Gulf Oil Spill Crisis: 10 Ways You Can Lend A Hand

It’s been over seven weeks, and residents of the Gulf Coast are struggling to survive as crude oil washes up on their beaches, killing birds and marine life, and filling the air with toxic fumes.

Reports of media blackouts, and less-than-accurate estimates about spill size and impact continue; just listen to this interview with documentary film maker James Fox:

Even if you can’t physically make it to the Gulf to lend a hand, here are 10 important ways you can make a difference to those who are on the ground fighting to keep up with this tragedy:

1. Boycott BP

Yes, this catastrophe could have happened to any petroleum company, but no matter which corporation is ultimately at fault, consumers MUST communicate their disapproval with the most powerful weapon they have: their pocketbooks. BP brands to avoid include Castrol, Arco, Aral, am/pm, Amoco, Wild Bean Cafe, and Safeway gas. For more news on the boycott already in progress, visit the Boycott BP page on Facebook.

2. Tell the Government, “Enough is enough!”

The only way to help prevent future disasters it to let our politicians know that off-shore oil drilling is dangerous, and we want it to stop. Sign the Care2 petition telling President Obama to reconsider his plan to expand offshore drilling and invest in clean energy resources instead. It’s always powerful to contact your representatives directly, too. Help Oceana reach its goal to gather 500,000 names on a petition to stop offshore drilling permanently.

3. Shave Your Head

Ok, maybe just trimming off a few inches is enough. Matter of Trust, an ecological charity based in San Francisco, has a hair mat, oil-spill program that uses human hair to produce super-absorbent mats that can be used to clean up messes including oil spills (pet hair works too!).

Since putting out the call for hair to help soak up the BP oil spill, Matter of Trust has collected 400,000 pounds of hair and sent it to addresses along the Gulf Coast, but more is always needed.

4. Purchase Dawn Dishwashing Detergent

If you remember the tragic 1989 Exxon Valdez oil spill of 1989 you likely remember that the chemical composition of Dawn detergent makes it perfect for animal rescue. Purchasing a bottle or two of Dawn dishwashing liquid at your local grocery store gives you two ways to help: a) you can enter the bottle’s activation code at triggering a $1 donation to wildlife conservation efforts from the Marine Mammal Center and the International Bird Rescue Research Center, and b) you can donate your bottle of Dawn directly to the Gulf clean-up efforts through the Facebook page Help Us Help the Gulf Wildlife.

5. Donate Essential Supplies For Volunteers

Suncoast Seabird Sanctuary, which was a significant workforce in the disastrous Tampa Bay 1993 oil spill and has experienced avian care professionals on-staff desperately needs donations of kennels, towels, gas gift cards, paper towels, and bottled water to assist their avian hospital in treating and rehabilitating wildlife that has been affected by the oil spill.

6. Support Those Saving The Wildlife

The National Wildlife Federation has set up mobile giving services to support their work in the Gulf Coast. Donors can send a text message with the code “WILDLIFE” to 20222 to automatically give a $10 donation to help wildlife affected by the oil spill.

The International Bird Rescue Research Center (IBRRC) lets you support the 16 members of their Oil Spill Response Team, as well as other non-profit organizations working in the region, by “donating, becoming a member or adopting a bird.”

7. Become A Hero

Sign up with The National Audubon Society to get trained and volunteer to help local birds.

Register through to volunteer or join a cleanup organization.

Volunteer with Global Green, an organization that plans to spend the coming months working to protect injured wildlife and lobbying Congress to enforce tougher regulations on the oil and coal industries.

8. Save A Fisherman

The mission of the Gulf Relief Foundation is to provide relief to the fishing community of the Gulf Coast and their families, and to address the long-term challenge of restoring and protecting America’s coastal wetlands.

Text “GULFAID 10″ to 27138 to donate $10 to Gulf Aid. Replace “10″ with the number of US dollars (no $ sign) you’d like to pledge, donate as little or as much as you like. You can also visit Faux Pas Prints for the latest official merchandise. Portions of the proceeds go to the Gulf Relief Foundation.

9. Join Hands

Begun in Florida, Hands Across the Sand is an international movement concerned with protection of our coastal economies, oceans, marine wildlife, fishing industry and coastal military missions. Cities all across the world are pledging to stage peaceful demonstrations on June 26th during which thousands of people will join hands to convey a simple, yet powerful message: NO to Offshore Oil Drilling, YES to Clean Energy. Learn more about how to organize or join an event in your area.

10. Get Connected and Inspired

Join the Facebook group 1 Million Strong Against Offshore Drilling. Check out the action page for more suggestions of how to lend your voice to the anti-drilling movement.

Find full Care2 Coverage of the Spill here.

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yvonne garcia rice
Past Member 2 years ago

Great article -- thank you.

carlee trent
carlee trent7 years ago


Danuta W.
Danuta W7 years ago

Thanks for posting this great article

Robert O.
Robert O7 years ago

Thanks Beth!

Dana W.
Dana W7 years ago

Thank you for this article.

Dana W.
Dana W7 years ago

Thank you for this article.

Dana W.
Dana W7 years ago

Thank you for this article.

Monique D.
Mon D7 years ago

Thanks. I bought dawn dish soap the other day so I can help. I won't buy from BP ever again.

Care For A.
Past Member 8 years ago

Thank you for your post.

A picture is worth a thousand words.

BP is restricting photography of the spill. See:

Not willing to give into the notion of doing nothing, the Center for a Better South has launched a new project to shine a different light on what’s happening in the Gulf. The center, a pragmatic nonpartisan policy think tank, has started a collaborative photo blog — — to pair vivid images of what the spill means to people with their stories and perspectives.

Please encourage everyone to send photos of the spill to:

Take a look at this website, Gulf Spill Clips, for daily news spotlights on what's happening in the Gulf States:

Send photos to: Together we can show and document the truth.

Patt Tashjian
Patt Tashjian8 years ago

Thanks Beth for the great information. If every lady would ask their hairdresser to save the clean hair cut at their salon and pick it up weekly, sending it off to "Matter of Trust" San Francisco, Ca.this would be even a quicker way to help. You could bring your hairdresser a green bag to save it in and maybe the other hairdressers would donate their clients hair when cut. Come on ladies, we can do this!!!