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SUN NEWS COLUMN: Oil protestors actually use countless oil products

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Many protestors and environmental organizations in Canada want governments to “keep oil in the ground.”

Yet, if you scan news stories of people protesting oil and gas projects in Canada, you’ll often find examples of activists choosing to use all kinds of products that are made with – wait for it – petroleum products. And we’re not just talking about gas for their cars or diesel for their buses.

If oil protestors can’t even live without oil, policy makers should take note that it’s not so simple to just “keep it in the ground.” With that in mind, came up with a “top ten” list of oil products that oil protestors use.

To begin, the Vancouver Sun noted protestors put up “dozens of tents” at the Trans Mountain pipeline protest site. Yet those same tents actually require petrochemical products to make the nylon and rain resistant coating.

For number nine, we turn to the protest in 2018 that saw activists using kayaks near the Trans Mountain site in B.C. Interestingly enough, many of those kayaks are made with plastics that come from petroleum products. Why didn’t the protestors buy wooden canoes or sit down for a few weeks and make wooden Huckleberry Finn rafts instead?

The cool sunglasses that protestors often wear are number eight on our list. Not only are the plastics in sunglasses often made with petroleum products, so too are the scratch resistant coatings that are applied. It’s surprising that activists haven’t switched to hats made from hemp to protect their eyes instead of those “dirty” oil-based sunglasses.

Coming in at number seven is cell phones. Yes, protestors, like almost everyone else in society, seem to love their smart phones. But not only are the moldings, power cords and many components in cell phones made with oil products, one has to ask how did they get to North America? Hint: ships that are powered with petroleum products.

Number six on our list is polyester, a fabric that is made with oil products. And what’s a protestor in a polyester track suit without a protest sign? Number five on our list is ink; another product that is made with petroleum products.

Similar to tents, backpacks are also made with nylon, another petroleum product. Couldn’t protestors simply choose to carry around fewer articles?

After a long hour of protesting, who doesn’t like a vape hit? You guessed it; the fluid used for vaping also contains petroleum products.

For number two we’re going to go out on a bit of a limb and assume that protestors are like most of us in society in that they too wear underwear. The elastics used to keep your tighty whities in place – yup, they’re made with petroleum products.

Finally, number one on our list is bicycles. From plastic brake parts, and grease for the gears to synthetic materials that help make the tires, bicycles are made with all kinds of petroleum products.

Clearly, it’s not so simple to just “keep oil in the ground” and ride your bike instead of driving or taking the bus.

And if you’re a protestor and this list is making your head pound, don’t take an aspirin. The headache pill contains benzene, another petroleum product.


Colin Craig is the president of, a new Canadian think tank

This column was published by Sun Newspapers on July 15, 2019.

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