Imagine Magazine - Johns Hopkins - May/June 2015 - (Page 20)

grease is gOOd HELPING THE ENvIRoNmENT AND THE CommUNITy wITH BIofUEL by Cassandra Lin I first learned about climate change in fifth grade after watching An Inconvenient Truth. Seeing the connection between a warming climate, melting ice caps, and rising sea levels hit home for me. Living in the small coastal town of Westerly, Rhode Island, I realized that parts of my community and many other coastal regions could one day be submerged if global warming continues at its current rate. But if the main cause of global warming is human consumption of fossil fuels, I thought, then humans could also provide the solution. I was only 10 years old, but I decided that I would do everything in my power to mitigate this problem. It Takes a Team My next step was to rally my classmates to action. A group of friends and I formed a community service team-the Jr. WIN (Westerly Innovations Network) Team-dedicated to helping both the community and the environment. The eight of us met at a table in my basement to talk about what we could do to help. We already knew that global warming could be slowed down by replacing fossil fuels with alternative energies, such as biodiesel. We decided to learn more about it. Soon after this meeting, my father told me about the Energy Solutions Expo that would be held at the University of Rhode Island. I went, and, among many vendors I visited that day, stopped at the booth of a biodiesel refinery. I was excited to learn that biodiesel could be produced from waste cooking oil. Around the same time, an article appeared in the local paper about a charity in our area called the WARM (Westerly Area Rest and Meals) Center, which had initiated a campaign called One Dollar Makes A Difference. In this campaign, residents donated one dollar each week to go toward emergency heating assistance. My teammates and I were astonished to realize that people in our own community were struggling to heat their homes in our harsh New England winters. Surely, we thought, we could find a way help these local families. And then the solution came to us: We could Turn Grease Into Fuel. work with needy families. We raised awareness of grease recycling by handing out flyers and kitchen calendars at supermarkets and town events, airing a public service announcement donated by COX Media, and making presentations to the public, especially at elementary schools, where we asked kids to encourage their parents to recycle. To make it easy for people to recycle used cooking oil, we asked our Town Council to set up a grease receptacle at the transfer station, which they agreed to do. We also asked local restaurants to donate their grease to the program. Once we had partners in place and the project running, we took it another step forward: we drafted and helped introduce a bill to mandate that all businesses in Rhode Island recycle their used cooking oil. We first showed the bill to our local legislatures, whose members helped us edit it. When it was ready, we testified three times on behalf of our bill at the Rhode Island State House and made presentations to various committees within the state legislature. The bill was signed into law in July 2011 and went into effect on January 1, 2012. Our project is a win-win situation. The environment wins because we're using biodiesel, a clean-burning alternative to petroleum-based diesel, to heat homes. By the EPA's calculations, we've prevented 3 million pounds of carbon dioxide from entering the atmosphere. The financially stressed families win because they're being provided with heat during the winter. In the past six years, we have donated 40,000 gallons of BioHeat (a biodiesel blend) to eight charities, allowing 400 families to stay warm in the winter. A Well-Oiled Machine Project TGIF is a system we created to collect grease, convert it into biodiesel, and then distribute the fuel to local families for emergency heating assistance. To make this project work, we first visited different companies to create partnerships. We coordinated with grease collectors, biodiesel refiners, biofuel distributors, and local charities that 20 imagine May/June 2015

Table of Contents for the Digital Edition of Imagine Magazine - Johns Hopkins - May/June 2015

Big Picture
In My Own Words Daniel Kammen, Professor of Energy, UC Berkeley
A Solar-Powered Solution to the Water Crisis Using the sun to purify water
The PolluCell Generating electricity using waste and pollution
More than a Race The Solar Car Challenge
Energy Agenda The power of teen research
Energized! A crash course in fuels of the future
Grease Is Good Helping the environment and the community with biofuel
Fueled by Algae Sara Volz and the powerful potential of pond scum
The Future of Energy Five careers in green power
My Sanskrit Yaatra Connecting with my culture through language
Devoted Awareness My internship with Until There’s a Cure
Selected Opportunities and Resources
Off the Shelf Review of Ralph Ellison’s Invisible Man
Word Wise
Exploring Career Options Interview with green architect Andrew Thompson
One Step Ahead Six things incoming college students should know
Planning Ahead for College Developing your passions
Students Review: University of Pennsylvania
Creative Minds Imagine
Mark Your Calendar
Knossos Games

Imagine Magazine - Johns Hopkins - May/June 2015