Teach About U.S. Blog

Day 6: Waste not, want not

Day 6: Waste not, want not

by Clara del Rey -
Number of replies: 0
Clara del Rey // 23 June 2015 // #GoingGreen #WasteNot

A matter that had always concerned me about my household was disposing used cooking oil responsibly. Why? One reason is that for every drop of oil we pour down the pipes, we are polluting one thousand drops of water.

When I was still living in Spain, recycling used oil was ‘relatively’easy as you could keep it until have a large quantity, and then take it to a collection point offered by the City Council for this particular purpose. (Here, for example, you can read about a campaign to recycle used olive and other cooking oils to make soap and biofuel in the city of Lleida, Spain.) In Scotland, however, this isn’t as easy, or at least I couldn’t find the way of recycling my oil, and just I wasn’t comfortable flushing pollutants down the drain. There are many proposals on how to reuse your used oil, but being in a DIY phase as I was, after the success of the all-in-one cleaning spray I had created, I decided to do what thousands of wise women (my grandma included) have been doing for centuries: make my own soap.

Collect used cooking oil and add citrus peels | (c) Clara del Rey

Collect used cooking oil and add citrus peels | © Clara del Rey

So now I collect the oil in an old jar for green olives (quite appropriate, isn’t it?), together with some orange or lemon peels to eliminate bad odors, and when I have collected about a liter, I start the process. Making Castile soap is actually quite easy, you only need oil, water, and caustic soda, which is a chemical you can buy in any drugstore and isn’t as toxic and harmful for your health as the chemicals I mentioned in my previous posts. And if you like it a bit more fancy and enjoy experimenting, then simply add leaves and essential oils to make your own unique hand soap!

prepare soap... | (c) Clara del Rey

Mix ingredients and cook soap | © Clara del Rey

In fact, Castile soap is a multifunctional ally in our household: I frequently melt it, grate it, or dilute it in water to make dishwashing liquid, floor cleaner, and laundry detergent.

Eh voilá! Self-made, organic soap from recycled oil | (c) Clara del Rey 

Et voilá! Self-made, organic soap from recycled oil | © Clara del Rey

Want to try it yourself? Check out these easy methods to recycle and reuse cooking oil and try out Frugal Kiwi’s step-by-step guide to producing your very own and unique Castile soap.


Clara del Rey, the winner of the travel well MAGAZINE's #WasteNot 30-day challenge , was invited to share her favorite ideas on reducing trash. Clara, a Spanish native, taught in St. Joseph, Missouri (USA), and is now living in Edinburgh, Scotland. Not only does she know both the U.S. and the European perspective on sustainability, but her ideas are creative, unconventional, and yet easy to follow.She is conviced: "I truly think being environmentally conscious starts with reducing your consumption of resources and products. Sometimes I stop, reflect upon people's frantic consumption habits and just think to myself: we are all addicts, in a way, having to buy compulsively insane amounts of disposable, poor quality 'goods'. It makes me wonder how we are losing the ability to create things with our hands or imagination—simple things such as cooking, growing greens and vegetables, or sewing a button. I refuse to represent this mindset."