HOW many times have we complained about clogged and stinky drains in our neighbourhoods?
Chances are most of the time. But how many of us realise that it is likely we are contributing to the problem as well?
Of course, restaurants and food operators play a large part in causing fat, oil and grease to clog drains, because of the quantity they use on a daily basis.
But those of us who cook at home can make a difference.
For starters, let’s look at the way we dispose of the oil used to fry fish. Dumping it down the sink is the norm but that is not the right way.
The layers of fat and oil washed down the sink end up attracting rodents and pests that find their way into homes.
A downpour would then result in backflow of water, which can enter homes, because the accumulated grease has left little space for rainwater to flow out.
Sometimes, it is easier said than done because throwing out used oil has become a habit we have cultivated over the years.
Try telling your mother or grandmother that we should store used oil in a bottle to sell for recycling.
“They will resell it to restaurants and you will be eating food cooked with recycled oil!”, would probably be their retort.
That assumption is not far from the truth. There have been cases where unscrupulous people do it to save cost.
However, all local authorities in Selangor have introduced their own used oil recycling programme.
The oil collected is turned into biodiesel, which is used by companies as fuel.
Sepang Municipal Council, for example, has turned used oil into Aedes Biobased Fuel (ABBF) for a mosquito fogging formula.
All it takes is for us to call them up, enquire about the collection or drop-off points and hand over the used oil.
It is that simple, but requires a little effort on our part.
If this proves to be inconvenient, another option is to get members of your community together and come up with a collection point among yourselves.
It can be at work, your gym, your neighbourhood or even your child’s school.
Each week or month, people can take turns to send the collected used oil to the designated council drop-off locations.
If you have large quantities, you might be able to get the council to come and collect it from the collection point.
To ensure people are calling the right people and collecting oil correctly, councils may need to set up a dedicated page for this purpose.
The authorities need to include ways to collect the oil properly and provide lists of grease trap providers, collection vendors as well as drop-off points.
There has to be options for people to make the transition easier for everyone.
This will go a long way in helping people to adopt this habit.
If Japan can do it and have drains so clean that beautiful Koi fish can live in them, I am sure we Malaysians can do the same.
To quote American motivational speaker Denis Waitley, “There are two primary choices in life: to accept conditions as they exist, or accept the responsibility for changing them.