Alexandra Solano has a favorite saying:
“Oil never wears out,” she says. “It just gets dirty.”
As head of the Used Oil Program for Anaheim Fire & Rescue, Solano knows all too well the damage improperly disposed oil can cause on the environment.
“Just one gallon of oil spilled in a lake will contaminate 1 million drinking gallons of potable water,” Solano says. “And used oil dumped on your lawn eventually will seep into the groundwater.”
Solano’s job is to educate Anaheim residents, both young and old, about the importance of properly disposing of oil and used oil filters.
And this Saturday, and continuing through March on weekends, residents will have a chance to be rewarded for their efforts.
The deal: Drop off a used oil filter at a designated location, and get a new oil filter for free.
This Saturday, Feb. 27, until 3 p.m. the used filter deal will be available at two AutoZone locations:
— 423 N. Anaheim Blvd.
— 2145 W. Lincoln Ave.
Next month, residents can exchange an old filter for a new (and free) oil filter on March 7, 8, 12, 13, 19, 20, 26 and 27 before 3 p.m. at four O’Reilly Auto Parts locations:
— 2960 W. Ball Rd.
— 2072 E. Lincoln Ave.
— 2245 W. Ball Rd.
— 3400 W. Lincoln Ave.
The AutoZone and O’Reilly Auto Parts locations are among 31 Certified Collection Centers in Anaheim.
Each year, Solano says, Anaheim collects between 39,000 and 60,000 gallons of used oil. After contaminants are removed, this oil can be recycled for other uses.
The free oil filter exchange is just part of Anaheim Fire & Rescue’s efforts to deal with proper disposal of this hazardous material.
Around 30 to 40 times a year, Solano attends public events throughout Orange County to educate people about the need to recycle oil.
“I think there’s a lack of awareness about the need to properly dispose of oil — I don’t think most people are trying to be bad,” Solano says.
One large event Solano regularly attends is the Children’s Water Education Festival.
The 20th annual event, the largest of its kind in the United States, will be held March 23-24 at UC Irvine.
Solano has been in charge of AF&R’s Used Oil Program for nearly 13 years. Prior to that, for nearly two years, she was in charge of the countywide program for the O.C. Health Care Agency.
Solano earned an associate’s degree in environmental technology from Rio Honda College and is working on a bachelor’s degree in environmental science.
In addition to the used filter program and public outreach, Anaheim Fire & Rescue, through a grant, hands out to residents about 3,000 containers that can safely hold 5 gallons of oil.
Some residents get creative with their containers. Solano recalls one man who showed up at a drop-off point with a wine bottle filled with oil.
That’s not a proper container for used oil.
Solano is passionate about educating the public about the ins and out of dealing with used oil.
After all, the environment needs all the help it can get.
“I want to make a difference,” Solano says.