Tuesday, May 25, 2004

Running on Fat

Running on Fat

My big cause, aside from universal health coverage and requiring couples to go camping before getting married, is recycling.

I used to drive by a huge landfill on the way to my cousins' house (it's since been covered up and turned into an expensive housing subdivision and golf course), so maybe that's why I can't stand just throwing anything away. Garbage dumps just seem like giant coordinated littering, if you ask me. So I recycle, I freecycle, I re-use, and soon, I will compost.

But one thing that throws a wrench into all this happy tree-hugging is cooking oil, which is hard because I love all things fried, and we go through gallons of olive oil. You can, in theory, use it multiple times by careful filtering, but eventually it does get smelly and funkified. But you can't pour it down the drain. You can't pour into the trash. You can't compost it. You're reduced to collecting it into (recycle-able) jars and cans and wrapping it in (recycle-able) newspaper and putting it in the trash like so much toxic waste.

Enter biodiesel. Diesel cars, outfitted with a not-too-expensive conversion kit and an extra fuel tank, can run nicely on plain old used cooking oils and fats. Restaurants are happy to just give that stuff away because they have to pay for disposal anyway. Drivers are happy because it's a lot cheaper than gas. Environmentalists are happy because emissions are much cleaner and it's a renewable resource. Farmers are happy because it's a big potential market. I'm happy because the oil is being used instead of sitting into a smelly pit or seeping into the groundwater and because it just seems so sensible.

Granted, not knowing anyone with a biodiesel vehicle, this doesn't change what I do with the oil. So I haven't deep fried in much too long. But Foodgoat may soon be in the market for a new car, so I may be dropping hints about diesel cars as well as hybrids. Unfortunately, it's really only German manufacturers making diesel cars, and we all know what happened to his last German-made car ...

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