A Weekend Without Oil


An ad on a website alerted me to an upcoming non-event in which people will not do things in order to save energy. It’s a “Weekend Without Oil.” Such a thing is impossible, unless you want to stand naked in the back yard without consuming a single thing except grass – provided you haven’t used any petrochemical fertilizers or mowed it with a powered machine, of course. Oil is everywhere. It was once thought to be a boon to civilization until it became Gaia’s version of original sin, but it is still quite useful. You could even say invaluable, if you wanted to start a fight.

Says the site:


On August 21st and 22nd, commit to these 11 actions!

To the barricades, comrades. Let us strive to smash the driving-dog petro-lackeys and their revanchist designs! Mind you, I have no problem with conservation; waste not, want not, and all that. I just don’t want to adopt a pre-industrial lifestyle. Here are the ACTIONS to which we must COMMIT.

Walk or ride your bike: Avoid using cars and if you must, always try to carpool.

Sorry, no. Saturday I go grocery shopping. I will not walk for six miles lugging gallon-bladders of milk.

Enjoy the outdoors: Avoid buying new sporting equipment, since oil makes up nearly 25% of rubber. Footballs or basketballs, for example, can last for many years and used equipment is often just as good and will reduce demand for oil needed to make new rubber.

Not planning on buying a new football, so I’m good there. In fact my rubber needs are mostly met for the foreseeable future.

Use reusable bags: Avoid disposable plastic. Plastic bags are a huge waste for very little benefit. Nearly 10 percent of U.S. oil consumption, approximately 2 million barrels a day, is used to make plastic products alone.

That’s a bit disingenuous. “Plastic” comprises a wide variety of objects with innumerable purposes. Question for the activists: how much do you want to see the plastic-manufacturing work-force reduced? Ten percent? Twenty?

My store also collects old plastic bags, and I was under the impression they were made from corn. Everything is made out of corn these days. GM’s next car will be made out of corn and also run on corn, so if you run out of gas you can rip off a piece of the bumper and shove it in the tank.

Be conscious about what you eat that weekend: You can reduce oil demand by changing your diet to eat less meat, more local foods that require less transportation and organic food, which doesn’t use petro-based fertilizers.

You know which restaurant is the most popular with neighborhood foodies, to use a term I hate? A sushi joint. Shouldn’t sustainable-food people start picketing sushi bars? I’m pretty sure we don’t raise a lot of kelp and crab in the city.

Don’t buy new make-up that weekend: The majority of cosmetics are petroleum-based, including lip gloss, face powder, nail polish, and more. So avoid buying new make-up products this weekend and research the brands when you purchase in the future.

This I can do without significant alterations to my lifestyle.

Drink tap water: Avoid beverages bottled in disposable plastic, they make up nearly 1.5 million tons of plastic waste per year, so get a reusable bottle and fill it up.

This one’s fine, too; since I never bought the mystique of bottled water, it wasn’t hard to adjust when opinion pivoted and condemned the status symbol.

Make your electronic gadgets last: Avoid buying new electronics. Electronics take a lot of oil to produce and the gadgets you already have can last much longer than the rate at which new ones are released.

I just bought an electronic gadget: an HD Live unit, which lets me stream Netflix to my TV. This means I don’t have to drive to the video store or movie theater. Am I still a good person?

Go to the movies or stream them on Hulu: Avoid buying new DVDs/Blu-Rays, as oil is a key ingredient in their production, packaging and shipping.

Ah! Well, I didn’t see that was next. This I can do as well, since I don’t buy physical media. But I do plan to drive to Best Buy for some blank DVDs for storage. A 100-pack ought to do. But shouldn’t we just avoid watching movies altogether? Petroleum is used in every aspect of movie-making, and even if the movie’s mostly CGI, oil is used in the manufacture and transportation of computers, and they contain toxic chemicals. If someone recommends a fine foreign film – which possibly had to be flown over on a plane – shouldn’t I suddenly go all cool, and say “I thought you cared about the planet”?

