Remember Recycling in your Daily Living

You recycle bottles and cans at home. You reduce and reuse paper at work and school. You compost your food scraps, and collect rain water for your garden. You save your fluorescent light bulbs and batteries to recycle at Household Hazardous Waste Roundups. You celebrate Earth Day every year. But there may be one aspect of your daily life that you are forgetting.

Think of the amount of time you spend in your car every day; it's a lot, isn't it? For most of us, it's our cars that get us from home to work and back again. But how often do you look under the hood and check to see what's going on with your engine?

The truth is that maintaining proper car care is one of the best things you can do to help protect the health of our environment.

We tend to think of motor oil pollution coming from big tanker spills and industrial dumping. However, improperly disposed of used motor oil from individuals accounts for more than 40% of all oil pollution in U.S. harbors and waterways. A large part of that pollution comes from the slow "drip, drip, drip" of improperly maintained, leaky automotive engines.

Motor oil pollution from leaky vehicles is a huge problem, especially in a dense, urban area like Los Angeles. A study conducted by the California EPA found that 20-40% of all motor oil sold statewide is burned or leaked during its use, resulting in approximately 1.8 million gallons of motor oil pollution in L.A. County runoff.

Motor oil and other automotive fluids are toxic. Oil spills are a danger to kids and pets. When it rains, storm water runoff carries oil spills to our local waterways, including Ballona Creek. Even one gallon of motor oil can pollute one million gallons of fresh water.

Over time, the accumulation of many vehicles dripping motor oil erodes asphalt, causing potholes. Oil leaks are one of the most common causes of vehicle malfunctions. Ignoring a leaky engine can result in costly repairs.

So, what can you do? Check the fluid levels in your engine regularly. When you spot a leak, take your vehicle to your mechanic. Don't put it off. The longer you wait, the worse the wear on your car and the larger impact the leaking fluid will have on the environment.

If you change your own motor oil, remember to recycle the oil and oil filters at a Certified Collection Center. Never dump motor oil down storm drains, into streams, bury it or throw it in the garbage. Motor oil is a renewable resource; it never "goes bad," it just gets dirty. Recycled oil can be used over and over again. To find the Certified Collection Center nearest you, visit

For more information, contact the Westside Cities Used Oil Recycling Hotline at (888) HEY-SLICK.

A message from the Cities of Beverly Hills, Culver City, and West Hollywood. Funded by a grant from CalRecycle.


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