Tag Archives: eco-friendly

Person pouring out oil from a frying pan into a grease trapping system

How to Properly Dispose of Cooking Oil

Large plastic bottle with sunflower oil and one glass special oil container on the kitchen table. Copy space.

You’ve gotten your oil to the perfect temperature for that memorably-crisp fried chicken. But now that the meal is done, and cleanup is imminent, it’s clear that knowing how to cook with oil is only half the skill. What do you do with all that oil afterwards? 

Related: From Coconut to Avocado, 10 Trending Cooking Oils and How to Use Them

It may be tempting to just pour what remains – be it this, fat or any other grease – straight from the pan down the drain (or toilet), but doing so is not only potentially harmful to the environment, it could also do major damage to your (and the city’s) plumbing, and even cause flooding. Bacon drippings, we’re looking at you. 

This said, that waste has to go somewhere, right? Here are top ways to handle cooking oil responsibly: 

Dirty frying pan.

Let It Cool

Depending on the type of fat you’re dealing with, and its room-temperature state (liquid or solid), you may want to let it cool, solidify, and scrape it into your bin. Do note, confirm your local waste disposal guidelines for whether to place it in your compost bin or garbage. 

Related: 32 Easy Air Fryer Recipes That Are Simply Delish

Soak It Up

If you only have a small amount of oil you’re working with, you can soak it up with paper towel, and put it in your compost bin, where it can be absorbed by other organic matter. Just make sure it’s sealed properly, as grease can be a tempting meal to critters and wildlife. 

Collect It and Seal It

In the opposite scenario, where you have a large amount of cooking oil to dispose of (10 litres or more), collect it into a sealable container labeled “cooking oil” and either arrange for a pickup or drop it off to your local hazardous waste facility.   

Related: Fantastic Fried Chicken Recipes

Person pouring oil out of a pan into a fat trapping system

Invest in a Grease Trapping System

If you’re a fan of frying foods, and know you work through large amounts of it but not all at once, you’ll want to consider investing in a grease trapping system, such as this Range Kleen Fat Trapper System and Grease Storage Container (retailing for $36 on Amazon). Let the oil cool, then transfer to the container and once full, seal the bag and carefully place in the bin. Another solid option (pun intended) is to also store it in the freezer so the grease freezes to a solid state for easier handling. 

Reuse It (Maybe)

While we wouldn’t recommend reusing oil on a regular basis (it deteriorates each time you heat it, affecting its smoke point), some people do turn to this as a way to minimize oil waste (and stretch their oil further). If you do opt for this path, don’t reuse your cooking oil more than once or twice before disposing of it (in one of the aforementioned safe ways before), and strain it with a multi-fold cheesecloth to filter out any residue. You may also want to add in some previously unheated oil as a way to freshen it up and extend its life before reusing it. 

Related: 5 Simple Olive Oil Pasta Sauces That Will Transform Your Dinner

Tomatoes growing on rooftop of Lufa Farms in Montreal

The World’s Biggest Rooftop Farm is in Canada — and Growing Fast

There’s an old debate that tends to come up when discussing local produce in Canada: how can we rely on local ingredients when we can’t grow essentials like tomatoes in the winter in our northern climates?

Tomatoes growing on rooftop of Lufa Farms in Montreal

Despite never growing a tomato in their lives, that question mulled around in entrepreneurs Mohamed Hage and Lauren Rathmell’s heads until they launched Lufa Farms together in 2008. Their response to that question? The world’s first commercial urban rooftop greenhouse, which first opened in Montreal in 2011. Produce is delivered to doorsteps and pickup points in customizable food baskets alongside food from nearby farms, as well as local artisans like bakers and cheesemakers.

Related: Building a Zero-Waste Kitchen is Easier Than You Think. Here’s How!

“We live in Montreal, so it’s really cold in the winter, you get a lot of snow, so a greenhouse is ideal because you can grow year-round,” said Lufa Farms’ communication director Caroline Bélanger. “Then to do it on a commercial scale allows more people to have access to local food that’s done responsibly and it’s just better for the environment in the long run.”

Lufa Farms building in Montreal

Growing food on a rooftop reduces the carbon-omitting kilometres it takes for food to get to grocery stores and then to our fridges. It also uses residual heat from the building it’s sitting on to save on energy in the winter. But perhaps most crucially, Lufa Farms grows its produce hydroponically in coconut fibre, meaning 90 per cent of water gets reused.

Related: The Ultimate Herb Guide: Varieties and Best Uses

Growing on a rooftop does have its drawbacks, though. Among them, Lufa’s produce can’t be listed as organic in Quebec because it doesn’t grow in soil, even though it does everything else required for organic certification (like not using synthetic pesticides). Lufa also can’t plant fruit trees with sprawling roots, so citrus and bananas are out of the question. Still, like the rows of bright green Boston lettuce in its greenhouses, Lufa keeps growing.

What started with one rooftop space in Montreal has expanded to four, including a 164,000 square-foot greenhouse on top of an old Sears warehouse that clocks in as the largest commercial rooftop greenhouse in the world. And ever since the pandemic hit, Lufa has ramped up its customer base (affectionately known as Lufavores), doubling to 25,000 food baskets per week, feeding 2 per cent of Montrealers.

Produce growing on rooftop of Lufa Farms in Montreal

“There was obviously a huge shift towards eating local and supporting local through more difficult times and we definitely saw that growth ourselves,” Bélanger said. “We don’t know for sure yet, but hopefully it stays that way and people really stop and recognize the need to support local businesses and farmers, as well as the benefit of being connected to where your food is really coming from.”

Related: Vegetables You Can Regrow in Your Kitchen

And Lufa Farms is far from finished its growth spurt. Bélanger said the company hopes to expand to more rooftops in Montreal as well as to other cities across the eastern half of Canada and the US.

“We never have enough tomatoes, we never have enough cucumbers, so continuing to grow in Montreal is something that we’re looking to do and our vision is a city of rooftop farms,” she said. “To be able to replicate this model elsewhere is definitely a goal, but when that happens, we’re not entirely sure just yet.”

Photos courtesy of Lufa Farms