Fill 'Er Up

For most of this school year, our 5-year old has been indoctrinated with the non-stop green mantra of "reuse, reduce, recycle".  Not a day goes by, it seems, that he comes home without some sculpted concoction cobbled together from reused paper towel tubes, paper cups, some beads, sand, and a copious amount of tape.  All his favorite books now include recycling themes, and the highlight of his year was our day trip to the Miramar Landfill, followed by a visit to the city's Environmental Services department to pick up a second blue recycling can. The hysteria reached a fevered pitch last week with the Earth Week celebration (didn't that used to be Earth Day, by the way?) that culminated in his full blown lecture to us about what we should be doing to recycle more at our house.

In the midst of this dissertation, I popped a bottle of wine and discovered to my dismay that it had turned.  Maybe it was the cork taint / TCA issue Kerith wrote about in her previous post.  Or maybe it was just bad wine to start with.  As I walked to the sink to pour out the offending booze, our mini recycling advocate screamed, "No Daddy, don't throw it out - you need to recycle it!". 

OK, enough.  I'm all for recycling, but this was ridiculous.  I already recycle the bottle and the cork.  Now I have to figure out a way to recycle the wine too?  "Sorry bud," I replied in my father-knows-best voice, "you can't recycle the wine - you just have to pour it down the sink." 

That micro-second of parenting detente was quickly extinguished by my lovely wife's input.  "Actually," she corrected, "I just read an article about people recycling their unused wine by turning it into ethanol for car gas."

It took about ten seconds for the pieces of that statement to fall into place for our son.  You could almost see his little brain processing away:  click, click, click....recycling, wine, cars,, click, click....wait, it could all work together!  He could connect his two favorite things in the whole world - recycling and cars - through wine.  To say that his head exploded cannot do justice to the outburst of pure joy that gushed through his little body.

So, pray tell, how does one fill up their gas tanks with unused chardonnay?  Well, I'm going to leave all things science to Kerith.  But, apparently this is a very real thing.  Distinguished periodicals ranging from the New York Times to the Vegetarian Times (yes, really) have covered the story.  In fact, the blurb Kerith found from the Vegetarian Times (via Brigade member Mandy B. - but unfortunately I can't find the article link online) says that the governments of France and Italy are providing subsidies of $630 million annually to underwrite the conversion of unused wine into ethanol for automobile gas.  This older New York Times article mentions over 100 million liters of wine a year being converted into ethanol in France.  Even in Australia they're experimenting with the concept.

So, where does that leave our 5-year old recycling hero's crusade to save the earth?  Well, we're not going to blow up the basement trying to convert crappy wine into ethanol.  But, maybe it'll give us something to do with that smoke tainted wine if it doesn't turn around.....