The Hidden Oil In Our Lives

by heather

Deepwater Horizon trajectory, courtesy NOAA

Deepwater Horizon trajectory, courtesy NOAA

The environmental catastrophe in the Gulf has been an incredibly sobering experience for all of us, and it’s really opened a lot of eyes, my own included, to just how damaging our consumption of oil is.

Right now, over 200,000 gallons of oil are spilling into the Gulf every single day. I can’t even wrap my mind around that much oil, and the devastating effects that it’s going to have on the coast’s wetlands and wildlife. It’s simply heartbreaking.

Some Good News…

You regular readers probably have seen my good friend Renaissance Ronin lurking around here. He loves leaving snappy comments to get a laugh. In spite of his sarcastic, gruff exterior, though, he’s got a heart of gold. And, he’s an expert building with shipping containers.

Well, he lives in Biloxi (about 1,000 feet from the local beach). And, he’s putting together a relief center, out of ISBU shipping containers, to help feed the thousands of volunteers that are descending on the Gulf to help out. Here’s an update on his progress:

Man, has it been a long day…

I spent all day long trying to coordinate the creation of a foodbank system that will actually be able to feed over 500 housed workers, camping in the Mississippi Coliseum.

I have fresh/frozen chickens coming from Florida, meat from Tennessee, and vegs from Ga, plus a ton of water and drinks from the CocaCola bottlers locally.

The powers that be are planning to feed the workers MRE’s. Yeah, that’s what I’d want after 12 hours of mucking oil and sand… a big plastic bag with lousy tasting “kinda food” in it…

So, we’re taking 4 20′ ISBUs and turning them into galleys. We put them on car hauler flatbeds, and all we’ll need is a hose, and a water source. We have generators to power the electrical, and the ranges are gas, and will work off LPG.

Another ISBU is being turned into a walk-in cooler storage unit, by fiddling with a Window AC unit, and sticking a foot of foam on the outside of the box for insulation.

(Okay… we’re using three units that we prepped for the build in Alabama, because the concrete floor was already in them, and they were already basically gutted and ready to rework. We’re going to just polish the floors with a surface grinder, and then paint them. We’ll prep replacement boxes for the Alabama build, after these are set.)

A church across the street from the church next door to me… has offered up their community center building, to be used as a dining hall, if we want it.

We’re waiting on a ruling from City Hall, now.

No oil yet, but I’m told that it’s getting closer, and it should start fouling the beaches by midday tomorrow.

We’re also told that they’ll start bringing people in to train the locals in oil clean-up, on Wednesday.

Local vets are already planning to start establishing a training center, so volunteers can learn how to clean wildlife. It’s going to be horrific.

The damage to wildlife is going to be catastrophic. The damage to the economy is going to be horrendous.

Sure, a lot of people will get jobs, but there is NO housing, and little in the way of a real food source, to support that many warm bodies all piled together.

We’ll have our work cut out for us.

Ronin is going to be sending pictures when he can, so I’ll keep all of you updated on his progress.

How You Can Help…

For a full list of volunteer and donation resources, check out this list put together by MSN.

The Hidden Oil In Our Lives…

This catastrophe has made me feel like I’m partly responsible. Why? Because I use oil all the time. I’m paying companies, BP included, to drill and provide me with that oil.

It makes me feel really, really bad.

I don’t drive that much, but I DO consume a lot of oil. Oil is in tons of products we use every day, and I wanted to share a list (courtesy with all of you to illustrate just how much oil we’re using. Some of these products will probably surprise you…I know it did me.

Oil is used in the creation of:

Clothing Ink

Heart Valves





Transparent tape


Vacuum bottles



Rubbing Alcohol


Epoxy paint

Oil filters


Hearing Aids

Car sound insulation


Motorcycle helmets


Shower doors


Refrigerator linings

Electrical tape

Safety glass


Salad bowl

Rubber cement

Nylon rope

Ice buckets


Hair coloring

Toilet seats

Denture adhesive


Movie film

Fishing boots


Water pipes

Car enamel

Shower curtains

Credit cards


Golf balls




Fishing rods


Plastic wood

Soft contact lenses

Trash bags

Hand lotion


Shaving cream


Paint brushes


Fan belts


Paint Rollers



Model cars

Floor wax

Sports car bodies


Dishwashing liquids

Unbreakable dishes





Hair curlers


Ice cube trays

Electric blankets

Tennis rackets

Drinking cups

House paint

Rollerskates wheels

Guitar strings



Ice chests

Life jackets

TV cabinets

Car battery cases

Insect repellent


Typewriter ribbons

Cold cream


Plywood adhesive



Artificial turf

Artificial Limbs




Beach Umbrellas

Ballpoint pens


Nail polish

Golf bags


Tape recorders


Vitamin capsules






Fishing lures


Shoe polish

Petroleum jelly

Faucet washers

Food preservatives




LP records



Last Word…

That list is mind-boggling to me.

All of us can make a big difference in the amount of oil we use simply by driving less, and avoiding the products on this list whenever we can. Buying used, and reusing what we’ve got, can also make a difference.

Again, as pictures come in with Ronin’s efforts to get his ISBU containers set up in Biloxi I’ll keep all of you updated.

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RenaissanceRonin May 4, 2010 at 10:33 am

No oil yet. The tide was holding North-northwest for a while, but it’s starting to shift now. In the beginning, we’ll see small amounts of trace oil, as it starts to arrive. Then, all hell will break loose.

In the meantime, we’re trying to get something in place to actually care for the workers who will be caring for our coastline as this crisis starts to impact us. Experts are already saying that this could be the largest oil spill in the history of oil production as we know it. Oy.

If you’d like to help, any donation would be appreciated, no matter how small. You can find that donation information, on my blog, or Heather’s. We have a lot to do, and little time. In the meantime, when we take off our welding helmets, we’re looking out to sea, waiting for the tide…



RenaissanceRonin May 5, 2010 at 8:28 pm

Cinco De Mayo…

I’ve been talking with beach workers… you know, those guys that rent you beach chairs and jet ski’s. They’re telling me that the beaches are literally covered with camera crews (both foreign and domestic), and the hulls on the water toys are are starting to foul (on the bottom of the water bikes and jet ski’s), and that the footwells on the water toys have oil rings on them, from the splashing water, carrying the beginnings of the spill to our shores.

The first to be affected will be all the waterfowl that feed in these waters. If you’re looking to help, a donation to an agency tooling up to try and save these sea creatures would be a wonderful place to start. Hundreds of thousands of sea animals will be affected. It’s hard to think about this without tears in your eyes. IF this spill lives up to expectations, it could signal the end of life as we know it on America’s Southern Shores.

In the next week, we’ll start seeing how bad the damage will be. The winds and the tides will be the messengers.

Christie May 11, 2010 at 3:25 pm

Wow. This is an eye-opening list. Thank you for posting. I will definitely think twice about some of the things I purchase. And thank you for the MSN link on ways to help.

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