Recycle Your Oil, Protect the Planet

If you’re like most car guys you probably change your own oil – according to the American Petroleum Institute more than half of the 600 gallons of motor oil sold each year is purchased by do-it-yourselfers.

Changing your own oil has a couple of advantages. Number one, maintaining your car is just part of the fun of owning it. Number two, you don’t have to worry about someone else under your precious hood. However, there’s one significant drawback – you don’t have easy access to proper disposal of your used oil.

Proper disposal is imperative. Even a small amount of motor oil dumped on the ground or poured into a storm drain can have serious environmental consequences. The Environmental Protection Agency estimates that over 40 percent of our nation’s oil contamination comes from improper disposal by do-it-yourselfers.

Earth 911, an environmental action network, makes it easy for you to find used oil and filter drop-off locations near you. All you have to do is go to their website – – and type in your zip code.

A large portion of used motor oil is recyclable – it can be reprocessed, reconditioned and re-refined into fuel that is burned in furnaces, turbines, power plants and manufacturing facilities to provide heat and electricity.

According to Earth 911, two gallons of used motor oil can generate enough electricity to:

  • Power the average home for one day
  • Vacuum a house for 15 months
  • Watch television for 7 ½ days straight

In contrast, just one gallon of oil that’s improperly disposed of – poured on the ground, into a storm drain, or thrown into a trash can (even in a sealed container) can:

  • Contaminate one million gallons of freshwater – a year’s supply for 50 people
  • Render a four-acre area of soil unusable for planting for decades
  • Create an oil slick on surface water up to eight acres in size

Earth 911 estimates that over 180 million gallons of oil are improperly disposed of each year by do-it-yourselfers. Please don’t be one of them. When you’ve drained the used oil from your engine, pour it into any sealable container – milk jugs and empty oil bottles work well – just make sure not to mix the oil with brake or transmission fluid and make sure the container you’re using didn’t previously hold any household chemicals or cleaning solutions. Then, visit to find a recycling drop-off location near you. It takes some extra effort, but it’s worth it.

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