Veggie Powered Handyman

              Environmentally friendly household repairs

      20 5-star Yelp reviews        

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The Business:

I started "Veggie Powered Handyman" (formerly "Biodiesel Hauling") in 2006..  

For the first 12 years, in addition to handyman work, I also did hauling, delivery, and small apartment moves, using my big orange bio-diesel powered F-250 truck - hence the name "BioDiesel Powered Hauling", and my email address.  I sold the truck a couple years ago, because I have been doing almost all handyman work for a couple years, and I needed something that could double as a family car.
The new ride is still powered 100% by biodiesel.


I am a person who, ever since being a little kid, always loved to tinker with things.  I used to take stuff apart just to see how they worked, and then try to put them back together.  
I went to school with a focus on environmental science, ecology, and biology, with interest in becoming either a park ranger, or a marine scientist for the US Coast Guard.  Life circumstances took a weird turn when I got the job, and then, before training even began, a funding cut eliminated the position.  Stuck needing to pay rent, I put an ad on Craigslist offering to move stuff with my truck or fix minor household issues.  Over ten years later, I'm still doing it.

I have run my vehicles on biodiesel (modified recycled vegetable oil) since I first purchased my old truck, (years before I started the business). 
I've been vegetarian - and committed to minimizing my impact on the world - my entire life.
The Transportation:                                                                                    

For the first decade or so, I had an old (1983) orange Ford F-250 pick-up, which I used for hauling, deliveries, and small moves.  Currently I do about 90% repair work, and since my household's other car is electric, I decided it was time to trade the truck in for something more practical and family friendly.

The new "truck" (car) is still run on 100% Bio-Diesel which is made from recycled vegetable oil

  • Bio-diesel vehicles have been found in studies to have less pollution than "Ultra Low Emission" hybrids.
  • No net CO2 (major greenhouse gas) - all the CO2 in Bio-Diesel was absorbed by the vegetables that produced the oil
  • Renewable - It literally grows in the fields. The oil I use is recycled, so there are no land use or net energy issues - (see FAQ below)
  • Domestically produced. Not relying on imported petroleum means no need for oil based wars.

In my old truck I  made a number of changes (eco-modding)  in order to increase its fuel efficiency.  Combined with careful driving techniques (known as "hypermileing") I was able to increase my fuel mileage by almost 100%.  I regularly got over 30mpg on a tank - higher than the average 2010 passenger car(!) - with an all time high of 38 highway MPG.  This, in a 30-year-old 2-1/2 ton commercial pickup truck. 



The changes I have made include improving the aerodynamics of the vehicle, removing unnecessary accessories, and changes to facilitate safe coasting when appropriate.

Learn more about efficient driving on my blog:

Learn about the mechanical changes I made to the truck on my instructables page (which won runner up in their energy efficiency contest):


The Owner / Driver / Handyman (Bakari Kafele):Bakari, driver, mover, laborer, mechanic, hauler - Richmond

When I am not working as a handyman,
I also am in the United States Coast Guard Reserve, and spend some weekends doing search and rescue on the San Francisco Bay.

For the first ten years of BioDiesel Hauling / Veggie Handyman, I also worked part time for the Bike Station at Berkeley BART station (valet parking bicycles for free) and the BikeMobile (free repairs to school children), to make it easier for people in the Bay Area to get around by bicycle.
(I finally gave up those positions to allow the younger generation more hours and give myself more free time.)
In our car culture it is good to know how many people use a bicycle as their primary everyday means of transportation. 
If you do not own a car, you will receive a discounted rate. 
Also, check out the Bike East Bay
, and become a member!  

For personal transport, I walk or bicycle.  All trips under about 10 miles should be done by bicycle.  If you don't already own one, I have some tips to help you get one.   When I need to get somewhere too far to bike, my motorcycle gets 60-70 MPG.  The Kawasaki EX250 is the most fuel- and cost-effective mass-produced freeway-capable motor vehicle in the US (which also happens to go 0-60 in under 6 seconds!).  I recommend that everyone who needs to travel farther than bicycle distance get a motorcycle.  
My wife drives the Leaf (all-electric car).  You can pick up a fairly recent model year used Leaf on craigslist for under $6000 these days.  Incredible!  Be honest, how often do you go more than 60 miles in a single trip?  Only once in a while?  Us too.  Electricity is both much cleaner and much cheaper than petroleum.

