Don't Buy from Exxon Mobil, Instead Try...

by - Thursday, January 12, 2017

exxon station don't buy

This week, Rex Tillerson has been going through his confirmation hearings for Secretary of State. As an environmentalist (even a beginner's level one), his appointment has seemed pretty concerning to me. We all know, at least in theory, that these gas barons are not good guys. You don't make that kind of money and cause the amount of trouble they do when you are a kind caring person.

I was even more concerned when I saw just how much ,money Exxon gave to the Republicans and one Democrat on his hearing committee. Who is going to turn him down if they are all getting paid? This is a bad sign and so scary for democracy.

That being said, I was encouraged that the Office of Ethics actually used him as a positive example for completely divesting from Exxon (potentially giving up some massive unthinkable amount of money), so I thought I would give him a chance.

So I started reading about Exxon Mobil to do my research and wow. Just wow.

Exxon Mobil, like Nestle, is cartoonishly, almost ridiculously evil in their greed.

Since the 1980's, they have been a leader in Climate Change denial, and they founded and lead the Global Climate Coalition (nice name, right?) that opposed any regulation on greenhouse gas emission. They are currently under investigation for intentionally misleading investors and consumers about the dangers of climate change. This study looks specifically at their tactics, borrowed from the tobacco industry.

The company is one of the largest in the world (8th, 5th publicly traded), volleying for the top spot with those other winners, The Waltons. Exxon Mobil is the largest refiner in the world (it has been since it was Standard Oil in the 1870's) and is the largest of the Big Oil companies. When someone talks about Big Oil. This is what they mean.

In 1989, Exxon received harsh criticism for their extremely slow clean up of one of the hugest oil spills of all time- the Valdez oil spill. They have spent oodles of money pumping false information into the public to try to create disbelief around our consumption's connections to the change in climate. They now, in theory, support a Carbon Tax, but they continue to lobby against it and basically anything that could potentially help the environment.

The whole story is here, but if you want a less partisan read you can check here or here as well. Exxon has known the damage burning fossil fuels was doing since the 70's. By the 90's, Exxon executives knew that fossil fuels were responsible for rising sea levels. And rather than taking action or investing in greener practices, they put at least 16 million dollars toward discrediting scientists whose findings would cut into their profits.

Tillerson did, on the other hand, stand up to a fracking water tower. Near his own house in Texas.

Tillerson (once an Eagle Scout for goodness sake) took over as CEO in 2006. Since his time at the helm, Exxon Mobil's subsidiaries has made the now infamous deals with Sudan, Syria, and Iran, despite their sanctions. Tillerson tried to minimize this issue in his hearings, but the proof has since been published. Overlooking these countries' sanctions to make more money says a lot about the ethics of this company. Tillerson's deep ties to Russia (Putin gave him an Award of Friendship for goodness sake) makes him a very problematic choice for our country. but the way this company is run and the intentional deception and destruction make them a bad choice for everyone, no matter their politics.

Not enough? Exxonmobil takes about 1 billion a year in subsidies. How is that even possible? These guys are swimming in greed.

They also have been in hot water for multiple human rights violations in Indonesia, where they allegedly knowingly assisted human rights violations including murder and rape (by using military groups as security for their extraction sites) . This court case has been in and out, but you can read about it here.

 Again, I don't care who you voted for or what party you belong to, this kind of behavior (from the 1% Party. They should just have their own political grouping) couldn't possibly be consistent with your values.

Tillerson said "The world is going to have to keep using fossil fuels, whether they like it or not" and to some extent, he isn't wrong (at least for now). But the alarming rate in which we use them isn't sustainable, and though it may line his pockets, eventually Climate Change denial will not save us from running out and polluting the planet.

We all have an addiction to fossil fuels and Big Oil like Exxon Mobil literally fuels and enables that addiction. If we are going to criticize their actions, we also have to look at our own and see that a constant drive for OUR money keeps them going. If we want them to change, we have to change as well. You don't have to be a hardcore enviornmentalist to slow your consumption of fossil fuels, stop giving Exxon Mobil your money, and change the world.

 You just have to self-assess and reprioritize where you are overusing gasoline and other fossil fuel products. It may not be as hard as you think to change.

So, sign that petition. Write your congressman. Protest their mistreatment of other human beings and their flagrant lying about the climate (and their role in that). All these actions are so important, but we also need to stop giving Exxon and their cronies our money. We can't simultaneously wag our finger and give them our money and still expect them to change their ways.

