On Saturday mornings during Lent, when the latest weekly fish fry is history, several churches are letting their used oil cool down. Not to pitch it, but to donate it.
"We try not to waste anything, that's our big philosophy this year," says Amy Goetzman, who coordinates the fish fry at St. Rosalia Parish, in Greenfield. "We even give our leftover food to the homeless. We just try to use everything we have to benefit the most people."
That's a good thing for small local energy companies who use the cooking oil as fuel for vehicles.
"It's like liquid gold to us," says Steven Kovacik of Zero Fossil, an alternative-energy company in Munhall. The company provides solar- and wind-powered generators for events, including such large, high-profile ones as the Three Rivers Regatta and the Three Rivers Arts Festival. In keeping with its off-the-grid philosophy, the vehicles it uses to haul equipment to and from events are powered on vegetable oil.
"We just pull out the French fries and bread crumbs and use it," Kovacik says.
With almost 10 Catholic parishes in nearby Greenfield, Swissvale and Homestead donating to his company, Kovacik says he's receiving 10 times more oil than he can use. In the spirit of wasting nothing, he's collaborating with another local company, Fossil Free Fuel, of Braddock, which uses the oil in its biodiesel blend.
"We want to show that we do it all without fossil fuels," Kovacik says.