized after talking with people about it.  Really though, we are peeing in drinking water, that's pretty obscene, so whatever can be done to save water in this case is important.  Another method I learned with my dad when I was about 6 from the book 100 Ways to Save the Planet, (haha my parents weren't trying to brainwash me AT ALL) was putting a milk container in the toilet container to displace water and use less with each flush.  The average toilet uses 1.6 gallons of water per flush.  I flush mostly twice a day so that is 3.2 gallons used on just flushing everyday.  Abby had a 1/2 gallon jug from apple cider and put it in the toilet container.  Instant low flow toilet!  I will now only use 1.1 gallons of water with each flush, we could put a larger jug (1 gallon) in there once we find one. 

Rinsing potatoes the other day I realized I could reuse the rinse water a few times.  I put my potatoes in a strainer over a tub and poured my rinse water over, then dumped it back into the bucket and poured again.  What I ended up with was a mixture of dirt and nutrients that washed off the potatoes which I thought maybe the plants would like, so they got potato water yesterday.  This way the water was really used 3 times and never wasted. 

While meeting my water budget has never been a problem in this project so far, the more efficiently I can use water the more liberally I can use it on other things (maybe a 2 gallon bucket shower every morning?)  Talking with Rich Strong at CSBR the other day brought up a good point that a goal of the project should be to demonstrate a quality of life that is equal to what we have now.  While everyone has a different interpretation of what "quality of life" means, by finding ways for people to use water without constantly worrying about its scarcity seems like a reasonable goal to me.  My water use has increased over the last 3 weeks.  The first week I was being really conservative about water and not necessarily using it very efficiently.  I had a day I only used 5 gallons of water.  By week 2 I was using a more comfortable amount of water and now on week three I'm beginning to find ways to use water 2-3 times and get more out of the water I'm using (allowing me to use even more water) but stay in my budget of about 12 gallons a day (leaving the other 3 gallons of water of surplus each day for cleaning on the weekend.)

(click image to enlarge)


  1. I am 25, a U of M student, and use to live in your neighborhood (now Powderhorn Park). I saw your blog plugged on Renest and want to tell you that this is awesome. It is very challenging though, as you said, to change everything at once. My husband and I have our own blog: called la vie en vert (though a very modest blog compared to what else is out there) where we make a new change in our lifestyle once a week to be more sustainable. Though sometimes I feel silly, like this project is going to take forever, but then I think about how our lives have changed (and improved) since starting this in June. Your blog is great because it helps to give us ideas and keep us motivated. Also, the motivation behind your project, with the focus on cutting the oil out of your life, has helped me to realize that there are many different angles we can go at this project to keep it fresh as we continue week after week. Sorry -- this was a long comment, but kudos to you and keep it up! I enjoy reading every day!

    PS: we also follow the "if it's yellow..." mantra ;)

  2. I think it's disturbing that we pee in our drinking water, too.

    One thing I tried was saving my shower water, by stopping up the drain, and then scooping it into a bucket. When there was feces that needed flushing, I would flush the toilet with the water in the bucket, like you do when it's clogged. However, that got kind of messy, and I was worried about feces splashing out, so I stopped. You might be able to find a way to make it work, though, depending on your toilet.