Monday, May 14, 2007

My first story contribution

Sent: Monday, May 14, 2007 11:29 AM
Subject:My first story contribution

Our biggest supplier wants us to start paying for the grease. We knew the free ride would not last once they had to start paying more per gallon.

If you don't know us, we are Better World Fuels (I thought of the name, which is about my ONLY contribution.) In 2005, we need to get a larger vehicle. I started to look at hybrids, the only thing a true Greenie would consider. Then I brought home a copy of Mother Earth News. Each copy of MEN has cost me about $1200 in energy efficiency projects that my husband undertakes after reading about them. Anyway, I saw an ad for "make your own biodiesel" and asked my husband to consider it. After much research, we decided it was better to convert a diesel vehicle rather than convert the grease. Two years later, we have two cars that run on waste vegetable oil that we get for free from local restaurants. We average about 70 MPG of dino-diesel between the car and the truck.

We hoped this would help the earth, our own little contribution. We hoped it would shield us from the brunt of the oil crisis. And I have to admit that it has come upon us much later than it hit others. When food prices started to climb, we started feeling it ourselves. The restaurants started to charge more for their offerings when their costs increased. Then the biodiesel plants started to gobble up all of the soybean oil, so the prices shot up. You won't believe what the Chinese restaurant is paying per gallon for unhydrogenated! Nearly $7. The family restaurant next door to them is re-using their grease to the point that their fried foods cannot be considered 'crisp' any more. They are droopy and flavorless. They might as well be boiling them.

Our most reliable restaurants are just not meeting our demand. We have added three more on contract, but it is starting to take a lot of time just to collect the grease. What used to take an hour on the weekends is taking most of the morning on Saturday.

We did find out from one of the new restaurants that many of the renderers are canceling contracts. It costs way too much for them to run their trucks out to the suburbs, so they are just collecting from restaurants that are near to them. Hopefully, that will open up the market for us. We have gone Dumptser diving a few nights. That means we find a strip mall with several restaurants and just pull all the grease from their grease traps to take home for filtering. Most of the traps have been full lately, which makes sense now that we know no one is coming to pick it up any more.

Our biggest question is: how long can restaurants last? People can barely afford food at the store; eating out is such a luxury. A lot of the eateries around here are trying to buy locally, but there is just so little that people have until late summer. Our short growing season makes local purchases a small segment of available food stuffs. In addition, the demand is so great that local food is not much cheaper. I cannot imagine how lacking in produce February will be. If the restaurants fail, we will be in the same boat as everyone else.

Netizan GreaseWife

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