Hey Mr. Green,
What’s the best way to dispose of expired vegetable and olive oils? I have a couple of bottles that are more than two years old and it doesn't seem like a good idea to pour them down the drain, but they are full so I don't want to put them in the garbage either. –Terri in Glenview, Illinois
From a plumbing perspective (as a side note, I think plumbing is one of the greatest accomplishments in human history), it's always a bad idea to pour oil down the drain. From a composting perspective, I'd hate to see even a drop your old oil added to the staggering 29 million tons of food waste that ends up in the landfill each year.
"Reduce, reuse, recycle" is the old eco-adage, and “reuse” would apply in your situation. Vegetable oils make good protectants and lubricants, so you can deploy them to polish furniture or silverware, oil squeaky hinges, protect and preserve metal and wood on garden and other tools, oil shoes and kids' baseball gloves and wooden bats, and lube some mechanical devices, though bicycle purists don't recommend it and I'm not sure these oils have the right properties for maintaining guns.
You can even use some vegetable oils to make soap and beauty products. Olive oil in particular has been used for skin and hair protection since ancient times. When those biblical prophets say, “thou annointest me," they're talking olive, not soy, canola, or corn. However, I wouldn't go rubbing on old, rancid oil, or using it for any of the numerous personal-lubricant purposes that you may have heard of. Even if all of these uses were safe--and I'm not sure they are--the odor might well preclude the desired results.
Finally, you could find out whether you can recycle cooking oils as biodiesel by checking that great recycling resource, Earth911.com. Actually, I just checked it for you. The nearest place that takes cooking oil is about 40 miles from your town, in Crest Hill. But it's obviously not worth a special trip.