If you’ve been spending time on Facebook lately, you might’ve noticed a certain photo making the rounds:
Shared hundreds of thousands of times, people seem to be teaming up to take a day off of gas purchases.
There’s just one problem: the whole idea is useless.
As explained on the fact-checking website Snopes, the April 15 “Gas Out” is as flawed as it is compelling.
“[These] ‘protest’ schemes that don’t cost the participants any inconvenience, hardship, or money remain the most popular, despite their ineffectiveness,” Snopes wrote.
Consumers are just buying gas a day earlier or later than they usually would, so the same amount of gasoline is sold and oil companies don’t actually lose any money.
Not The First Time
As evidenced by the photo itself, which says “April 15, 2012,” instead of 2018, the “Gas Out” idea has been recurring for years.
Snopes has aggregated several similar posts over the last two decades, each proposing the same idea on different dates. But none has made any significant effect on gas prices.
In fact, the claim that the concept worked in 1997 appears to be a blatant lie.
If anything, the only ones who will suffer from a one-day lack of gas pumping are the service stations themselves.
“The primary potential effect of the type of boycott proposed in the ‘gas out’ messages is to hurt those at the very end of the oil-to-gasoline chain: the independent service station operators,” wrote Snopes.
“Even a single day’s disruption of supply or demand can wipe out many days’ worth of hard-earned profits [for independent stations]. As such, the “gas out” is a punch on the nose delivered to the wrong person.
Want Lower Gas Prices? Drive Less.
Though the quick fix of a day without gas has proved to be futile, there are other ways that the public can contribute to the lowering of gas prices. The problem is, they’re a lot harder.
If the same number of people who planned to take the day off of gas on April 15 instead made a concerted effort to drive less over weeks and months, they could actually make a dent in the problem.
Carpooling, taking public transit, or buying a more fuel-efficient car are all methods that you’ve probably heard before, but as we all know, they can be difficult to stick to.
So, here’s your friendly reminder to be kinder to the planet on a daily basis, rather than just one day in particular.