One of the tragedies resulting from the BP Gulf fiasco is spreading across the United States.  Boycotts have spread across the web and in communities urging consumers not to buy any BP branding gasoline—including ARCO, which is a huge brand in California.

I admit my stomach turns whenever I see that BP logo.  And 20-plus years after the Exxon Valdez spill, I have a hard time buying Exxon- or Mobil- branded gas.

But participating in such a boycott misses the point.

In the end, by purportedly boycotting BP, you are hurting folks who are running these gas stations—and are already selling gas at thin margins anyhow.  Gas companies put the screws so tight on gas station operators that many of them turn to selling food, by which they make more money than from selling gasoline.  Gas station owners and franchisees are locked into long-term contracts, and BP so far has done little to help their franchisees deal with the lost sales resulting from boycotts.  Furthermore, there is no guarantee that buying gasoline from stations sporting different brands frees you from BP:  like other oil companies, they sell their products to other companies.  Buying gasoline from independent dealers or Costco is not necessarily freeing you from BP.

Do you really want to make a difference following the Deepwater Horizon disaster?  Reduce your use of plastic products:  if we are going to use oil, it should be for fuel, not those horrid plastic bags at the supermarket or encasing products in PET.  Drive less and wean yourself away from the car—maybe you’ll lose weight in the process.  And stop buying products that use conventionally grown corn:  the Gulf of Mexico has already been suffering from the increase of nitrates flowing down the Mississippi and into the Gulf, hurting wildlife and the fishing industry.

Swapping one gas company for another is myopic and misplaced – we need to sacrifice and make some changes to our lifestyle.  Of course, do not count on hearing that from our leaders anytime soon.

About The Author

Leon Kaye

Leon Kaye is the founder and editor of GreenGoPost.com. Based in California, he is a business writer and consultant. His work is has also appeared on Triple Pundit , The Guardian's Sustainable Business site and has appeared on Inhabitat and Earth911. His focus is making the business case for sustainability and corporate social responsibility. He's pictured here in Qatar, one of the Middle East countries in which he takes a keen interest because of its transformation into a post-oil economy. Other areas of interest include sustainable development in The Balkans, Brazil and Korea. He was a new media journalism fellow at the International Reporting Project, for which he covered child survival in India during February 2013. Contact him at leon@greengopost.com. You can also reach out via Twitter (@LeonKaye) and Instagram (GreenGoPost). As of October 2013, he now lives and works in Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates.