Gasoline fuels our cars and natural gas heats our homes, but have you ever wondered what life would be like without the countless products derived from natural gas and oil? In our modern world, we have come to enjoy and expect a certain quality of life that is sustained by everyday things made from these natural resources.
Think about a typical weekday. You brush your teeth, shower, put on makeup or shave before heading off to work. Without petroleum-based products, you would not have the toothbrush, toothpaste, mouthwash, shampoo, mascara, lipstick, shaving foam or razor for your morning routine. If your eyesight is poor, you could not rely on contact lenses or eyeglasses to sharpen your vision. You would even miss your daily multi-vitamin.
How is petroleum made into so many everyday products? After oil is brought to the surface, it is refined and broken into compounds known as fractions. Different fractions are blended to make a variety of raw materials used in manufacturing. These raw materials provide the basic building blocks for a myriad of items we use every day.
In the kitchen, your coffee pot, drinking cups, egg cartons and cooking utensils are probably made from petroleum products. Your refrigerator shelves, dish sponges, trash bags and non-stick pans are also derived from petroleum products.
As you drive or ride the bus to work, do you realize the dashboard, upholstery, windshield wipers, brake fluid and sun visors in the vehicle are also derived from natural gas and oil? Even the asphalt roads we drive on are made from petroleum products.
When you arrive at work, you may log onto a computer to check e-mails, dial your voice-mail and jot down messages or daily tasks. Computers, memory chips, telephones, ballpoint pens and ink are made from petroleum products. So are calculators, correction fluid, copy machines, printer cartridges and waste baskets. Even the building itself – from the linoleum floors and Formica countertops to the ceiling tiles and roof shingles – contains a host of petroleum-based products.
If you stop to visit a loved one at the hospital on your way home from work, you probably encounter countless petroleum-based products without notice. Even advanced medical devices such as artificial hearts, prosthetic limbs and hearing aides are made from natural gas and oil products. Anesthetics used to sedate surgery patients and cortisone used to treat arthritis and allergies are also made from petroleum products.
Home again at the end of the day, families depend on baby bottles, disposable diapers, pacifiers, teething rings and stuffed animals when raising their young children. Each of these is made from petroleum products. After school your child may attend a dance class or participate in sports. Without petroleum products, clothing and equipment from ballet tights to soccer balls, footballs, tennis rackets, diving boards and swim goggles would not exist as we know them today. Your artistic child might not have oil paints and brushes and your musician might not have her instrument or guitar strings.
By the end of the week you are probably looking forward to the coming weekend when you can enjoy a game of golf, ride your bicycle or go for a long run. Golf balls, bicycle tires and the rubber soles on your sneakers are all made from natural gas and oil products.
But for now, you crawl into bed, cozy up with pillows and blankets made from petroleum products and fall asleep, only to wake up to your digital alarm clock – also made from petroleum products – and start all over again.