When you see photos and videos of the horrific damage to the Gulf Coast waters and marine life caused by the Deepwater Horizon oil spill, it’s tempting to pack everything up and volunteer to clean beaches or clean off oil-soaked animals. But you can’t leave your home, family, or job at a moment’s notice—and besides, most of the volunteer positions require special certifications that you probably don’t have.
So how can you help Gulf Coast victims of the oil spill from the comfort of your own home? Here are a few ideas.
Donate. If you can’t physically aid the clean-up efforts, your dollars will help in your absence. Great non-profits who could use your contribution include the National Wildlife Federation, which is helping injured animals in the Gulf Coast region; the Gulf Coast Oil Spill Fund from the Greater New Orleans Foundation, which provides help to fishermen who have lost their jobs; and Defenders of Wildlife, which is advocating for better environmental policies in government to prevent such disasters from happening in the future.
Hold a fundraiser. If your birthday or another special event is coming up, ask for donations to fund the oil spill clean-up effort instead of presents. Services like Razoo, FirstGiving, and Crowdrise provide free online platforms to help you raise funds for any US-based non-profit group.
Submit your own idea for how to stop the leak or clean up the spill. Do you have a background in science and a great idea for containing the spill? BP wants to hear it. Send your suggestion to this site, or call the hotline at (281) 366-5511. All of the ideas are reviewed, and the ones that seem feasible will be tested and potentially used in the clean-up efforts.
Convince your local salons and dog groomers to donate hair to Matter of Trust. A non-profit group called Matter of Trust is collecting human and animal hair, which can be used to soak up oil in booms. Spread the word about their efforts with local businesses.
Send a political action message to the White House requesting more aid for the Gulf Coast. The National Wildlife Federation has a form letter available here.
Become a virtual volunteer. Do you have skills in fundraising, design, grantwriting, or public relations, and a bit of extra time on your hands? Then you can help Gulf Coast victims from home by becoming a virtual volunteer for a non-profit involved with rescue efforts. Visit Idealist.org to find opportunities, or ask the non-profit of your choice directly if there’s a way that you can help.
Reduce dependence on oil in your own community. We’ll be honest, there’s no way a single person can curb our country’s overreliance on oil. But every little bit helps. Do your part by riding a bicycle to get around when possible, buying local foods and locally made products, and spreading the word about how to live a more sustainable life. Check out this post on Planet Green for some great tips for getting off oil.