Hey Mr. Green,
Is synthetic oil greener than conventional motor oil? --Gentry in Sacramento, California
"Synthetic" is a dirty word to some nature lovers, but it's actually a better choice than "real" oil. While synthetic oils take twice as much energy to produce than do ordinary lubricants, they need changing less often, so there's a net savings in total energy and oil consumption, typically 4.5 gallons per year. This is why the EPA favors synthetics.
But energy for motor oil is probably less of a problem than do-it-yourself mechanics who dump drained oil instead of recycling it. More than 345 million gallons of lubricants are improperly disposed of each year--enough to pollute trillions of gallons of water. To find out where to recycle oil, call (800) CLEANUP or go to earth911.org.