How to Conserve Fossil Fuels

Three Methods:Around the HouseTransportationBe the Change You Wish to See in Others

Fossil fuels are materials that are non-renewable such as oil, gas and coal. Aside from causing local air pollution from polluting particulates, the burning of fossil fuels releases carbon dioxide into the atmosphere, which is a greenhouse gas that contributes to climate change. Moreover, many fossil fuels are reaching their "peak" (oil being the most rapidly depleted). At some stage in the near future, switching from fossil fuel usage to renewable energy makes sense from economic, environmental, safety and health points of view. By starting your journey in conserving fossil fuels through changing your own uses, you can help others to see that a good and healthy life can still be had without guzzling away these precious resources.

Method 1
Around the House

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    Reduce your use of plastic. A lot of plastic, including the ubiquitous plastic bag, uses fossil fuels in its manufacture. Plastics don't break down easily and create landfill problems. Some plastic leach chemicals into our food, water and home environments. For reasons of fossil fuel reduction, your health and the health of your local ecosystems, using less plastic is a good choice to make.
    • Buy or make reusable bags. Leave some in your car/on your bike for shopping. Tuck a small one into your purse for removing when you buy groceries out of the blue.
    • Ask your local grocery store to stop using plastic bags. Many use biodegradable bags; this is one possible option. Bring your own bags from home.
    • Use glass containers to store food in the refrigerator.
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    Reduce, reuse, recycle. Making new cans and bottles take a whole lot more fossil fuels than recycling an old one. In most cities, recycling plants will pay money for cans. Be sure to meet that recycling centers requirements. For example, most recycling plants want the lids taken off of bottles. Also know what you can, and cannot recycle
    • Another R is "refuse". Simply refuse to bring products heavily reliant on fossil fuel usage into your home. Make the choice before you buy.
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    Be energy conscious with your power in the home. This is both a way to reduce fossil fuel usage and your power bill. Nobody likes power bills and power seems to go up every year, unlike incomes. So, the more that you can reduce your energy consumption, the more you can save and live more smartly.
    • Turn off lights. Several million people leave their lights on when going into another room, going away on vacation or business trips, etc., without even knowing or thinking about it. This costs a lot of money and is absolutely pointless as nobody is making use of the lighting. Consider switching to timer lighting or lighting that responds to motion if you need lights on in unused areas for security or safety reasons. For the sake of your health and well-being, use dimmer and less lighting later at night, to help your body get ready for sleep. If you are performing an activity such as reading or sewing, use a direct lamp rather than diffuse overhead lighting.
    • Pull appliances out from the plug when not in use. Stand-by mode still consumes energy. Simply remove the opportunities for such lost energy; make it a daily routine that you don't even think twice about.
    • Turn down the heating and AC temperature in your house and office/workplace. Even one degree less can make a large difference to your power usage but you won't notice as you'll adapt quickly.
    • Use more sweaters and blankets when it's cold. Walking around the house in a t-shirt mid-winter is a luxury, not a necessity. Of course, if your house is heated with renewables, go the t-shirt!
    • Take shorter showers; you'll use less power and less water. Install a solar water heater.
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    Install solar panels. These have been expensive options in the past but they're rapidly coming down in price as more companies make them and the market is expanding. In some places, local, state/provincial and national governments provide subsidies toward their uptake. Use solar power to heat your water and your home; unlike heaters they don't use fossil fuels for heat.
    • Solar garden lights can save on outdoor electricity usage.

Method 2

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    Ride a bike or walk more. Instead of driving a car or taking a bus, try cycling or walking to your destination. This isn't just great for reducing your fossil fuel use; it's also ideal for keeping you fit and healthy.
    • Kit yourself out with a good bike and safety gear. Look after both bike and gear so that they last a long time.
    • Find cycle-ways wherever possible. These are safer than doing the tango with cars, trucks and semis.
    • Use lighting at night to stay safe and see where you're headed.
    • No cycleways? Contact your local municipality and campaign for some to be added where you live.
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    Consider shifting to a hybrid or electric car. Both cars use less fossil fuels to power them. They are good "transition" vehicles until better, more viable options that aren't reliant on fossil fuels can be created.
    • These cars tend to be expensive. You might consider pooling money with trusted neighbors to share such a car between you. This could include carpooling to work/collecting kids from school, etc., taking it in turns. You could even do shopping trips at the same time. Getting to know and share with neighbors better is part of restoring a healthier social economy.
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    Catch public transportation more often. While such options usually still rely on fossil fuels, or some combination of fossil fuels and renewable fuels, the capacity to carry a whole lot more people at once makes these a better option than single car trips with one individual aboard.
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    Reduce the amount of your flights. Make conscious choices to not fly as often as you might. Many work reasons for flying can be changed to video link-up meetings or leaving a meeting until many items can be added to an agenda instead of one. For personal travel, do what you can to take less flights. For example, perhaps you could fly to a country but then use ground transport rather than more flights to get around the country. Or, maybe take only one flight holiday a year instead of two, etc. There are plenty of online calculators that can help you to work out a more efficient way to make the most of fewer flights.
    • Have really good reasons for flying. Just because a fare is really low does not mean you need to buy it. Were you really planning to travel to that place or is this a total whim? Have a set of reasons that guide your flying choices, such as family reunion = important; cheap flight to party island = not important, etc.
    • Follow news items about the ways in which the airline industry is being creative about harnessing new fuels and being more fuel efficient. Share this news with friends, and send messages of support to airlines that are trying to reduce their fossil fuel usage. They need to know the average traveler is watching and caring.
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    Avoid being traffic. Idling cars use up a lot of fuel doing nothing. Slow crawling in traffic tends to drive most humans crazy. If you can, choose to drive outside of peak traffic times and get a smoother, faster run that uses up less fuel and keeps you feeling cooler too.

Method 3
Be the Change You Wish to See in Others

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    Influence others in your local area and community. Start a campaign or action group that helps the environment. There are many things you can do that make an actual difference, such as a litter clean up or picking up cans. You can distribute information about ways to reduce fossil fuel usage in your local area. You could even set up a group that goes into people's houses to "audit" their usage and offer suggestions about making changes for the better––but be friendly and avoid the bossy or puritanical approach.
    • Keep it positive. Tell people what they can do rather than what they shouldn't be doing. People respond to positive messages and shut down when it's all negative. Ask yourself which message you'd rather hear and use that as your guiding rule.


  • Learn more about renewable energy options. Renewable energy includes solar, wind, tide and geothermal energy. If renewable energy is an option where you live, consider switching over to it for at least some of your energy use.
  • Purchase less stuff. Stuff needs fossil fuels to make and transport it. Buy what you need rather than on impulse.

Article Info

Categories: Reduce Recycle and Reuse