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Think about all the ways we use petroleum every day

The next time you talk to people who condemn “dirty and dangerous” oil and protest the flow of oil through pipelines, ask them what they did that day and help them count how many times they utilized a petroleum product.

Did you brush your teeth this morning? Most toothpastes use a petroleum derivative in their composition.
Did you brush your teeth this morning? Most toothpastes use a petroleum derivative in their composition.
Photo by Joshua Hoehne on Unsplash

Recently, I read that the Grammy Award-winning Indigo Girls conducted a concert on a pontoon boat on the Mississippi River near Aitkin. The point of the concert was to protest the Line 3 Replacement Project.

Being celebrities — like Jane Fonda, who also jetted to Minnesota to protest the pipeline – doesn’t make them all-wise. They are just people like you and I, who use petroleum-based products on a near-daily basis!

Protesters – even those who drive motor homes — apparently think that our nation can just get along without petroleum. Perhaps they don’t realize how dependent we have become on petroleum in our daily lives.

Petroleum isn’t used only to fuel cars and pontoon boats that transport protesters to their destinations. Petroleum is present in very much of what we use every day.

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Did you brush your teeth this morning? Most toothpastes use a petroleum derivative in their composition.

Many of our personal care products are derived from petroleum. Here’s a short list: perfume, hair dye, cosmetics (lipstick, makeup, foundation, eyeshadow, mascara, eyeliner), hand lotion, soap, shaving cream, deodorant, panty hose, combs, shampoo, eyeglasses and contact lenses.

After you showered, what did you put on in regard to clothing? Clothing is commonly made from petroleum-based fibers, including acrylic, rayon, vegan leather, polyester, nylon and spandex. Even shoes and purses use petrochemicals for their lightweight, durable, and water resistant properties.

When you went into the kitchen for breakfast, perhaps you fried an egg in a pan that is made egg-friendly by a petroleum-based coating. You probably flipped that egg with a non-scratching spatula made from petroleum-based plastic. And when you took bread from a plastic bag and put a slice in the toaster, chances are good that toaster had plastic handles and control knobs and a plastic coating on the electrical cord that you plugged into a plastic-protected socket.

And while you were in the kitchen or bathroom, you probably walked across a floor protected by a plastic product, and maybe covered by a soft rug made from petroleum derivatives.

Tom Burford
Tom Burford
Then you left your house covered by vinyl siding and entered your car or a bus or rode a bike to work. All of these vehicles have petroleum in their tires and have seats covered by a petroleum product. And the car and bus (unless all electric) are fueled by petroleum. Even an electric car’s lap belts, upholstery, body parts and etc. have petroleum in them.

At work maybe you got a headache and took an aspirin – you guessed it — a petroleum product.

You might be surprised to learn that modern health care relies on petroleum products that have few substitutes. Plastics are used in a wide-range of medical devices, and petrochemicals are relied on for pharmaceuticals. Products include hospital equipment, IV bags, antihistamines, artificial limbs, dentures, hearing aids, heart valves and many more. And those precious N-95 face masks are also full of petroleum products.

After work you maybe went golfing, trying your best to make par by hitting a small round petroleum product.

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My point is this: The next time you talk to people who condemn “dirty and dangerous” oil and protest the flow of oil through pipelines, look at what they are wearing, what they are driving, and even look at the outboard motor propelling their pontoon boat. Ask them what they did that day and help them count how many times they utilized a petroleum product.

Perhaps they’ll see the hypocrisy in condemning something they use daily.

Tom Burford, of Bagley, Minnesota, has been a newspaper editor for more than 45 years.

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