Several years ago I read about the problems restaurants faced with the disposal of used vegetable oil from cooking. If you have ever parked behind a fast food eatery you may have noticed a dumpster area for trash disposal as well as a container for storing used vegetable oil. The area is often tucked away behind the building to prevent the public from seeing and smelling the waste. Restaurants pay companies to haul away the solid and liquid waste.
I also learned many years ago that the diesel engine was invented by Adolf Diesel to run on peanut oil to help farmers with an affordable fuel source. Most diesel fuel now is petroleum based. Individuals can still run their diesel vehicles on vegetable oil by using a Grease Car type system or by converting the vegetable oil to biodiesel which requires a process and equipment using chemicals. I have always wanted to convert my VW diesel to veggie oil. Imagine free fuel that is also good for the environment and your exhaust smells like french fries.
Recently I have been thinking about generating electricity with used vegetable oil from restaurants using a diesel generator. I was surprised to see that a company has developed such a product for restaurants to generate electricity and hot water from used oil. The unit even filters the waste oil prior to using it to generate electricity and hot water. The product is called the Vegawatt Power System. For more information visit web site.
We do not use used vegetable oil at our inn to power the structures or heat water but we do utilize many eco-friendly methods.
Here at Cedar House Inn and Yurts we have recycling bins in all guest areas to recycle paper, certain plastics and glass. Most guests are good about not throwing recycled items in the garbage can.
We also compost all uncooked and cooked leftover foods for the gardens and to keep the trash cans from odors.
Our trips to the local landfill happen about every 3-4 months since we throw away very little.
Our county offers a recycling station but is very limited in what it takes. We haul certain plastics and all glass to another center in a nearby county.
I recently read an article about how much recycling varies across the country. It included a map of the USA showing recycling usage. I was shocked but not surprised that the southern states do not have recycling programs as much as other parts of the country. It appears to be a blue versus red state issue. Blue is more advanced in recycling. I often think this is true in most green practices.
I hope the south one day sees the importance of recycling on the Earth and environment.
We try to recycle everything we can at Cedar House Inn. One thing we cannot is number 5 plastics. Number 5 plastics are those medicine bottles and yogurt cups for example.
According to the new Green America magazine we just received Recycline has started the “Gimme 5” program where they will accept number 5 plastics and Brita water filters for recycling. They will make eco friendly products such as toothbrushes, razors, mixing bowls, food storage containers and more with the recycled plastic.
The “Gimme 5” bins for recycling will be at selected Whole Foods Markets or the plastic can be mailed to Recycline. Unfortunately our Whole Foods is too far away from the inn.
Cedar House Inn has found a new way to recycle wine bottles. We have created bottle trees and shrubs. In the past we took our glass wine bottles to have them recycled. On television we noticed that a PBS show had a feature on making bottle trees.
Apparently bottle trees originated in Africa. People thought that evil spirits would fly up the neck of the bottle and become trapped.
We made ours out of fence posts you can purchase at the local lumber yard. We used long nails or gutter spikes to hang the bottles on the trunk.
The great thing about the trees is that the never need watering and are always colorful. The are very pretty in the sunlight and sometimes make a slight ringing sound on windy days.
What a great recycling idea that adds a little art and color to the yard.
At Cedar House Inn we recycle everything we can to reduce the trash we take to the landfill and to help the environment and reduce our impact on the Earth. For years we have been mindful to purchase items with limited packaging or in containers that can be recycled or composted (for example choose glass, 1 &2 plastics).
Unfortunately styrofoam sometimes appears with something we have ordered online (those darn packing peanuts) or guests leave us styrofoam coffee cups or fast food take out containers in the trashcan that cannot be recycled. Styrofoam in the landfill can last for many years and never decomposes.
Fortunately you can now take styrofoam egg cartons and meat trays to Publix for recycling.
Now there is a solution I recently found. Unfortunately it is not available in our area. The process is called Styrosolve and involves crushing the used styrofoam into small pieces to be mixed with a recycled solvent that breaks down the styrofoam into polystyrene. The polystyrene is then sold to companies to make cell phones and television cabinets for example. What a great idea!
The company that has created this product is Blue Earth Solutions Inc. in Florida. They are a publicly owned company that will sell the technology to recyclers and municipalities through the country. Imagine making money recycling all of that styrofoam that now sits in the landfill for thousands of years.