I enjoyed last week’s article about purchasing an organic, GMO free turkey. Now that we have the bird, my husband will be deep frying it for Thanksgiving! While I plan on composting any food scraps, I am unsure what to do with all of the leftover grease from the fryer. Last year, our neighbors had bears and raccoons rip through their trash going after the fryer stash. I have also heard nightmares about it clogging our pipes if oil gets poured down the drain. Do you have any advice?
— Hazel, Silverthorne
The rumors are true! Putting used cooking oil down the drain can lead to a costly clog, and critters can’t resist the aroma of fragrant fryer grease. Rather than considering your used cooking oil waste, you can up-cycle it into biodiesel, soaps and cleaners. No need to bust out your lab coat. Summit Greasecycling has been collecting and up-cycling used cooking oil from mountain restaurants for years. Locals are invited to contribute to the closed-loop system. You can deposit your used cooking oil and Thanksgiving fryer grease at Summit Greasecycling, located at 78 Huron Road in Breckenridge. For more information visit SummitGreasecycling.com or call (970) 485-4900.
If you do have food scraps, especially with all of the seasonal gatherings, it is never too late to join the Summit Compost Drop-Off Program. Organized by the High Country Conservation Center, drop-off sites are located at the Frisco and Breckenridge recycling centers. The organic “waste” is transported to Keystone, where it is mixed with wood chips and microbes, turning it into compost for local community garden projects. The High Country Compost is also available for purchase at SCRAP (Summit County Resource Allocation Park), aka the landfill.
Not only is composting part of another wonderful, closed-loop system in the mountains but it combats climate change. Food waste when tossed into the landfill produces methane, a greenhouse gas 72 times more potent than carbon dioxide. This may be a stretch but in fighting global warming, composting equals more snow.
When you join the Summit Compost Drop-Off Program you can deposit up to 10 gallons of food scraps and non-recyclable paper waste (coffee filters, paper plates, napkins, paper towels, etc.) per week. It costs $15 to sign up for a month, $35 quarterly and $120 for the year (only $10 a month). For more information visit HighCountryConservation.org or call (970) 668-5703.
HC3 can even provide gift certificates for the Summit Compost Drop-Off Program. These make for great presents for friends. While you are holiday shopping, I also recommend visiting HC3’s Eartha’s Green Shop. Last year I loaded up on Summit Soap bars, SnackTaxi pouches and Chico reusable shopping bags.
Reusable bags are an especially appropriate gift for locals since the Breckenridge Town Council has adopted a disposable bag ban. Plastic shopping bags, excluding the bags used for baked goodies, produce, nuts, etc., will now cost consumers 10 cents. To further its sustainability efforts the town has designed a reusable “Breckenridge Bag.” Half of the proceeds from the collected fees go to the retail shop or grocery store; the other half goes to the town’s reusable bag program.
The best way to divert waste is to avoid creating any in the first place. Try to decrease your ecological footprint before you even leave the grocery store. First become a conscientious consumer, buying organic produce and sticking with products that have less packaging. Never make the mistake of shopping while you are hungry and buying more than you can eat. While not an easy task, try to coordinate for gatherings. Whether you are hosting or attending a holiday potluck as a guest, get at least an estimate on how many mouths to feed.
Welcome to the beginning of the holiday season and thanks for thinking about being greener during the most wasteful time of the year. As stressful as the holidays sometimes feel, remember Thanksgiving is about gratitude, and a some of that gratitude should be directed to the planet that allows us live such a great mountain life!
Ask Eartha Steward is written by the staff at the High Country Conservation Center, a nonprofit organization dedicated to waste reduction and resource conservation. Submit questions to Eartha at firstname.lastname@example.org.