Dear Umbra,

You missed a fantastic opportunity to promote biodiesel use of the cooking oil. There are many people collecting frying oil from restaurants and the like, and perhaps the reader could find a person collecting as well. Check newspaper ads for persons collecting or check the restaurants in your neighborhood for who is collecting.

Thanks for the great articles.

Keith McCready
Waterloo, Iowa

Editor’s Note: Oh, how Umbra would love to address this issue — but she’s been kidnapped! Please donate to Grist by 11:59 p.m. Pacific on Dec. 11, 2007, to secure her safety. The sooner we see 2,000 gifts of any size, the sooner you’ll get the great green advice you’ve come to know and love.

Editor’s update: Umbra has been released, thanks to your generosity, and was able to pen an answer to this query.

Dearest Keith,

I missed so much, so much. I thought about that so often, usually during one of the five daily baths I was forced to take.

Oops … should have auto replied.

All I can add to Keith’s info-rich letter is a bit of background information. Biodiesel is a vegetable oil-based fuel that can be used in diesel engines. It is possible to make biodiesel from waste cooking oil. Small and large-scale biodiesel manufacturers have agreements with restaurants to gather and transform used cooking oil. As Keith and others pointed out, if you have oil left over from a large-scale frying operation in your home kitchen, you may be able to find a biodiesel brewer who would welcome said used oil. Then again, your amount of oil may be too tiny, or the quality may be too sketchy, so don’t be offended if no one wants it. It’s worth trying, though.

Keith suggests the newspapers and restaurants; I also had a little luck on Craigslist and a surprising result when I put “donate used vegetable oil” into my search engine: the solid waste department for Montgomery County, Md., has an entire veggie oil exchange listing on their website. Zounds. Search on, my oily friends.

TDIly,
Umbra