This is an informal, open, "thank you" letter to the BP corporation for building this gas station, named "Helios House," at the corner of Olympic and Robertson Blvds. in Los Angeles.  (www.thegreencurve.com) I drove past it only accidentally, as I chose to take surface streets instead of freeways home from a Westside meeting. I probably would have never seen it, otherwise.

(fotos by felix)







Not only does the place look dazzling in the sun, but the bathrooms are something to envy, including the sleek, metal toilets that I remember from being in jail.  The attendants even seem happy to be working there.  The pumping islands are well stocked with recycled-paper info about the recycled materials used in constructing the station.  According to a detailed map of the station, one of the building’s attributes is the "rainwater-collecting canopy" (# 5 on the map), where "rainwater from the canopy is collected and used to water the landscaping."  Am I the only one familiar with the annual rainfall of Los Angeles or should I call BP and let them in on the secret?  Not to be a cynic, but I fear for the lives of those tender little plants if they’re waiting around for our next freakish cloudburst….

There are also postcards made with seed-infused paper that you soak in water and stick in the ground so that you can grow…uh…plants…wherever you want, or something.

Yes, I will drive extra far (and use more gas) to buy gasoline in a good-looking, clean gas station that stocks the men’s rest room with Method hand soap on the infinity / basin-free sink and has a fucking potted orchid on the interior ledge.  I’m totally sold.  And so refreshing not to have to look at a big container of Slim-Jims for a change.

I’m a bit suspicious of all the eco-stuff in marketing, however, as it so often reeks of bullshit to me.  If BP really cared about the environment, wouldn’t they stop making and selling gasoline entirely? Or…could they at least ban those bloated, unnecessary SUVs from the Helios House?  Yesterday, I saw a full-page ad from Starbucks in the New York Times about eco-something or other.  "Green." "Recycled." "Kissy kissy planet love don’t ban our stores in your neighborhood because you need us on every corner." Yawn.  Who are they kidding?  If someone is drinking a coffee in their ugly, generic-looking McStores, then put the coffee in a real ceramic cup that can be washed and re-used until some drunk drops it on the floor after a big night out.  Instead, we’re served coffee in a paper cup wearing a thick paper tube-top (because summer is year round at Starbucks) so that we don’t burn our hands or worse, our gentle parts down there.  And stop selling those enormous, 1230 calorie coffee milkshake Frappa-things in giant plastic containers to overweight people who insist on "non-fat milk and extra whipped cream and double chocolate caramel syrup." 

Hug the planet.