Skip buying new clothes that weekend: Swap clothes with friends or check out the local vintage store. The less new clothes you buy the less oil is used in the manufacturing process and transportation.

And the more the clothing sector declines – but of course that would have no net effect, since all the clerks would get green-economy jobs building windmills. Even so, look at the benefits the Gap offers. As far as I can tell the benefits at the local vintage store consist of buy-one-get-one-free coupons for the local piercing store.

I will not be swapping clothes with friends, though. I’m a guy. We never find ourselves in the closet with a pal, looking through old T-shirts, saying “This would look great on you.”

Head to your local library or read online: Avoid using a printer and buying printed material including daily newspapers. Printing doesn’t just waste paper, nearly 100,000 gallons of ink each day is used on daily newspapers alone.

Oh Criminey Joseph, is there any industry they don’t want to hobble? “Avoid buying daily newspapers.” Not that people need encouragement, but is there any sane soul in the country who passes a rack of papers and feels a stab of pain over the amount of oil those journals represent? Note how the very act of using paper for its intended purpose is a “waste.” Ideally we should close the mills and leave the trees stand, I guess.

Spread the word! Get 3 friends to sign the pledge and help raise awareness on ways they can help reduce their dependence on oil-related products.

Note the word “dependence.” “Usage” is now flat-out “dependence.”

The page, as of this writing, says it’s offset 8000 barrels of oil. Assuming everyone who signed up does everything on the list. This is a ridiculously small amount of oil. As I may have mentioned, my family is in the petrochemical biz, with a gas station and a line selling fuels and lubricants. (We move them around in trucks! Petroleum consuming trucks full of petroleum! Evil compounded!) One of the clients is a railway, which uses unimaginable quantities of diesel to move goods from the ports across the plains. Carbon taxes, of course, would increase the price of everything the trains carry.

I’d say we spill more oil in a day than these people hope to save by avoiding newspapers and footballs, but we don’t spill a drop. We had to buy absorbent charcoal mats which are placed on the ground by the truck and the train. (In the winter the driver has to lug them up ice banks to get to the tracks.) In order to conform with environmental standards, the sites are photographed by orbital satellites to check for spillage. I am not, as a friend of mine says, making this up.

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  1. Profile Photo Inactive

    Wouldn’t it be nice to have a weekend without an annoying leftist telling what you should COMMIT to do?

    • #1
  2. Profile Photo Member

    The funny thing, James, is that most here would probably agree with your stance of “waste not, want not, and all that,” and be happy. The unfunny thing is that the left will not rest until everyone’s stuck living by their contorted standards.

    On the one hand, you have people who appreciate the wonderful things modern life has to offer while making commonsense efforts to live responsibly. On the other, you have loonies who can recite some deeply terrible fact about the creation of every product on earth, and make decisions based on an elaborate “green” checklist. I don’t know where this leaves Rob and other early-adopters, wrecking Gaia with their iPads and the like :)

    • #2
  3. Profile Photo Inactive

    Mr. Lileks:

    Will you please report to the International Criminal Court in the Hague at your earliest possible convenience. Charges currently being filed against you include the following: consumption of animal protein, willful possession of an internal combustion engine, spreading sedition, blasphemy, and heresy, and carnal thoughts of a heterosexual nature. If you cannot afford an attorney, one will be appointed you by the court. Have a nice weekend.

    • #3
  4. Profile Photo Contributor

    I wonder where Al Gore will jet to in order to participate.

    • #4
  5. Profile Photo Contributor

    Heck, I’ve lived many a weekend committing these eleven actions without even realizing it.

    I call weekends like this “lazy weekends”.

    • #5
  6. Profile Photo Contributor

    And seriously, who buys new clothes, makeup, and electronic gadgets every weekend anyhow?

    What kind of weirdos have to be told not to do this every weekend? Movie stars?

    • #6
  7. Profile Photo Member
    Midget Faded Rattlesnake: And seriously, who buys new clothes, makeup, and electronic gadgets every weekend anyhow?

