Geoff Levick: Strip the house to prepare for life without oil

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Geoff Levick says we should do our bit to cut out the wasteful use of oil as fuel. Photo / Thinkstock
Geoff Levick says we should do our bit to cut out the wasteful use of oil as fuel. Photo / Thinkstock

Those opposed to oil exploration should put principles ahead of comfort, writes Geoff Levick.

There is a segment of the population who believe we should not explore for oil at all, and whatever reserves we know about we should leave in the ground.

Clearly these people would find it distasteful, hypocritical even, to use products which are made directly from oil derivatives or where such derivatives are an essential part of the manufacturing process.

They should thus clear their homes of such products, and I can give them a guide.

I cannot speak about any individual home, just in general terms about an average home.

Warning: You will need a truck.

Big picture first. All paint and varnish interior, exterior and roof will need to be removed. The whole house stripped of electrical wiring, cables, switches and plugs, PVC plumbing, waste and sewer pipes as well as electrical conduit and insulation batts.

The large council-laid pipes bringing you water and taking away sewage will need to be at least disconnected. In the small room, remove the seat, cistern, toilet paper and brush.

Bathroom: Remove all acrylic basins, baths, showers, screens as well as plastic or fabric shower curtains. Remove enamelled or laminated vanity units and tops, synthetic bathmats, carpet tiles and/or vinyl flooring.

Take away all plastic bottles, pots and tubes together with all the contents of shampoos, liquid soaps, creams, ointments etc as well as toothpaste, toothbrushes and combs. Throw out any aspirin and sticking plasters.

Lounge: Virtually all furniture coverings (including leather), curtains and drapes must go. Any beanbags have to go, plus the television and stereo and all leads that go with them. All glossy paper books and magazines.

Kitchen: Fridge and freezer must go out, and if you have a dishwasher that's gone as well. Again, all enamelled or laminated surfaces. Non-stick pots, pans and baking dishes. All appliances and their cords. Microwave cooking containers. Dishwash brushes and liquids. All plastic bottles containing oil, vinegar, milk etc.

The bedrooms and wardrobes are a real problem. The mattresses, polycotton bedding, brushed blankets, duvets and pillows stuffed with anything other than feathers all have to go. Any electric blankets are out too.

All clothing made in full or in part from acrylic, polyester, nylon, polynosic, elastane etc will have to be ditched. This means almost every item of clothing except cotton and wool, and realistically cotton has to go as well as it is very likely to contain oil-derived chemicals and coatings.

Handbags, schoolbags and suitcases - gone. All carpets. Throw out shoes of all types including leather, plus sandals, jandals and gumboots. Plus most or all socks.

The office? All ink pens, computers, printer, land phones and cellphones will go. And any cameras, of course.

Laundry: Washing machine, mops, brooms and all plastic containers and contents are history. So is the vacuum cleaner.

Off to the garage. Drain the car of fuel, of course. Remove the battery, electrical leads and all seats. Take off the tyres. There is a lot more but the car is immobile anyway so why bother.

Over there in the corner, the holiday stuff - tent and ropes, sleeping bags and ground mats, deck chairs, chillybins and bags, surfboard and wetsuit, boogie boards, skateboards, fishing rods and lines etc all have to go. Sorry about the golf bag and balls, tennis rackets and any sunglasses. Beach umbrellas too.

Bikes? If they're made with an enamelled metal frame or fibreglass, throw them out. Otherwise, take off the tyres, seat, handle grips, rear reflector and drink bottle. Get rid of the helmet, and all specialty bike clothing, gymwear and thermal underwear and shirts.

That'll do for the day. On your way out to the tip, take down your clothesline, hook up your plywood or fibreglass boat (and any lifejackets) and throw your wheelybins and recycle bins in the back.

If there are any cones around roadworks on the way, take them as well. If you wear dentures, spit them out. Sorry about your artificial limb, heart valve or hip.

If anyone thinks I have been a bit tough here, I would point out that I have not mentioned more than 6000 other products which depend on oil or its cuzzie natural gas.

From your now-desolate home it is not hard to imagine how hospitals and schools would also have to shut down - to empty a hospital would need a train, not a truck. With no water reticulation and/or irrigation we don't have farms either.

Just looking at the fact that billions of humans rely on synthetic fibres for cheap, serviceable clothing and shoes, it seems to me that we should (a) try very hard to find as much oil as we can and (b) do our bit to cut out the wasteful use of it as fuel.

The idea of not looking for it and/or leaving it in the ground seems a nonsense to me.

Geoff Levick is a retired businessman with nearly 40 years' experience in the plastics and chemicals industries.

- NZ Herald

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