After a long day or even a long week, most of us like to head home, make or take out a good meal, before wrapping up in a nice fleece blanket and getting cozy on the couch to watch a favorite show or a new movie. Sounds heavenly, right?!
What you might not even realize is that petroleum products are all around you and help make that evening relaxation session possible. Because oil is carbon based, it makes it one of the most versatile raw products on the planet. If we consider that all life, as we know it, is also carbon based, then it makes a lot of sense that such a material can have such broad applications. The stain resistant textiles that cover your couch, the plush fleece that keeps you warm, the hard plastic covering of your electronics, and the miracle of electricity that is the cornerstone of modern life, are all made possible through the use of petroleum.
Synthetic materials possess many of the qualities that we want in an object that is going to see almost daily use for years. Sofas have become a cornerstone in our lives. We laugh with family, share drinks with friends, play with our kids, and generally spend a lot of time on our furniture. A vinyl or microfiber couch can be a cheaper option than leather or wool, which share many of the qualities that people want from those materials. As mentioned earlier, all life is carbon-based and science has come a long way in imitating animal derived goods through the use of petroleum. Vinyl requires a relatively low amount of energy to produce and is a recyclable material. All this makes it a great option for the budget-minded, eco-friendly shopper who is in the market for an elegant and durable furniture set.
The textile industry has benefited tremendously from the use of petroleum products. Polyesters and other synthetic fabrics can be produced from recycled plastics, which are also derived from petroleum. Your recycled water bottle could be turned into a soft blanket or a cozy sweater. There are even companies taking plastic and turning them into textiles that we use all around the house.
Our television sets, remote controls, and portable electronics are also made possible through the use of plastics. The lightweight, moldable, and durable nature of plastics make it an ideal material for several applications around the house. Clocks, pens, cups, patio furniture, portable hard drives, and so much more are made using these amazing materials. As you look around, you might be surprised how much oil based products improve our lives.
Critics point out the non-decomposing nature of these materials as a point of contention for their use, and it is true that many of these materials can take years to break down. This is also a matter of changing our lifestyles, especially as more and more of our products need and contain parts and materials derived from mining and conventional energy. In the meantime, through proper recycling, these materials can go through multiple iterations of existence and benefit us in several different ways. What was once plastic trash that made its way to an ocean or a landfill could become a cozy blanket or fabric for a new couch. After years of use, maybe it gets shredded and repurposed into housing insulation. All of which can make our lives more comfortable and more enjoyable, thanks to oil delivered to us by pipelines.