Maybe Rex isn't on the payroll right now, but we need to clearly send the message to big environment-destroying companies that grabbing at government power has big financial consequences. And that takes commitment, because part of what gets these companies so loaded is their commitment to wiping out competition.

Unlike most of our other "Don't Buy" subjects, ExxonMobil doesn't have an easy substitute. I am not about to point to that one gem of a gas company that is totally environmentally conscious or ethical on any stage. There is no great gas company. But just because we can't find an option that's great doesn't mean we shouldn't think critically about our choices. So I still have some ideas.

So, here are my best ideas of how to avoid Exxon Mobil's giant umbrella.

Buy Less Gas

The average American household spends around 2,000 dollars a year at the pump. If everyone who is unsatisfied with Exxon Mobil's new central position in our government made sure to take that money away from them, that could cost them billion of dollars in revenue. Billions.

 It's time to figure out how to be less dependent on our cars. Walk, take the bus, carpool. We all want to do those things more for the environment, or we have thought about it to save money, but that little loss in convenience keeps us from going for it. Now is the time. You don't have to carpool forever, but consider doing it for one year. Maybe start on January 20th? Just an idea, but no matter your politics, it is time to stop being so car-dependent.

In rural areas, driving less feels like less of a possibility, but you really can do it. Even if your commute is shorter, a carpool might still make sense. Or consider putting your kids on the bus even if they are car-driving age. Or choose the school/restaurant/event that is closer by. You don't have to go nowhere, but really consider if you can shave miles off your speedometer on a weekly basis.

Buy Less, Buy Used, Buy Local

It's not just about how you travel, it's about how your stuff travels. Because fossil fuels are used just as much for shipping, how you buy for everything on your list (not just your gas) can chip a little bit of money away from Exxon. If you buy clothing from China or Europe, it has traveled a long way. If you buy your fruit out of season from far away, you have used a lot of gasoline to get it there.

Buying American certainly doesn't have to be about patriotism, xenophobia, or fear. When you live in a culture where the stuff you buy travels far more than you do, shopping local isn't a cutesy trip to the farmers' market, it is radical political action. It is environmentally necessary that we all stop schlepping stuff all over the Earth when we can get the same thing from nearby. It keeps jobs in the US, it keeps money in our own communities, and it takes money away from Oil Giants like Exxonmobil.

Stop with Plastics (and Polyesters)

Exxon also has a huge chemical division that makes chemical compounds like aromatics that are used in styrene, polyester, and nylon. They also make Polyethylene and Polystyrene, which we laymen mostly know as plastic. None of this is biodegradable and it is truly terrible for the environment, so if you want to stick it to jerks like Tillerson and Exxonmobil, you have to minimize the plastics you buy. If you need something plastic, see if you can find it used first.

Giving up plastics, especially plastic packaging seems impossible, but so many people minimize their plastic consumption and you can too. Everything from toothbrushes to water bottles can be replaced with other materials and options. You don't have to upend your life, just some simple changes like shopping the outside of the grocery store and always saying no to plastic straws and shopping bags can add up. Once you get started, it gets easier and easier.

Give your Money to their Competitors

Yep, like I said before, gas companies are a club of absolute losers. None of them can come out the winner here, and their desperation and nastiness will only increase as their product is running out. That being said, if you are just looking to give someone other that Exxon your money, you do still have other options. Don't stop at Exxon stations. Don't shop at Mobil stations. If you aren't sure what gas you are buying at your favorite stop, just ask them. It's not ideal, but boycotting one company at a time makes a lot of sense.

This is a tough one, and no solution is perfect (except not driving at all and buying everything local, which isn't feasible for most of us), but that doesn't mean we shouldn't try. It's better to cut back in mass than do nothing. Because none of us want to be investors in that kind of evil, but every time we stop and buy Exxonmobil gas, we are sending the message that we endorse their deception and power-grabbing, their destruction of the Earth, and their business model.

You don't have to be political to care about the environment, but if you are invested in the politics of our country at this moment, every dollar is another vote.  That old wisdom has never been truer, and you can take a stand every day by changing how and where you spend your money. Every penny paid  at Exxon Mobil gas stations approves their flagrant grab for power. This is another space for resistance, and it matters.

Want more shopping inspiration? Want to read about other companies that sell themselves as all-American but are actually working against the American people? Check out my Giant List of Shopping Lists.

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