Just because something won’t die doesn’t mean it’s good idea. For those lucky 2 of you in America that never heard of the “No Gas Day” idea, is goes like this: just about every year since 1999, someone has decided that we should try to lower gas prices by boycotting the gas pumps for one entire day. Gas company profits will fall! Prices will drop by 30 cents or more due the sudden decrease in demand! Our consumer outrage will be heard and our demands will be met!
Only, it doesn’t work. It didn’t work in 1999, or 2000, and it’s not going to work in 2007, either.
First of all, I’m not getting down on “hippies” or environmentalists at all. I’ve mentioned before, I’m a staunch environmentalist who has gone as far as not buying anything new in the name of saving the planet (and a significant amount of money). I see the good intentions of a “No Gas Day.” But I also see the insanely flawed logic, and even worse, how detrimental such an idea can be to our long term gas prices.
Sexy, Not Effective
People want to participate in a “No Gas Day” because it’s easy, and it sounds ever so sexy and powerful. “Yeah! I won’t buy gas today, how do you like that, oil man?” But it doesn’t make any real sense. First of all, the average consumer probably doesn’t fill their tank more than once a week, let alone every day. So we can only assume that gas companies don’t measure sales on a daily basis, but more likely, a weekly one. A “No Gas Day” wouldn’t even register a blip on their radar, since everyone will likely fill up their tank some other day that week.
Also, you have to consider the actual way a boycott works. Remember learning about Rosa Parks and the Montgomery Bus Boycott in school (or, if you happen to be old enough to remember it yourself)? A one day bus boycott wouldn’t have really made a big difference to the bus companies, because everyone would just be riding again the next day. Sure, they would have lost that much of one day’s profits, but if everything returned to normal the next day, do you really think they would have changed their racial seating policy?
No. Instead, it took a year-long boycott and the intervention of the Supreme Court to change the Alabama law that dictated the bus companies’ policies. Could you give up gas for a year? If you, and many others, could, it might actually make a difference.
There Is Another Way
It doesn’t have to be as extreme as a year-long complete boycott of gas. Sure, that would help. But if you live in the middle of nowhere (like me) and need a car to get anywhere, and haven’t yet figured out how to get your car to run on coffee, you can still find ways to cut back on your gas consumption. Yes, this is the real way to show the gas companies you’re mad as hell and not going to take it any more: slow and steady reduction. Most of this isn’t going to be news to you – you’ve probably heard it all before. But how much of it are you actually doing?
- Carpool, bike, rollerblade, or walk, when you can. Or just stay home!
- When choosing between two fun activities, include the distance you’ll have to drive in your decision-making.
- Make right turns instead of left turns.
- Don’t speed.
- Empty your trunk – extra weight uses more gas.
- When you buy a new car, make fuel efficiency a major priority.
- Combine errands – if you have a bunch of things to do in the same area this week, do them all in one day instead of driving out there multiple times.
- The average American family has more than two cars. Try to drive the most fuel efficient one. (Get used to saying “Let’s take my car – it gets better gas mileage!”)
Tips like these will save your pocketbook in the “now,” as well as help cut down on overall demand for gas in this country, which should lower gas prices and save you money in the “then.” Anybody else have some fuel efficiency tips to add?
I really do believe “No Gas Day” is a dangerous idea. People feel like they’re making a difference, but they’re really having no impact. And because they feel like they did good, they can also feel like they’re excused for things like having a gas guzzling SUV that they don’t need, or anything else they might do (but know better). The excuse “Yeah, but I participated in No Gas Day!” is useless, and gives the false idea that a simple stunt can make a real impact. So fill up your tank on May 15th, 2007… but only if you really need gas.