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Do you remember you father cursing and sweating while working away under the family car? He would then emerge with plastic milk cartons full of that nasty black liquid that would sit in the garage for the next five years. Yup, that was used motor oil.

That used motor oil, when recycled, protects our water sources, saves energy, cuts down on the use of our raw materials (specifically crude oil) and, of course, saves our environment. On the other hand, when disposed of improperly, one gallon of used motor oil can contaminate 1 million gallons of fresh water, create an oil slick on water up to eight acres in length, and make a four acre plot of land unusable for planting for decades. To put the size of an acre into proportion, it is just about the size of a football field. Imagine a plot of land the size of four football fields being rendered unplantable, simply by spilling one gallon of used oil on it. Or, imagine an oil slick covering an entire lake the size of eight football fields by that same gallon.

The reason this used oil is so bad for our environment is because it contains many toxic chemicals such as additives and heavy metals from constant wear on your engine parts. These chemicals can potentially be carcinogenic and extremely dangerous for us humans. That is why we must keep them out of our water systems.

Fortunately, more than 380 million gallons of used motor oil are recycled in the U.S. each year. According to the U.S. EPA, that’s more than 50 percent of all motor oil bought annually. Use your imagination, that’s a lot of acres we are saving.

Where can you recycle your oil? The most common places to drop your used oil off to be recycled are at your local auto repair shop or auto parts store. If, however, that is not an option for you, you can always call your local government and they can direct you to a nearby collection facility. Check out for more help.

Using recycled motor oil is a great way to drive a more eco friendly car. It can be used for many different products. For one, it can be re-refined into motor oil to be used again in your everyday vehicle. A gallon of used engine oil can produce the same amount of refined lubricating oil as 42 gallons of crude oil. This practice is quickly becoming more and more popular. Until recently, recycled motor oil was sold in small quantities by relatively unknown brand name companies. This, however, is not true anymore. With big-name companies such as Valvoline stepping up to the plate with their NextGen line of products, the image of recycled oil is quickly improving. Using products like this increases the sustainability of our environment, as well as makes for a more eco friendly car.

While re-refined oil for re-use in consumer vehicles is quickly becoming more popular, it is not the most common use for recycled oil. That prize goes to commercial uses such as fuel for powering turbines in power plants, incinerators and manufacturing facilities. A small percentage is also used in specially designed industrial space heaters.

With the increase of vehicles on the road every day, recycling you motor oil is becoming more important. When you take your car to have the oil changed, make sure you ask your mechanic if he recycles oil. Also, if your the weekend warrior type who prefers to change your own oil, always make sure you bring your oil to a local quick lube shop or collection facility. It is up to us as consumers and DIY-ers to make sure we recycle our oil. Every gallon from every oil change counts. Let us know if you have any other eco-friendly uses for used motor oil.

Check out these links to learn more about re-refined motor oil products:

Valvoline NextGen
Eco Power
Green Earth Technologies

Earthgarage – Greener Car. Fatter Wallet.