Women rule this eco-oasis
Female-owned biodiesel station tanks up the Bay Area.
Tue, Sep 29 2009 at 7:34 AM
GOT GAS?: California filling station offers a planet-friendly alternative. (Photo: stampcny/Flickr)
Bust magazine features the women-owned and operated Biofuel Oasis in this month's issue, describing a gas station in the Berkeley, Calif., area that sells only one type of fuel: diesel made from vegetable oil obtained from a string of nearby restaurants. The article reports that five women (Margaret Farrow, Ace Anderson, Novella Carpenter, Melissa Hardy and Jennifer Radtke) met in 2003 as volunteers seeking petroleum alternatives. Each was inspired to "be a Solutionary" and, given the ease of production and promising future of biodiesel, they teamed up to open a new kind of filling station. According to Bust, each of the women maintains an additional full-time job, working for an hourly wage at their fuel cooperative.
Bust quotes Hardy, who refers to the women as "total scrapers" in describing the process of securing the money to open the alternative fuel station: "We had no assets, but we thought, 'Our biggest resource is our community.'" The founders inspired their neighbors to donate $100 toward the cause, raising $40,000 of their $250,000 start-up costs this way.
The Oasis now runs automated pumps (it's credit card only at this gas station), and the building and owners provide services quite unlike those at other gas stations. For one thing, they encourage customers to make fewer trips to the pump: In addition to a regular tank of gas, the BFO sells "carboys," 10- to 20-gallon containers of fuel that customers can take home to cut down on trips to and from the gas station. There are also bulk discounts for customers who buy 250 gallons or more of the recycled fuel. The little store sells not chewing tobacco or soda, but chicken feed or apiary supplies instead. The owners also help to educate the community they want to help sustain. BioFuel Oasis offers classes in basic car maintenance, urban chicken farming, composting, and olive curing among others.