One Green Thing: You’d be surprised all that is made with petroleum

One Green Thing

By Jan Herbert
Rockford Park District

Whether you were “green” before the color was fashionable or whether you’re just ready to find the “shade” that works best for you, here’s information about doing just “one green thing.”

Picking up trash along the beach, I have found half a dozen pieces of black stuff. It is soft, pliable, and I have to believe it is pieces of oil. Don’t they treat it in some way to help make it easier to pick up? That reminded me about reading about personal products that contain petroleum. I started looking it up, and here is what I found.

There could be petroleum hiding in:

Unless you are a cotton freak like me, petroleum is in a great deal of clothing. It is a part of everything labeled acrylic, nylon and polyester, and is in anything stretchy, the soles of your shoes, running shoes, and in fact, your entire brassiere is made of the stuff. Oh, and buttons and socks, too.

If you enjoy inexpensive accessories, you can count on it being contained in plastic earrings, bracelets and necklaces. Check, you will find it in the content of your hairbrush, comb and toothbrush. Accessories containing petroleum you might not think of include sunglasses, your iPod and your cell phone.

Are you imagining black goo touching you yet? Petroleum is also hiding in things that get even closer to you, including lipstick, mascara, eyeliner, hair spray, foundation, nail polish, perfume, eye shadow and lip-gloss. Petroleum could even be in your gum!

Does it make you wonder how many articles of clothing you can get out of a barrel of oil? I am going to stick to my “natural” fabrics as much as possible. OK, slap me, I do not always buy organic cotton garments. Have you ever tried to find them? And honestly, there are very few garments made of organic cotton at the thrift stores.

For more information, e-mail Jan Herbert at

From the April 20-26, 2011 issue

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