Stop Blaming BP: 10 Things You Can Do to Help Clean Up the Gulf Oil Spill


gulf oil spillLooking for someone to blame about the devastating oil spill in the Gulf? Sure you can blame BP (it is the company's fault after all) and you can blame President Obama too (even Jon Stewart has been doing more than his fair share of that). But while you're at it, you should take a good, long look in your rear-view mirror.

The United States is the largest consumer of oil on the planet. Americans burn 378 million gallons of gasoline a day, according to the U.S. Energy Information Agency. Our collective oil addiction makes us as much to blame for this mess as anyone. (And even if you disagree with that, you surely agree that something needs to be done -- and soon.)

So instead of pointing fingers, take some responsibility and put your energy (pun intended) into something else.

Here, some ideas.

1. Admit you have a problem. That's the first step in any addict's recovery. Repeat after me: My name is ____ (fill in the blank), and I am an oil addict. Then get on the road to recovery (preferably in a hybrid).

  • Stop driving. Carpool, ride a bike, use public transportation, and walk when you can. No excuses. Just do it.
  • Use alternate sources of energy. Think wind and solar power, and try alternate home-heating solutions (a wood-burning furnace can save you oil -- and money). Or talk to your local utility company. Many power providers offer green energy sources as an option on your bill. Visit the Environmental Protection Agency's (EPA) Green Power Locator to see what options are available to you.
  • Lighten your carbon footprint. Use the EPA's Household Emissions Calculator to estimate your family's greenhouse gas emissions and find out how to cut back.


2. Hold someone's hand at the beach. Hands Across the Sand is holding a national day of action on Saturday, June 26, to clean up America's energy and call on President Obama to get the U.S. off oil in 20 years. People in more than 500 communities across the globe will join hands at 11 a.m. to create a line in the sand against offshore drilling. To find or organize an event in your community, visit Hands Across the Sand.


3. Tune in to Larry King. Tonight (June 21), CNN will be airing a two-hour telethon: "Disaster in the Gulf: How You Can Help." The telethon will feature celebrities like Chelsea Handler, Tim McGraw, Lenny Kravitz, Pete Wentz, Jenny McCarthy, and many more. You can choose between three charities that you'd like to help -- the money raised will go to aid in rebuilding the Gulf Coast.


4. Report oiled wildlife and oil damage. If you live (or you're vacationing or volunteering) along the Gulf Coast and you see wildlife in need of rescue or you notice oil damage to the environment, report it. You can do so online at Deepwater Horizon Response or by phone 866-557-1401 (for oiled wildlife), 800-440-0858 (for oil damage), or 866-448-5816 (for affected shorelines).


5. Don't boycott BP gas stations. On second thought, ... No one is happy with BP (Tony Hayward is probably wishing he never accepted a job there -- though that didn't stop him from attending a yacht race this weekend), but refusing to buy gas at its service stations might actually be putting more money into the company's pockets.

  • According to The Consumerist, your corner BP station is but a licensed franchise owned by a local businessman, and the fuel that comes out of the pumps may be from a totally different company, so you might only be hurting the independent dealer.
  • So if you opt for a supermarket gas station (such as Castrol, Arco, Aral, am/pm, Amoco, Wild Bean Cafe, and Safeway), it could be a wholly owned BP subsidiary in which case BP gets all the cash. (You can join the Facebook group Boycott BP for more info on what places to boycott.)
  • If you do decide to boycott BP, some say it will simply be a political statement (and there's nothing wrong with that), but others, like Ryan Chittum at The Audit, believe that boycotting BP will make a dent on its returns. Let's hope.


6. Don't cut your hair (or your pet's). While everyone who's been snipping their hair and grooming their pets for the cause has their heart in the right place, BP and the U.S. Coast Guard say they're not using hair to contain the oil spill -- and they don't plan to (they're using sorbent boom, which they have aplenty). Organizations who have been collecting hair, such as Matter of Trust, have been asked to stop doing so.


7. Plant a flag. Go to Let's Move Beyond Oil to plant a virtual flag and on July 4. The organization will plant real flags in front of Washington Monument that spell out "Freedom From Oil" so that Congress and the White House are sure to see what the American people want.


8. Volunteer. Many organizations in the Gulf of Mexico are looking for helping hands. Here are but a few.

  • The Audubon Society has launched the National Oil Spill Volunteer Response Center, which has lots of information on ways to get involved.
  • eBird, an online birding resource that tracks the health of bird populations, needs volunteers to help survey Gulf Coast bird populations.
  • In Louisiana, LA Gulf Response is coordinating volunteers to assist in local, state, and federal recovery efforts. 
  • In Alabama, the Alabama Coastal Foundation wants volunteers for cleanup efforts along the Alabama coast if the oil spill reaches that state's shores.
  • In Florida, Save Our Seabirds is a bird rescue group looking for support to help oiled wildlife.


9. Adopt a bird. At the International Bird Rescue Research Center, you can "adopt" a duck for $25 or an egret for $50; the birds will be cleaned and rehabilitated.

