>Should I boycott BP on the basis of the massive disaster in the Gulf of Mexico?
It’s harder than it sounds. I’ve had a BP credit card for years – decades, really. It’s a great convenience to travel with a gas card. I know where the BP stations are along my usual routes, including the drive to and from La Petite’s college town. Pay at the pump, use the rest rooms, and then get back on the road quickly and efficiently.
But now that BP is responsible for a terrible environmental disaster, should I cut up this card, cancel the account, and then shop for gas elsewhere? Or not?
I’m leaning toward not. It’s not about convenience; I can use my MasterCard or my Visa at any gas station or pay cash, too. In fact, this decision is less about me and more about impact. Boycotts are all about economic impact: hitting a company in its wallet, where it hurts the most.
If I decide to boycott BP stations in my town and my state, the company itself won’t even feel a blip on its dollar sign radar. The people who would suffer from a boycott would be the franchisees, those who own the local and regional stations and convenience stores. Those local people suffer when the economy worsens. Any resentment I harbor toward BP is not with local station owners. I don’t want them to suffer.
It’s not the locals who caused this massive disaster and let it grow, failing to cap the flow at every turn. It’s not the station owners who found themselves scrambling to find solutions after the fact rather than planning ahead and installing real, functional solutions to their rigs in case of emergencies.
It’s not the locals who failed, who lost my trust.
A personal boycott will not hit the people at the top. They won’t even feel a tickle. In fact, even a nationwide boycott by concerned environmentalists wouldn’t have a significant impact on the decision-makers at BP.
If my goal is to make an impact, I would do better to lower my dependence on oil over all. It’s time to drive less and use fewer petroleum products such as plastics. If I’m planning a long trip, I can offset my fuel use by leaving the car in the garage for several days in advance. I can consider a hybrid or electric vehicle when we replace Chuck’s Saturn or my minivan. I can walk, use a bicycle, or take public transportation. My personal impact will still be small, but the inspiration could spread.
What do you think, readers? How can you lower your petroleum use, cutting your contribution to our society’s oil dependence? How can I?