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Santa Barbara News Press: It Really isn't Easy to be Green

April 20, 2008

Opinion: VOICE FROM SAN LUIS OBISPO : It really isn’t easy to be green

Aaron Steed

Meathead Movers has always tried to be environmentally conscious. We’ve made it part of our work philosophy. This means we recycle everything we can, including the boxes we use and ones our customers return to us. We also have a company-wide initiative to go paperless on our moving jobs.

We understand the importance of protecting our natural resources and encourage other businesses to follow suit. The measures we’ve put in place make sense not only for the environment, but also for business. They encourage efficiency in many areas and help create a culture of sustainable and responsible efficiency.

After years of researching alternative fuels, it became obvious that biodiesel was the most economical solution for us. In 2007, Meathead Movers consumed 20,000 gallons of fuel. This year, Meathead projects to consume 30,000 gallons of fuel. So, when the opportunity to use biodiesel fuel in our fleet of 19 moving trucks came about, we jumped on it.

Biodiesel fuel is produced from domestic, renewable resources, such as fats and oils. Biodiesel is simple to use, biodegradable and nontoxic. It reduces carbon dioxide, nitrous oxide, and particulate-matter emissions, making the air cleaner for everyone. We wanted a fuel that was going to have the least amount of negative impact on our environment, and still be competitive price-wise. It can be pumped from regular gas pumps, it isn’t as hard on engines as it used to be and it is becoming more cost-effective as more people are using it.

However, we found out that switching to biofuels is not as easy as we first thought. The number of providers is limited in our area and, to our surprise, our moving trucks are too tall to clear the pump station roofs. We can’t pump the fuel into the trucks. This is definitely a setback we didn’t expect. But we’ve made a commitment to go green, and we’re going to have to find another way. Acting on this commitment was more difficult than we expected; the next step will be to look for other providers in the area.

We feel that as a company, we’ve already made great strides toward making a difference. Along with recycling our cardboard boxes, we use recycled newsprint instead of Styrofoam packing peanuts. The company also relies on skylights to provide natural lighting in our 5,000-square-foot corporate office for most of the year, only using the lights in the winter. Since 2004, we have reduced waste with our company-wide effort to go paperless whenever possible. We prepare and sign documents on tablet PCs and e-mail them so they never have to be printed.

Our idea to use biodiesel fuel didn’t happen as planned, but that won’t stop us from looking for another way for it to happen.

Switching to biodiesel isn’t exactly a black-and-white decision, but we feel confident we are on the right track. We’re going to do more research and look for a way to make this work for our business.

Aaron Steed is CEO of Meathead Movers headquartered in San Luis Obispo.

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