IF YOU CAN VOLUNTEER and would like to do so, the National Audubon Society is training people to clean animals affected by the spill. (Note: Don’t try to help oiled animals with your bare hands if you are not a trained rescuer; it could harm you both. To report oiled wildlife, call the NAS hotline at 1-866-557-1401.)
You can also sign up to volunteer through the National Wildlife Federation – where organizers are looking for people to form an extensive volunteer wildlife surveillance network to track and report on the impacts of the oil spill, and support wildlife rescue and rehabilitation efforts.
The Sierra Club is also taking calls for volunteers, and offering helpful fact sheets and suggestions.
If you’d like to take a more local approach, here are some other organizations actively seeking volunteers – as well as the contact information they’ve listed on CNN (so I assume it’s recent and accurate, but I might be wrong):
The Alabama Coastal Foundation – collecting contact information from volunteers for cleanup efforts along the Alabama coast should the oil spill reach the state’s shores. Call 251-990-6002
The Mobile Bay National Estuary Program – looking for volunteers to help reduce the potential impact of the oil spill in Mobile Bay. Call 251-431-6409
The Mobile Baykeeper – asking for contact details of volunteers to respond anywhere along the Gulf Coast, if needed. Call 251-433-4229.
Save Our Seabirds – a Florida bird rescue group that is looking for support as its response team prepares to help oiled wildlife. Call 941-388-3010
The Greater New Orleans Foundation – has opened the Gulf Coast Oil Spill Fund, which will offer emergency grants to nonprofit organizations helping the victims of the oil spill, and address the long-term economic, environmental, and cultural effects of the disaster
The Coalition to Restore Coastal Louisiana – aims to help restore and protect a sustainable coastal Louisiana. They are accepting volunteers and support to assist with spill recovery efforts.
The Gulf Coast states which are most likely to be most affected have also set up websites to coordinate the impending need of volunteers and resources:
Mind you, not all of us are in a position to drop everything and rush down to the Gulf right this moment anyway — much as we might want to So, okay then. While staying home, what can we do?
Hold BP accountable — and furthermore insist that this ridiculous issue of a liability cap is unhinged, shattered, and its pieces thrown into the slick to die with everything else. Sell your BP stock, if you have any. Cancel your BP credit cards.
Write your senators (contact info for U.S. senators here); write your congresspeople (contact info for congress representatives available here) and tell them that this is unacceptable. Urge them to force BP to fully fund and support restoration efforts in all the affected areas, indefinitely.
While you’re at it, ping the White House and tell President Obama to put his foot down with regards to future offshore drilling projects. Helpfully suggest that everyone who ever chanted, “DRILL BABY, DRILL” be drafted for clean-up duty, in accordance with Bill Maher’s suggestion. (I know, not someone I imagined I’d find myself quoting. But there you go.)
While Obama has (quite rightly) suspended offshore lease sales, the pending Senate Climate Bill offers big fat incentives to states which open their coastlines to offshore drilling. Drop him a note and tell him how you feel about that.
The National Wildlife Federation will happily take your money to help with their clean-up efforts, and they even make it easy for you: Donate ten bucks by texting “Wildlife” to 20222
The Gulf Coast Fund – Not just collecting money to help with the clean-up efforts, but also distributing it – handing out emergency grants on a bi-weekly basis. From the site: “Special priority is given to organizations engaged in community-led responses focused on: building community capacity; independent monitoring and documentation; providing impacted communities with access to key information and decision-makers; and organizing and advocacy for communities most impacted by the disaster.” If you are in an area affected by the oil, you can apply to receive such a grant here.
Send your hair, your pet’s hair, your friends’ hair to Matter of Trust – From their site, “ALL salons, groomers, wool & alpaca fleece farmers, hairy individuals, & pet owners can sign up to donate hair, fur, fleece, feathers, nylons and funding… WE ARE ACCEPTING SIGN UPS AND DONORS ARE MAILING IN BOXES.” Click that link to find out where to send your donations — which will be made into oil-absorbing mats and blankets. Even if BP doesn’t want to use them, other organizations DO.
Consume less petroleum
I personally will begin my reduced petroleum consumption by avoiding BP and all its subsidiary brands, including Castrol, Arco, Aral, am/pm, Amoco, Wild Bean Cafe, and Safeway gas. I recognize that there’s a lot of kickback against a boycott, saying it won’t do any good; but if you want to chastise me over what I fully confess is largely a matter of principle, then I would like to draw your attention to a moving blob the size of Ireland, and made of poison.
I’m not saying this is rational, and let me be the first to admit that I’m flailing, here. After all, do you think I have warmer feelings for Exxon Mobil – undoubtedly one of the world’s great polluters? For Chevron – perpetrators of the Amazon Chernobyl? No. But this isn’t their mess (this time), and they aren’t the ones gloriously fucking up (right now).
There’s no winning this one. They’re all bastards.
All you can really do is make a commitment to use as little of their product as possible.
However, I have lived in rural America for much of my life, and I understand that not everyone can just quit driving and take up public transportation — or even necessarily choose which gas station to buy from when there’s only one or two in town. Obviously the ideal here is to look into hybrid technology — which I say as someone who can’t afford a hybrid car, so yeah, I know.
The next best thing is to carpool, and to organize trips so that you get more done in one large outing, rather than come-and-go in many small outings. Walk when you can, or ride a bike. And don’t forget: There’s more than one way to cut back on your petroleum consumption.
Consume less petroleum: Redux
Become an informed consumer. Take note of which products are made with petroleum, and do your best to avoid them when you can. Here’s a partial list. (Scroll down and be amazed.) Many of these things are available in more eco-friendly forms, made with glycerin or other vegetable byproducts instead of petroleum byproducts. Sometimes they cost a little more. Sometimes they don’t.
Tuesday, June 8, is World Ocean Day – and the Huffington Post has partnered with Meetup Everywhere, an application that allows you find others who also want to get involved and provides a forum for you to work together to help out with the oil spill. Click here to learn how to share your ideas.
And don’t hold back.
You can’t possibly suggest anything dumber than what’s been tried already.