GULF OF MEXICO: WHAT YOU CAN DO.
Here’s a way to add some MORE salt to the wound: From what we can figure out, it’s difficult to utilize volunteers for things like oil spills. Because these things are highly toxic, you need special training – AND special gear/clothing – even for shoveling a beach.
That being said, volunteering is still possible, just not directly or just yet.
SO. What can you do?
IF you live on a coast that HAS NOT been hit yet – but might be – take some preliminary data! Take pictures! Write things down! Take note of what is there – so we know what we lose and can ask for it back!
And – SIGN UP TO BEACH CLEAN AHEAD OF TIME: that is, beach clean-up PRIOR (yes I said prior) to the oil. Oil on trash is much more difficult to clean up than just oil alone!
Send the following supplies: paper towels, tissues, heating pads (not auto shut-off), towels, heat lamps, trash bags and freezer Ziplocs.
See above links for where to send!
ALSO – hair and nylons are important for clean-up! Donate here as well!
FOR ALL OF THE ABOVE: Gulf of Mexico Sea Grant
WHAT NOT TO DO:
Do NOT try to clean up oil by yourself! This, along with the dispersant used, are VERY VERY TOXIC – both to the touch and if you simply breathe them in!
But, of course, this is bigger than just trying to clean up after the fact. This would not have happened if there wasn’t a great demand for oil already. If we were not already addicted to oil and without many alternatives.
DRIVE LESS. WALK MORE. LEARN TO RIDE A BIKE IN TRAFFIC (seems scarier than it is – I know!). TAKE THE BUS/SUBWAY/TRAIN. CARPOOL.
However. It’s even bigger than that. This country uses oil in far more than just your car’s gas tank. It is the things we consume. It is the fact that we want everything in one place. It is in the packaging we throw away.
It is even in the food we eat (Please read this fantastic article that changed my life.)
It’s not just about trying to drive less – which is something that is difficult for many of us (because biking in traffic CAN BE scary, because we don’t HAVE public transportation in this country).
In fact, if you take a look at your daily life, beyond your car, you can do much more to help stop our addiction to oil.
WHAT ELSE YOU CAN DO – TODAY AND TOMORROW.
Go vegetarian – or eat less meat : More oil is used in supporting large agriculture (to feed cows) and the meat industry than in our cars.
Go local – and get to eat meat: oil is still overwhelmingly used in big agriculture – plus meat substitutes like tofu are often highly processed and shipped great distances.
Avoid processed foods as these use more energy to make!
REDUCE. REUSE. Recycle. COMPOST. Avoid packaging in general: Eating local has other positives – no layers of plastic! Often returnable glass bottles! Bring your own bags!
Think about where you SHOP! : Support companies that do good work (GREAT LITTLE BOOK ON THIS for $10)! Avoid shipping! Buy things that last!
Support energy alternatives:
Write to your congressmen (for your Representative).
Call your energy companies and ask if they offer clean energy alternatives/support and ask for a review of your home to see where you can cut down on energy use.
Donate to clean energy companies (like Native Energy).
Offset your carbon emissions (Native Energy also does this!)
Reduce your energy use: Unplug unused appliances. Turn off your computer at the end of the day or when you’re done. Don’t leave your car running.
REDUCE your own consumerism. DON’T feel the need to buy new things all the time. Who cares what the next best thing is – if it ain’t broke, keep using it.
These are just a few suggestions! Feel free to post more! And ask me if you want additional information!
I think the bottom line is…
GET OUT OF YOUR COMFORT ZONE.
DO THE THINGS THAT ARE KIND OF A PAIN.
THINK about the things you do, the things you consume, the things you throw away.
MAKE AN EFFORT.
I KNOW riding the bus isn’t always convenient. I KNOW things cost more at the farmer’s market – but you know what? My student stipend as a graduate student was $20,000. That is ALL the money I had in a year (minus $850/month for rent). Period. If I can pull off the eat-local-and-pay-for-it thing, SO CAN YOU.
Look – I realize we can’t do everything, but we could be doing a whole lot more.
IN ADDITION. This time around…
Let’s NOT forget. Let’s make sure THIS time… a disaster like this makes a DIFFERENCE for the future.
Stop complaining. Stop lecturing. Stop blaming.
START WALKING THE WALK.