10. Text don't talk. Put your money where your mouth is. Every time you play the blame game and say (or write in a comment somewhere -- wink, wink) "BP" or "Obama" or "Tony Hayward," put a dollar in a jar. (Or set aside all that money you've been saving on gas because you've been walking, carpooling, or using public transportation.) At the end of the month give it to some people who are actually making things happen:

  • Text the word "NWF" to 20222 to donate $10 to the National Wildlife Federation through your phone bill.
  • Donate to the United Way's Gulf Recovery Fund by going to its website or text the word "United" to 50555 to donate $10 from your mobile phone.
  • The Nature Conservancy Fund for Gulf Coast Restoration wants to re-establish critical habitats (marshes, seagrass beds, oyster reefs, and coastal wetlands). Text the word "coast" to 50555 to donate $10 through your mobile phone.


What have you done to help with the Gulf oil spill disaster? What will you do?


Image via Deepwater Horizon Response/Flickr



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nonmember avatar icare

Great tips. We should all do our part ... even if it means watching Larry King. :)

CjsMa... CjsMama914

I had no idea my electric company had a program to support greener energy sources. I'm enrolling next month!

nonmember avatar therese davis

Very good article with very wise suggestions on how to help....BUT.

Boycotting BP   WILL  have an effect.  BP is a heartless, soulless entity that ONLY understands M O N E Y. When they see that sales are down?  They will finally get the message that they did a VERY horrendous thing to the earth's environment.  At least, one can hope they will.

Oh.  If your headline were different?  I would have shared this on my facebook.... but I already STRONGLY advocate boycotting BP. ... no deal.

nonmember avatar Angelina Moore

What a bunch of liberal hooha!  Sure, we should all try to do what we can to be greener.  But really, we are not addicted to oil.  We have to have it to live life as we know it.  Until something else is invented that works as well....and can be used to make all of the things that come from petrolium besides gasoline.....we have to have oil.  And I live in Florida on one of the beaches with the oil so I'm not a disinterested observer. 

nonmember avatar Christie Weller

I think to say stop blaming BP is really taking away a very real and tangible thing from people who are destroyed and grieving. BP is ultimately responsible. There are criminal charges, calculated negligence ending in 11 deaths (!!!!), a murdered gulf, a destroyed way of life for so many gulf residents. I really challenge that statement, IT is truly insensitive. Also it is naive to say we are not addicted to oil. We use our cars without thought. We buy plastics and things made with petroleum products. We need to research what we use and send a message with our decisions to help our earth and stop corrupt corporations. YES CORRUPT, with mounting criminal charges. To defend bP and out of control use of oil is greed. So many in their pocket.

Cafe... Cafe Suzanne

Therese, of course BP is to blame! But many people are just sitting around blaming and not doing a thing. The headline was meant to get those people's attention. I also advocate boycotting BP -- see #5 (even though some people think it won't matter). It's kind of short-sighted not to share all these tips with everyone you know since the point is to help with the devastation in the Gulf. We should all help in whatever way we can and not get caught up in who's at fault or semantics. We KNOW who's to blame. Now let's move on. I encourage you to share away! I think our oceans and our planet are far more important than being a little miffed at a headline which was meant to get your attention (and did).

nonmember avatar Christie Weller

There is a group Boycott BP on Facebook. It was started by a gulf resident and he has been devastated. New Orleans  has been hit again. It is more than just a boycott. Lively discussion for sure...listing many news articles from all over the world, you become very educated on the spill. Also, support, a lot of places to donate and volunteer if you like. You find concerned kindred spirits there.  Check it out if you like. 

nonmember avatar oilfix

Not addicted?  But we have to have it to lead life as we know it?  Who's in denial?  10,000 years of settled human civilization without fossil fuels but now can't live our blessed american lifestyle without it?  Soon enough ANWAR will be gone.  Gulf coast beaches and fishermen - gone.  Low-lying coastal areas - gone.  How low does the junkie have to go to realize they have a problem?  We've got a long way to go before we wake up in the gutter with scabby tracks on our arms, but we're on our way down and frantically denying what is happening to our blessed way of life.  400 million years of accumulated dead plants and animals turned into oil are burned up in less than a century and a half of blessed self indulgence.  The junkie's trust fund is almost gone.  Arrest the dealer, but it's really a demand problem.

nonmember avatar leigh

All you people who are "screaming" about BP are missing the point of the article entirely. You're so caught up in the game you're doing exactly what writer is talking about. We know BP is to blame. Stop screaming and start helping. Your comments here deserve at least one text donation each! :)

lovin... lovinangels

hmmm, I still believe in holding our elected officials accountable. And that includes Obama on his multiple vacations and golf outings. I know momma's that are too busy  to take in 9 holes, much less 18. I find him detached and unconcerned and generally, well, useless. We pay him to be concerned. I'm not saying he should be working 24/7 but to take not one but two vacations while Jindall begged for help and other countries have offered dozens of solutions that are "awaiting approval" Well, it's unforgivable.


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