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You Dump It, You Drink It!

2010 November 4

By Lina Younes

In an earlier blog on car maintenance tips,  I mentioned the need to keep your car well tuned and to change the oil regularly in order to improve fuel efficiency. One of the commenters quickly pointed out that newer car models don’t require changing the oil as often as in the past. The guidelines used to be “change your oil every 3,000 miles or every three months, whichever comes first.” With new engine technologies and better lubricants, most auto manufacturers are revising their recommendations for oil changes intervals. For some cars, the intervals can be up to every 7500 miles. Ultimately, this has positive environmental benefits and monetary savings as well. So the best advice is to check your owner’s manual for the best oil change interval for your vehicle.

Some of you might prefer to change the oil yourself. I like my car, but I would never attempt to take car maintenance into my own hands. Since I don’t have those skills, I leave that to the experts. Just a word of caution, don’t dump the oil down the drain! That contaminates our water! Used oil that ends up in our waterways also threatens aquatic lives. Tossing it in the trash, contaminates landfills. Recycle used oil!

EPA developed a bilingual outreach campaign aimed at increasing environmental awareness among automotive mechanics and consumers. The campaign encourages do-it-yourselfers to take their used motor oil to recycling centers for recycling and/or reuse. There might be an auto shop near you that provides that service, check it out. As always, looking forward to your comments.

About the author: Lina Younes has been working for EPA since 2002 and chairs EPA’s Multilingual Communications Task Force. Prior to joining EPA, she was the Washington bureau chief for two Puerto Rican newspapers and she has worked for several government agencies.

Editor’s Note: The opinions expressed in Greenversations are those of the author. They do not reflect EPA policy, endorsement, or action, and EPA does not verify the accuracy or science of the contents of the blog.

Editor's Note: The opinions expressed here are those of the author. They do not reflect EPA policy, endorsement, or action, and EPA does not verify the accuracy or science of the contents of the blog.

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15 Responses leave one →
  1. J Kleine permalink
    November 4, 2010

    I recently read the book “A Civil Action” by Jonathan Harr, and this post reminded me of how lethal the consequences can be for irresponsibly dumping chemicals, whether they go down the drain, in the dirt, or into the trash. The book focuses on corporate environmental responsibility, but what it really boils down to is individual responsibility. Throwing some old car oil into the trash, or down the drain, or on the ground, may not seem like a huge deal at the time. But what would happen if everyone was dumping their old oil (or any other chemicals) down the drain? We are all a part of this world, and every person’s actions affect their neighbor. We can each make a difference through the small, but significant, measures we take every day. In the case of “A Civil Action”, the difference between taking the easy way out and practicing environmental stewardship was the lost lives of many children and the seemingly endless medical problems for an entire town. I not only recommend this book, but I highly recommend disposing of chemicals and hazardous materials (even all recyclables for that matter) in the proper way, not only for our generation but for the generations of our children.

  2. armansyahardanis permalink
    November 4, 2010

    Don’t Dump The Earth, Don’t Drink It. Back to The Natural !!!
    The mankinds are greedy who always exploitation it’s : anything, anywhere then anytime. They have forgotten theirs’ cries baby did. However, when they were born they made an appointment by cries to maintain this universes an sich. Cries are sacred, live and let die. Sometimes we forgot to laugh above to cry, to take above to give and to forget above to promise. Empty……..

  3. Lina-EPA permalink*
    November 4, 2010

    thanks for the recommendation. I agree wholeheartedly. Environmental protection is everyone’s responsibility.

  4. November 4, 2010

    Plenty of recyclers are out there. In fact, used oil has become a commodity and people will pay you for it.

  5. November 4, 2010

    For more information on how to dispose of oil, and petroleum distillates, correctly, and possibly get paid by the recycler,

  6. Suzanne permalink
    November 4, 2010

    Our neighborhood canal is used as the emergency discharge route for the nearby oil refinery for rain events which the waste water treatment plant has inadequate capacity. The Louisiana DEQ has a public service announcement which explains the oil from one vehicle’s oil change contaminates one million gallons of water, yet our neighborhood is left unprotected. The neighborhood canals discharge into the nearby central wetlands just south of Lake Borgne.

    Regulated industries which do business in the Gulf Coast Area should have adequate plans for rain which provide for protection of human health, soil and water.

  7. Jaakko-epoo permalink
    November 4, 2010

    I have to agree with Lina-Epa!

  8. Rodney Bath permalink
    November 5, 2010

    They have Green Motor Oil, API approved and on a GSA Gov’t contract.
    You can dump this oil anywhere because it’s made from beef talow and not petro. You get 9000 an oil change to save money and the environment.



  9. Heather Cyrus permalink
    November 6, 2010

    Another important aspect to remember when examining the impact of car oil in our water systems is oil leaking from motor vehicles. A brilliant PBS documentary entitled “Poisoned Waters” uses the Puget Sound (Seattle area) as a frightening example. According to the documentary, 6.3 million gallons of petroleum funnels into the sound every year as runoff from roads and parking lots. This is the equivalent of the Exxon Valdez oil spill being dumped every two years. For those of us with vehicles, it is crucial we keep them maintained and not allow oil leakage. I am an environmental studies student living in the Pacific Northwest and I had no idea this was such a big problem. It would be great to receive more funding for environmental education. A sign near the Sound would be brilliant; help individuals become more aware.
    Heather Cyrus
    tweet @heathercyrus

  10. Michael E. Bailey permalink
    November 6, 2010

    I live in a condo complex in south Orange County and no one tries to change the oilin their car or pickup here. One reason is that dumping it into the gutter is illegal under the rules of the San Diego District of the California Water Quality Control Board which south Orange County is a part. Another reason is that most all the car repair shops here are certified used oil recyclers, so it is easy to go to a garage or repair shop and turn in the used oil or have them change it for you. If anyone has ideas of changing the oil and putting the used oil in the condo association’s trash dumpsters, they have changed their minds because the Association fines $75.00 for a first offence putting illegal waste into the dumpsters and has warnimg signs on each dumpster and dumpster pad. The contractors that remodeled some of the condos tried putting construction debris and things like unused leftover paints into the Association dumpsters and had to pay big fines to the Association for doing that. Best wishes, Michael E. Bailey.

  11. Lina-EPA permalink*
    November 8, 2010

    Important info. Thanks for sharing.

  12. Lina-EPA permalink*
    November 8, 2010

    Glad you live in a community where green living is truly incorporated into all actions. Other communities are not as fortunate. In fact, one of the comments that I received from abroad points to the fact that dumping down the drain is the only option because there are no recycling centers. Imagine that. You guys are light years ahead of many cities even here in the US. Keep up the good work.

  13. Richard Lachica permalink
    February 8, 2011

    Very informative, although we always go to an autoshop to change oil, I did not know that dumping it in the drainage increases pollution.
    I always thought it would’ve dried up. I should go ask the auto shop here where they put the waste oil.

  14. Lina-EPA permalink
    February 8, 2011

    Hopefully they recycle their waste oil. Let them visit our website for more informational materials on the issue:


  15. Mechanics Sydney permalink
    August 7, 2011

    Great things are given in this blog, and i cant wait to read more!

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