The recent massive Gulf Oil Spill has us all feeling a little down. More and more people are realizing that our dependence on oil has got to end. The most obvious way to lower our petroleum intake is to cut down on driving and flying. However, even the biggest environmentalist among us has trouble avoiding oil products on a daily basis. Sure, we know the big ones, gasoline, plastics, and synthetic leather and rubber, but there are more products than you can imagine fashioned out of this disappearing and destructive resource. We have put together a list of the most shocking 5 we came across with tips on how to avoid them! Eventually we will wean ourselves off the oil and here is how to start.

5 Things You Didn’t Know Were Made From Oil

1) Re-usable Shopping Bags: Many of those re-usable shopping bags you see for sale at any supermarket are actually made out of synthetic fibers. Polyester, polyester, acrylic, rayon, and nylon are made from petroleum. These products will not bio-degrade. In addition, some of the printing on the bag is likely to use petrochemicals, also derived from oil. While re-usable bags are a better alternative to paper and plastic, be sure to check the tag before purchasing. Many re-usable bags are made from natural fibers such as cotton or hemp(even better if it is organic) and if you stick to an eco-friendly company, most likely their inks and printing processes will be sans petrochemicals.

2) Cleaning Products: Most conventional household cleaning products, including laundry detergent, are made from petrochemicals. These chemicals are not only oil based but harmful to our health and largely unnecessary. Next time you go to the market to purchase your household cleaners, try some homemade remedies such as vinegar and baking soda. If you still prefer a lemony or lavender scent to your clean house, check out some of the all natural brands such as Method or Seventh Generation.

3) Candles: Unfortunately, many candles are made with paraffin or polyolefin wax, another petroleum-based products. Candles may make your house smell sweet, but if they are conventional types, they are also emitting pollution into your house and toxic chemicals into your house. This type of oil product is easy to avoid as there are candles made from soy, beeswax(although not vegan), or coconut palm oil.

4) Bath & Beauty: In most make-up and beauty products, such as moisturizer contain offending ingredients such as paraffin oil, petrolatum, and mineral oil which are all derived from crude oil! We all know buying oil sourced ingredients is not the most sustainable, but it must not also be healthy. Just imagine spreading crude oil on your body the next time you think about purchasing a conventional lotion. Gross! Never fear, though, as many natural products are on the market these days which will contain healthy ingredients such as Shea or coco butter and coconut oils. Most natural grocery stores, health food stores, Whole Foods, and co-ops will stock beauty products containing no oil derived products.

5) Foil Packaging: Mmmm so you are reaching for that tasty bag of potatoes chips or other snack when you realize that bag is made out of, you guessed it, oil! Many snack packaging, may look like foil but it is actually made of mylar, a thinly stretched PET plastic bonded with aluminum. The best way to avoid this, is to not eat any snack foods (better for your health too)! But we know sometimes convenience or hunger takes over. Try to purchase snacks made in paper packaging or better yet from the bulk section in re-usable containers.

-Gina Williams