I was 16 years old and had recently gotten my first driver's license when the Exxon Valdez ran aground off the Alaskan coast. I clearly remember at the time making a conscious decision with my friends to boycott Exxon gas stations in an (ultimately inconsequential) stand against the fact that they didn't screen out their alcoholic captains. No question there was no small degree of pack mentality in play...we were 16 after all. But it ended up being a boycott that lasted many years. And it wasn't just my circle of friends. Throughout college and beyond, I'd often meet people who had similarly boycotted (or were still boycotting) Exxon. My own personal stand lasted for over a decade, and on countless roadtrips I would skip exits (sometimes when I was driving on fumes) when my only gas option was Exxon (often picking BP instead). And even now when I have to gas up my car once a month and use Exxon (it's the only gas station in my neighborhood and driving extra to buy gas is IMHO the greater evil) I think about The Valdez and Alaska.
Though the current ecological nightmare in the Gulf is not to Valdez levels (yet) and not even close to the 10 worst spills globally, I wonder if people will similarly boycott BP now? More to the point, in 1989 alternative energy was necessary but not en vogue. Is it possible that this environmental front page story will actually drive people to do more to boycott all fossil fuels?
Not sure I can go that far yet, but at the very least the next time I'm out on the open road I guess I have a new brand to drive past while running on fumes.
How about you? Weigh in with a comment or two below.