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)

Sunday, August 29, 2010


26 August 2010

So I'm playing catch up a little bit here translating my notes into postings....Life has gotten in the way of the project the last few days with other project deadlines, out-of-town visitors and a new roommate.  My goal with the blog is to post everyday, because everyday I come across TONS of new information just talking to people about the project.  Literally EVERYONE I talk to has something to offer, whether it be an article they read, some advice about growing plants or simply putting me in contact with someone I should talk to.  Its really great to see how much people really already collectively know about many of the things I'm doing/learning for the first time during this project.  I feel like I know at least one person who is really an expert on at least one of the categories of this project: friends who bike around the city know the best routes, lots of people who garden and can give me tips on starting plants, people who have home-composting bins....  In an age when we will need to be re-learning how to live more self-sufficient lives its great to know that there is a wealth of information from all kinds of sources and that really everybody has SOMETHING to offer....

Today I started making my own candles.  This is kind of a nit-picky detail of the project, however, by learning to make your own products (of any kind) makes you really think about what goes into those products.  As I run out of conventional products I have (lotions, shampoos, cleaners) I'll be making those as well.   I've been burning off the last of my "oil" candles (made of paraffin wax as most conventional candles are).  I got soy wax chips instead (had to order these because I couldn't find a local supplier).  Its easy to do, and a bunch of small mason jars serve as excellent candle holders.  I had an old candle jar so I used that.  You simply melt the wax, center the wick in the container and pour in.  It took a few hours to harden afterwards but now I have an oil-free candle!  This process got me thinking about the kinds of things like candles made from oil-products that we use everyday.  It is actually really surprising to me that nobody really thinks about air-quality issues with burning paraffin wax in your home.  I don't know much about this at this point, but I would assume that something that is a by-product of oil refining is a fairly toxic material, and burning it releases it into the air to be inhaled.  With so many "holistic therapy" kinds of uses for candles its surprising that there aren't more soy-based ones.  I have seen these at my co-op and similar stores, but the typical candle is made of paraffin wax.  The soy based flavors are plant products and are therefore, not toxic and burn longer. 

Also, I've begun looking into how to stop junk mail from getting mailed to be everyday.  I'm collecting all of my waste for the 100 Days so minimizing waste as much as possible is important.  I mentioned earlier that I wasn't sure what use I had for lots of paper, especially junk mail.  A lot of junk mail is coated in some kind of wax, and uses toxic dyes so composting isn't a good option.  Somebody mentioned to me that a lot of this mail might actually be a vegetable wax coating, I'll have to look into that.  A friend sent me this link to the 'opt-out' website for junk mail: 

more 'catch up' posts to come tomorrow!  many people have mentioned that they check the blog daily, which I really appreciate, so hopefully from here on out I can get in the habit of daily posts to get the most organized feedback from everyone :)