Molly Eagen, a student at the University of Minnesota working on her thesis for her Master of Science in Sustainable Design, has undertaken an ambitious project: Living 100 Days Without Oil. Find out more about her project below the jump.
As Molly describes her project:
This era in history may be remembered as the "Peak Age," a brief time when nearly all materials used to power and create our society reach the maximum extraction and production potential. Past this point, all of these resources become increasingly difficult to extract until they are no longer economically viable resources. There are hundreds of examples of resources, currently embedded in our industrial society, which have reached their peak in the 50 years surrounding 2010, but the one which will most impact our society is petroleum. The goal of living for 100 Days Without Oil is to understand the extent of our dependence on oil in American society today. Specifically how it will affect my life, as a 25 year old living in Minneapolis, MN. By using myself as a metric I can take a close and conscious look at where oil dependence occurs in all aspects of my daily lives: How we transport ourselves from one place to another, what we eat, how much waste we create, how water is cleaned and transported, where oil is used as a energy resource, in conventional medicine and for hygiene and how oil affects how we entertain ourselves and communicate with others. By demonstrating how someone would be forced to live without using any oil resources, outlining both what the sacrifices will be as well as the benefits, we can identify the many systems which will have to be re-designed in a world without cheap oil, and explore a new way of living in which we live in an energy balance.
Molly created this flow diagram showing where petroleum is in our daily lives that helped define the criteria for her project.
In her first few days she has investigated local food options, begun growing her own produce, rearranged her day to allow for light based activities to take place with natural light and started taking bucket showers. She has also begun to evaluate the spaces in which she lives in terms of how the design works with a more sustainable lifestyle:
A typical American bathroom evolved out of having running tap water; we have a space for the toilet, a tap for the sink and two taps for the shower and tub faucets. As soon as I have stopped using running water I've realized how inefficient the space really is to bring in water in different containers. I have to carry my gallon bucket into the shower, bring another bucket and place it near the sink to wash my hands. I've gotten in the habit of doing all my washing in the tub because it is the biggest space to put a bucket. I stand in the tub with clothes on and wash my face at night; I stand in the tub to wash my hands. Ideally, I think the whole bathroom would be tiled with a drain near the center, allowing containers of water to be placed in certain places and then dumped on the floor.
Molly has set up a blog that tracks her progress and asks her readers for ideas and suggestions regarding her new lifestyle. Follow her throughout her 100 day journey and give her tips on how to make it 100 Days Without Oil!
(Images: Molly Eagen: 100 Days Without Oil)