By Nina Wu
Most of you have probably heard of those oil change boxes where you can drain your motor oil from your car — if you do it yourself.
It's basically a Chinese takeout box filled inside with highly absorbent cellulose materials made from recycled newspapers, cardboards and phonebooks (retail price $3), which absorb your cooking oil.
It takes up to four cups of oil. If you don't use it all up right away, you can store this box under your sink or in the fridge. When done, toss it into your trash can for curbside pickup (the oil will in turn go to HPOWER and be converted back into energy).
The logo is fun and kind of catchy.
Fats, oils and grease — collectively known as FOG — are the city sewer system's No. 1 enemy, according to a city report. When you pour oil down your sink, it cools in the sewer line and solidifies, potentially forming clogs that can cause your sewer to overflow or back up into buildings.
This goes for pretty much any kind of oil, including olive oil (which is what I mostly cook with) for simple stir-fries. It's not just the big vat of oils used to fry foods that we're talking about.
Chea is actually a property manager, and he can tell you firsthand of the woes and expenses condo associations have had to go through to fix their sewer lines due to people pouring excess grease and oil down their sinks.
The boxes replace more traditional oil disposal methods, which include pouring oil into old milk cartons, jars and paper towels to clean up excess cooking oils. One reader called in to say you could make your own oil disposal box out of recycled half-gallon milk cartons and recycled newspapers — I think you certainly could and that's not a bad idea if you don't want to shell out money to buy a box. You would be recycling and keeping grease out of the sewer lines.
If you don't want to make your own box, then you can buy a Whoa! Fat box. What I like is that these boxes are actually manufactured here out of materials recycled from the island.
If you don't have access to Internet (as another reader informed me), you can pick up a Whoa! Fat box at Napa Auto Parts in Hawaii Kai (333 Keahole St.) and Kaimuki (3562 Waialae Ave.) or at Kale's Natural Foods at the Hawaii Kai Shopping Center (377 Keahole St.).