Eco-friendly lawn care
Last Updated: 17:48 March 28, 2012
BOULDER — The EPA says 5 percent of urban air pollution comes from gas-powered lawn equipment. Additionally, gas mowers use 580 million gallons of gas yearly with 17 million gallons being spilled during the refueling process.
In contrast, the Exxon Valdez Oil Spill in 1989 measured out at about 11 million gallons.
“About two years ago I came across these alarming statistics while surfing the Internet,” says John DeFilippi. “When I found out how much gas powered lawn care equipment pollutes, it got me thinking about this kind of business.”
DeFilippi launched ecological Lawn Care in fall 2009 and started offering services in April. The tagline for his company is “Get your Grass off Gas,” and he takes it the next level by offering low-impact organic lawn-care products as well.
“For residential properties we use cordless electric equipment with batteries that are recharged with wind power, which makes the equipment zero-emission,” DeFilippi says.
He purchases renewable wind power from Xcel Energy.
On larger residential and commercial properties where that kind of equipment isn’t capable of doing the job, he uses propane-powered equipment.
“It’s a much cleaner burning fuel with considerably less carbon dioxide and pollutants as well as being an American resource,” he adds.
As a result, ecoLogical Lawn Care’s electric mowers emit 3,200 times less hydrocarbons and less than half the carbon dioxide of gas mowers. The company’s quieter electric-powered equipment also reduces noise pollution. Gas-powered lawn-care equipment can exceed noise levels of 100 decibels, electric-powered sound in at 75 percent less.
The company’s vehicles run on biodiesel fuel. DeFilippi is currently looking into mounting solar panels onto them so all lawn-equipment batteries can be recharged at the source with solar power.
ecoLogical’s lawn-care services range from cutting, trimming and clean-up to organic fertilization, sprinkler repairs and mulching.
“We’re trying to keep our costs competitive as we grow our client base even though eco-friendly practices are more costly in labor and in equipment,” DeFilippi says. For example, a weekly cut and trim on residential property that’s about 3,000 square feet or less of turf costs about $30.
DeFilippi started the business with about $30,000 of personal funding and recently established a line of credit with AMG National Trust Bank in Boulder.
“Borrowing money these days is challenging, but banks seem interested in loaning to businesses in the green business sector more than others,” he says. “Some are actually seeking eco-friendly businesses. I think they view this as a growth industry.”
DeFilippi anticipates revenue for calendar year 2010 to be $85,000 to $100,000, and for the calendar year 2011 to be $250,000 to $325,000. Customer projections are to have 150 by the end of this season, 250 by June 2011 and 500 by the end of next season.
Currently, the company has about 50 customers.
One way DeFilippi has kept costs down is to start ecoLogical Lawn Care like he did his last business, a local moving and storage company: in his garage.
He started The Right Move Inc., in July 1988 with one truck and one employee. Sixteen years later it grew to multiple locations, a fleet of trucks and more than 100 employees.
“At our height we were doing local, national and international moving,” DeFilippi says. “But we got hurt in the ’99-2000 tech bubble bust, and business almost dried up over night.”
He sold The Right Move in 1991.
With a current staff of four in addition to himself, DeFilippi is sole owner of ecoLogical Lawn Care. He’s been doing direct e-mail marketing to former clients as well as posting door hangers, networking and using social media to reach new clients.
“We’re also building brand identity with our van. I put a full vinyl wrap on it, and people frequently stop when they see it and ask for brochures.”
Winter plans include purchasing equipment, hiring and developing commercial clients.
“There are a lot benefits for businesses and rental property owners to use an earth-friendly lawn-care company. It shows that they’re doing the right thing for the environment and may even help them rent space.”