5 Ways to Stop Supporting Big Oil

Shell just abandoned their controversial project to drill for oil in the fragile Alaskan Arctic. While this is something to celebrate, we all need to look in the mirror when it comes to creating demand for such efforts, as Americans still top world oil consumption. Here are a few ways we can stop abetting Big Oil in ruining the environment.

1. Walk, ride your bike or take the bus. Seriously.

Environmentalists have called for people to use alternative transportation for years, but most of us still aren’t listening. According to Green Car Reports, we take only one in five trips without hopping behind the wheel. While interest in cars is waning, especially among millennials, more than 70 percent of petroleum goes toward transportation. That’s an average of 374.74 million gallons a day of gasoline.

Granted, public transportation can be patchy depending on where you live and walking or biking places can sometimes feel dangerous or impractical. As New Zealand activist Meghan Hughes notes, we live in an oil-dependent society. But times when we can, we should avoid driving. And if we can’t, taking steps to drive with more efficiency, like keeping tires properly inflated and disposing of inefficient cars in Cash for Clunkers programs, can save 46 billion barrels of oil, Grist reports.

2. Watch what you eat.

As sustainable food advocate Michael Pollan notes, “When we eat from the industrial food system, we are eating oil and spewing greenhouse gases.” In fact, he continues, with all the petroleum-based pesticides, farm equipment and processing, packaging and transportation, food production is the second highest consumer of fossil fuels in the country.

Eating locally can help because the food travels less than the typical 1,500 miles a meal takes to get to your plate. Those with lower incomes should know that they can use food stamps at their community farmers markets—and buy twice as much produce thanks to a kickback called “Double Up Food Bucks.”

3. Recognize products with hidden oil.

Alongside most plastics, companies secretly put oil in more than 6,000 products including aspirin, crayons and polyester. While its use has become ubiquitous in most households, we can take creative solutions to avoid at least some of the damage. For instance, try drinking water to relieve headaches, using beeswax crayons to draw with and buying clothing made out of natural fibers instead.

Also, while its use of petroleum is not exactly hidden, when you do use a car, recycle the used motor oil. According to the Environmental Protection Agency, it only takes 1 gallon of used oil to produce 2.5 quarts of new oil, compared to 42 gallons of the crude stuff.

4. Support legislation and politicians who support renewables.

While many voters want their legislators to care for the environment, politicians vary in the quality of their execution on that goal. The Sierra Club released a report earlier this year that reported on various representatives’ support of sustainable energy in Congress. Reelect the ones that make the cut.

You can also sound off personally on pending legislation regarding drilling and other oil issues online. Perhaps with enough support, situations like California’s recently failed bill on reducing petroleum use will have a chance.

5. Use existing information.

Hundreds of pieces advise on how to reduce U.S. oil dependence. Read some. The information isn’t new, and it isn’t any less relevant than when it was first published. Care2 walks you through more simple things you can do to use less oil here. If enough of us make an effort, we can reduce our use of this nonrenewable resource.

Photo Credit: Thinkstock


Siyus Copetallus
Siyus Copetallus3 years ago

Thank you for sharing.

Danuta Watola
Danuta Watola3 years ago

Thanks for sharing.

Natasha Salgado
Past Member 3 years ago

Def doing my best ditched the car long ago. I bike everywhere instead use a sharing car service when i need a car. thanks

Nancy BIELECKIE3 years ago

I agree that governments should do more to stop big companies and corporations from putting oil in things where the use of oil is really not needed. I feel that our governments should pass legislation to make corporations and companies liable for the toxins they release in to our atmosphere. Untill then though, I feel it is every individuals responsibility to ensure that they are aware of the usage of oil in their own lives and do the best they can to reduce the use. As climate changes and our planet has worse and angrier storms, our planet is telling us to stop the practices of the past and invent new ways to live harmoniously with it. It is high time we listened, before the high tide takes us all away!

Daniel N.
Past Member 3 years ago

Good advice. Thank you.

Janis K.
Janis K3 years ago

Thanks for sharing.

Nils Anders Lunde
PlsNoMessage se3 years ago


Heidi Aubrey
Heidi Aubrey3 years ago

Thank you Emily for the great suggestions.

Barbara P.
Barbara P3 years ago

I'm pleased to say that I already do all of these things as much as I can. I don't have a car, so I always walk or use public transportation.