You’re Not Fooling Me, BP

By Sarah Baulac, Education and Research Intern

I needed a post-winter break vacation vacation. (It’s a real thing) So, I packed up and spent the weekend in The Big Easy- New Orleans, Louisiana.

Between beignets in Jackson Square, I visited the Audubon Aquarium of the Americas. After visiting Ernie- the 35-year-old penguin- and his friends, I continued on to the Gulf of Mexico exhibit. Here’s where things get a little weird…


Are you kidding me? Really?

I was baffled. Was the “Gulf of Mexico” exhibit really sponsored by BP, Shell, Chevron, and Exxon? Yeah, so a quick Google Search of conservation efforts will bring up a façade of donations and partnerships that these big companies invest in to save the earth. But, I’m not buying it.

Shall we recap?

In April 2011, a BP wellhead spilled 205 million gallons of oil in the Gulf of Mexico. According to over 8,000 animals were found dead within 6 months of the initial explosion. All of this damage affected Louisiana, Florida, Mississippi, Texas, and Alabama coasts. I could go on, but the point is that the damage is astronomical and this was the largest oil spill seen by the U.S. Court litigation is ongoing. Cleanup efforts are still underway and the damage may never be fully reversed. Sponsoring an exhibit at the aquarium will never make up for the wreckage.

As much as I would like to only blame BP for this mess, we’re the culprits too. Our behaviors and consumption habits are huge signals to the market. We were asking for the oil that BP was pumping.

The good news is that we can change. We can tell BP and the rest of Big Oil that we’re no longer interested.

Here are some tips on how to reduce your oil consumption and move on from Big Oil:

  • Walk or Bike– This is the most obvious change, but it’s worth thinking about.  Do you really need to drive to that appointment? Look for opportunities in your schedule to incorporate oil-less transportation methods.  Better yet, make opportunities for change.
  • Buy Local– Less shipping and moving, less oil.
  • Use Reusable Bags– Hawaii has already banned businesses from providing plastic bags (ie for groceries).
  • Turn Down the Heat–  Even if it’s just by one or two degrees. You can easily compensate with an extra hat or sweater.

The most important aspect to making an impact is evaluating your current habits and making a commitment to do them better, greener. Together, we can tell BP and the rest of Big Oil that we’re not buying it.

As a reward for reading this far, here’s a picture of sweet Ernie.



4 thoughts on “You’re Not Fooling Me, BP

  1. Wonderful post! Greenwashing = disinformation disseminated by an organization so as to present an environmentally responsible public image… and this is what Big Oil does, as well as use financial support in Washington to further their political agenda. But I couldn’t agree more that it is up to us to change our everyday behaviors to fight the influence that the Big Oil currently has in the United States today.

  2. Great post! I love the tips at the end to help us make change happen! It’s good to see the blame being shared between the oil companies and ourselves. We are often so eager to pass off the blame for things like this without considering the role we played in making it happen,

  3. First of all, it was awesome running into you down in NOLA! 🙂 I think this post does a good job of addressing energy consumption and how often things like this might be able to fool an individual who is misinformed or even not informed at all. I remember when the oil spill in the Gulf happened and it didn’t even seem as if enough information on the incident was available; it trickled in much too slowly I thought! (PS Seattle doesn’t use plastic bags anymore, either 🙂 )

  4. Don’t forget about looking into personal divestment from fossil fuel companies as you start looking into investing money later on. This is especially important when you consider things like the carbon bubble down the road.

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