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After Gulf oil spill, a new commitment to living oil-free?

As the Gulf oil crisis subsides, Americans may still be addicted to oil. But as my own bid to live oil-free shows, reducing our energy footprint is possible if we stick together.

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The good news about the BP oil crisis is that clean-up efforts are going well and the Deepwater Horizon well is just weeks away from being permanently sealed. The bad news is that a briefly alarmed American public is likely to resume its addiction to oil consumption.

But some people are changing their living patterns on a permanent basis and learning what it takes to get by with far less petroleum. I’m one of them.

An ambitious goal

Back in May, with the crisis in full swing, I decided to go “petrol free one day at a time.” There’s something oddly empowering about setting an unattainable goal, which is fortunate because I soon discovered just how hard this task was.

It’s now been more than 90 days into my effort and though I am far from oil-free, what I’ve learned so far has been freeing.

When the oil spill first started April 20, I (like many people) hoped it would be resolved quickly and didn’t pay much attention to it. After all, I couldn’t go down there and stop the flow myself, so I would just have to wait it out. As the days became weeks, it was clear that there would be no quick end to the spill.

Something inside me demanded to know why I hadn’t been living by my own values. I had previously professed to believe in sustainable living, respect for the Earth, and all the animals that call it home, but the growing ecological disaster in the Gulf soon made me realize that my life didn’t reflect that belief at all.

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