Things you can do about the oil spill

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.

16 thoughts on “Things you can do about the oil spill

  1. Thank you for this.

  2. Erin

    Thank you so much for posting this! I found it through a link one of my Twitter friends posted. You’re a great writer, and I’m planning on doing a couple of the things you suggest.


  3. Suzanne

    Your posts have been RT’d by a fellow Twitterer. Thank you for saying all the things I have not been able to put into words myself. The first vacation I can remember was in Gulf Shores, AL. I have spent all family vacations at least once yearly in the panhandle of Florida. My heart hurts. I am desperate for something to do so that other generations know our joy. Thank you for the information.

  4. Nicole D.

    Thank you! I am reading Boneshaker now. Loving it! Then I see this. Totally gave me a little glimmer of hope that I can do something about this disaster other than trying to avoid the photos showing how horrible it is. Conclusion: You are awesome.

  5. Zekenix

    Oil Spill upsetting you? Tell Tony Directly: Dr A.B Hayward, Rumshott Manor, Underriver, Sevenoaks, TN15 0RX — Tel: (01732) 463692

  6. Edith

    I don’t believe in the boycott. BP management sucks, but they employ a lot of little people who have no say in how the company is run. Boycotting BP will hurt them, too. I once worked for a large company which was tainted by ethical issues. A very small group was unethical, not the whole company. Yet because I worked for the company, I was also considered a cheat and liar.

    What totally pisses me off is that the EPA did not investigate this from day one (I think they’re still not investigating). They have the mandate, the authority under the Clean Water Act. AFAIK no subpoenas have been issued. All we have is Eric Holder grandstanding a MONTH after the leakage. There is political hanky panky going on behind the scenes to cover for BP. Sadly, Obama is almost as bad as Bush.

    Also, if you want to know who’s responsible for the spill, look in the mirror. Per capita, Americans are in the top 10 in electricity consumption as well as total energy consumption. I see only handful of people using cloth bags. It is rare to see anyone biking or walking anywhere. I see so much perfectly good stuff thrown in the trash, even recyclables, and the manufacture of all of it involves petroleum (excellent list – thanks for linking).

  7. Amy Bliss

    I agree that the boycott will not generally help more than it will hurt. The small businesses who are already struggling could be put in further trouble because of a boycott when they have nothing to do with the oil spill. Boycott BP in the form of stock sell offs, etc. But don’t hurt the little guy in the already struggling economy.

    Write senators, do what you can to donate time, money, hair, etc…

  8. Now that I’m home and on my laptop (and not just my phone) here’s the link I tried to tweet but am pretty sure I got wrong.

    Sign up, pass the word – get lots of great ideas for doing better. Every little step helps!

  9. Gail

    People are oblivious to what is actually happening here.They are more into the Stanley Cup than the life of this planet.This is destroying the ecosystem and it will affect every living life form on this planet.You have chunks of plastic floating in the ocean the size of Texas and now you oil running as far as Florida.You need to get your priorities straight.Sorry but President Obama should have been on the scene the minute this happened.Tony Hayward is acting as if he spilt milk.You can fly to the moon but you can’t stop this oil that is destroying this planet.Greed is what is destroying this planet and you think he be concerned considering he lives on Earth as well.No,he just wants to get on with his life.DIGUSTING!

  10. Neil

    This is an excellent information resource, thank you for posting.

  11. Cherie,

    I’m a friend of Ellen Milne’s, and I’d love it if you would give me permission to repost this (with full credit to you, and a link, of course) on the California NOW blog. This is the most complete list I’ve seen of things people can actually do to help.

  12. Feel free to crosspost/repost/whatever. I compiled the info in an attempt to be helpful, not to hoard the info :)

  13. lisa

    thank you so much for this!

    I wrote President Obama. both of my Senators and my local congressman.
    Off to write Joe Biden & Hillary Clinton now.

  14. I went more than this web site and I believe you’ve a lot of amazing data, saved to favorites (:.

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