    Al Gore? Wait, Sajak already burned through our Gore Joke Offsets for this post.

    • #7
  8. Profile Photo Inactive
    Pat Sajak: I wonder where Al Gore will jet to in order to participate. · Aug 7 at 10:54am

    Al’s giving up massage oil for the weekend.

    • #8
  9. Profile Photo Podcaster

    A couple of years ago National Geographic (I believe) published a photograph of a family on their front lawn surrounded by every piece of household good that contained oil. Needless to say their home was nearly empty.

    I tried finding that picture this morning but NatGeo has fully climbed aboard the Global Warming Express and such things have been lost in the memory hole…

    • #9
  10. Profile Photo Member
    ~Paules: Mr. Lileks:

    Will you please report to the International Criminal Court in the Hague at your earliest possible convenience. Charges currently being filed against you include the following: consumption of animal protein, willful possession of an internal combustion engine, spreading sedition, blasphemy, and heresy, and carnal thoughts of a heterosexual nature. If you cannot afford an attorney, one will be appointed you by the court. Have a nice weekend. · Aug 7 at 10:40am

    However, do not travel by any means that would utilize petrochemical products….

    Do you know much electricity/fueled-by-oil a webserver (even a shared webserver) in a hosting facility uses to get this message to the people? I’d suspect more than the petrochemicals used in ink in several major dailies combined. How many parts in that webserver, the network equipment, the cabling, the backup/data redundancy, the fiber into & out of the datacenter, the construction of the datacenter, the intended audiences’ computers, wiring, internet connection, are dependent on petrochemicals? Oil, like Elvis, is everywhere.

    What they need is to fall back to the last oil free vestiges of communication.

    The town crier.

    Whom I can also easily ignore.

    • #10
  11. Profile Photo Inactive

    That is the real meaning here: The dominant feature of the radical project – at least for the last 50 years – has been to take things which are objectively wonderful and slowly turn them on their heads until they are seen as the very essence of evil. Prosperity, free enterprise, petroleum, fertilizer, automobiles, the list goes on and on. Yet……. these same people will not take any actual action that jeapordizes their own fun and games. It’s all idiot shallow play acting. It would be easy to just laugh at them and move on were it not for the fact that other, generally poorer and disadvantaged people, do in fact pay the price for their radical chic brethren.

    • #11
  12. Profile Photo Inactive

    These people are so puritanical. Their direct fore’people’ were the grim and judgmental church going folk who gave ‘church’ and ‘God’ a very bad reputation.

    Only these people have no God except themselves.

    • #12
  13. Profile Photo Inactive

    If the Al Gore crowd gets its way we’ll all end up living in the dark, in a cave, with the bats– and the bats’ needs will invariably be placed before ours.

    • #13
  14. Profile Photo Inactive

    Stop the presses: Can you imagine what this will do to your local oleaginous politician. Now, I know politics is closer to crude than to crude oil, more Vaseline than shortening, but can any politician survive a day, never mind a weekend, without leaving a slick somewhere? As evidence I cite the gulf, once Obama stopped visiting the oil just disappeared. Locals are sceptical of this boon’s longevity, I know, but they’ve been through a lot and have earned that scepticism honestly, so I’ll cut them some slack, but I’m betting no Obama no tar-balls on the beach.

    • #14
  15. Profile Photo Member

    Phew- thank goodness, the title of this post scared me before I read the list. The idea of a weekend without onion rings and potato chips was too frightening to contemplate- no oil for deep-frying?

    And I do have some locally-grown, pasture-grazed beef in the freezer.

    • #15
  16. Profile Photo Member

    “Walk or ride your bike”

    Immediate fail. Your bike’s tires and your shoes are petrochemical products. Not to mention the fact they were manufactured, then shipped, more oil. I wish I could make these idiots live for a week without any technology higher then the neolithic, since that seems to be their goal for the rest of us.

    • #16

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