Posts Tagged 'petroleum'

Is Skiing Sustainable?

I wrote on Monday about what a blast Thor and I just had on a Portland Parks and Recreation trip to Crater Lake, Oregon. Who’d have thought that skiing in a snowstorm could be so fun?

Since my vision of the diamond-cut life involves true sustainability, how sustainable was this group venture? Well, our crew of 22 created far fewer emissions with our snowshoes and cross-country skis than if we’d been on snowmobiles and all-terrain vehicles (ATV’s). And vanpooling with 11 people in each van was certainly fuel-efficient. But how about our polypropylene and fleece clothing, which is all petroleum-based? And what of the large amounts of embodied energy in our high-tech skis, poles and snowshoes?

Most folks on this trip were strongly drawn to sustainability, and a number of us worked in the field. The group agreed on the merits of green buildings, renewable energy and human services, but never questioned (out loud, at least) the lion’s share of resources embedded in our own sports equipment and clothing.

Which was quite human of us. It’s hard to be objective about yourself and your choices. But I’m trying to be objective, so: How do you not use the petroleum-based clothing that keeps you warm and dry in sub-freezing conditions? Once these things are invented, how can you abstain? People had plenty of fun in the snow before high-tech clothes and gear were invented. So why are we so hooked on the current inventions?

I’m good at being happy, at finding joy in simple things and the natural world and in most people I meet, but I don’t know how to truly transcend this materialistic, fossil-fuel-based culture that I was born into. I do not have all the answers on how to live the sustainable, diamond-cut life of my vision.

I am open to people’s best advice.


Heating Our House With Biodiesel

I got up at 5 this morning and immediately put on my fleece pants, top and socks. (It’s a bummer that fleece is so great when it’s derived from petroleum). I was still cold so I turned the heat on — not petroleum.

Thor and I have almost pure biodiesel (B99) in our oil furnace. We bought it from Star Oil, who bought it from SeQuential Biofuel. So we’re heating our house with used vegetable oil from restaurants and Kettle Foods. Recycling on a new level. And it reduces our home heating’s carbon dioxide emissions by 73%.

Our only claim to any sacrifice here is that we paid slightly more for biodiesel, and have had some fuel pump challenges. If you know where to find a fuel pump specifically designed for B99, please tell me where in the comment section below.

Biodiesel, I have finally figured out, is a different animal from ethanol, with a much lower carbon footprint. I’ll devote a future post to that. But right now, I have to work on firming up my carpool plans for my first day of work at ODOT on Tuesday.

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