by Connie Oswald Stofko
Thanksgiving is coming up next week, with more winter celebrations to follow. You may be cooking a lot–and cleaning up a lot.
What should you do with the grease on the pots and pans?
Let’s look at the choices. You may be surprised.
It’s generally recommended not to use fats, oils and grease in your compost because they can create odor problems and attract rodents.
Some people say you can add small amounts of fats, oil and grease to your compost, especially if it’s plant-based oil rather than animal fat. I’ve done that on occasion, but last year we had some critter chewing through our plastic compost bin, and I think it might have been because they could smell some wonderful grease in there.
Adding grease to your compost bin may slow down the decomposition, too.
But if you’re not in a hurry and you’re not too concerned about rodents, you can try wiping grease out of a dish with a paper towel and putting the paper towel it in your compost bin. Let us know how that works for you.
If you don’t compost fats, oil and grease, what are your other options?
Dump down drain or in toilet–no!
Not only could those fats clog the pipes in your house, they could clog the sewer system.
Background: Much of Western New York has a combined sewer and stormwater system. When we get a heavy rain or heavy snowmelt, the system can get overwhelmed. To keep the water from backing up into your house, a an overflow valve is opened, and untreated sewage is dumped directly into our waterways. That why beaches are often closed after a heavy rain.
Fats, oils and grease can clog the system and trigger runoffs, too, said Jennifer Fee, communications and marketing director at Buffalo Niagara Waterkeeper.
“Our infrastructure is old, crumbling and failing us in a lot of ways,” Fee said. When people flush items that they shouldn’t, “it exacerbates our existing problems.”
While we don’t want to add to landfills, for now, that’s an acceptable place for fats, oil and grease. It’s much better than sending them down the drain!
Wait until the excess fat from your dish cools and hardens, then scrape the fat into the garbage, Fee said. If you have grease in a pan, wait until it cools, then wipe the grease out with a paper towel or coffee filter and throw that into the garbage.