Changing your own motor oil is a smart way to save money, but carelessly tossing the used sludge can have serious repercussions on our creeks, rivers and lakes. Along with hazardous chemicals, used motor oil is loaded with lead, arsenic, and other metallic compounds that wear off from your engine over time. When dumped into storm drains, poured onto the ground, or even thrown into black bins in a sealed container, this oil can reach waterways and cause contamination that can make us sick and kill water-dwelling plants and animals.
Thankfully, it’s easy to keep your DIY oil change eco-friendly.
- When doing an oil change, use a drip pan to collect any spills. If a spill occurs, soak it up using an absorbent material such as kitty litter or sawdust and scoop into a sealed container.
- Store your used motor oil in a sealed container completely free of leaks and drop it off at a certified used oil collection center.
- Don’t forget your oil filter. Filters store more than 10 ounces of oil—even after they’re drained—so they should never be tossed in the trash. Place filters in a sealed plastic bag and call your collection center before you go to make sure they accept them.
- Keep your new motor oil green by choosing re-refined oil, a product that’s recycled from used motor oil and then reprocessed. Though they’re not nearly as heavily marketed as standard motor oils, re-refined oils are just as high-performing and may be even more effective than virgin crude oil.
- Lastly, watch for oil leaks and fix it right away. Leaking motor oil washes from the street into storm drains when it rains.