I eat a 100% vegetarian diet - eating low on the food chain means less waste, energy, water, and land used to feed me.  Many people do not realize that our eating habits often are our most significant environmental impacts.

I have always lived a generally low impact life style. I lived most of my adult life in an partially solar powered RV which was inherently super energy and water efficient, because it is designed to allow living totally "off the grid" for weeks at a time.  I paid $15 a month in electricity (about 1/7th the US average). 
Half of my light fixtures were ultra efficient 1-watt LED bulbs.  I used around 80-120 gallons of water a week (the average American uses 100-400 gallons in a day!).  My garden was watered almost entirely by rain water
More detail on in my short video interviews with
My (former) Home            My Transportation           Hauling and Reuse 
And on my blog:

I  bought my first house (without wheels) in 2015, and I meet the standards of the Green Business Program to begin with, although as time and money allows that standard is just the beginning.  So far I've installed solar panels, insulated walls floor and attic, added double pane windows, 3 skylight tubes, upgraded to an instant hot water heater and added a solar pre-heater.  We turned a parking space into a yard and garden and put up a clothesline for ourselves and our tenants to use, as well as replacing all of the tenants water heaters with instant, refrigerators with energy star (thanks in part to a grant from our 100% renewable electricity provider, MCE) and replaced all of their light bulbs with LEDs.


Did you do the conversion yourself / what did it entail?

There is no conversion.  Biodiesel is different from pure straight vegetable oil in that it has been modified through a chemical process to remove the glycerin and make it thinner.  It will run in any diesel engine with no modification to the vehicle. 

Some vehicles have cheap rubber fuel lines, and after a while those may need to be replaced, because biodiesel is a better solvent than petrol (this also means it keeps the fuel system cleaner) On my truck, I had to do this after 2 years.  It cost about $40, and took about 30 minutes.


Where do you get your biodiesel?

The BioFuel Oasis in Berkeley, currently at 4th and Dwight.  It is a woman owned co-op, which retails a high quality fuel from recycled vegetable oil.  It is currently just over $5 per gallon. 

While it is possible to acquire unmodified vegetable oil from restaurants, that method would require more extensive truck modifications, and a system to pump, transport, store and filter the oil.  Purchasing bio-fuel costs more, but anyone with a diesel vehicle can simply pull up to the pump, fill and go, just like with a gas station.


I heard biofuels weren't really much better for the environment than petroleum...

Not all "bio-fuels" are the same.

The most talked about bio-fuel is ethanol.

Ethanol is an alcohol produced by food crops such as corn and sugar, which can be run in gasoline engines in up to 85% blends with petroleum. There is no excess or waste ethanol, so its use as a fuel necessitates crops be grown specifically to produce it, which can be an energy, water, and land intensive process.

Vegetable oil, on the other hand, is used extensively by the food preparation industry, but is not used up.  Vast quantities of used vegetable oil would be disposed of if not used for fuel.  As no new production is used to create biodiesel fuel, the production steps are irrelevant when determining the environmental impact. 


There would not be nearly enough waste oil for all of America's driving habits, however this is more an issue of conservation and efficiency than it is of bio-diesel's emissions.


Another claim is that biodiesel releases almost as much pollutants as petrol.  This is simply factually inaccurate.  In most categories, including particulate matter, long-chain hydro-carbons, ozone, and carbon monoxide, biodiesel has consistently been shown to range from lower to substantially lower in emissions.  In many tests (but not all), it has been shown to be higher in nitrous oxides.  This is a bad thing.  While biodiesel is much better than petrol overall, it is not perfect.


Lastly, some claim it releases equally a much CO2 (considered a major greenhouse gas). This does not take into account the original source:  the CO2 released by petrol has been buried deep under ground for millions of years and would likely never have been returned to the atmosphere if not for our driving.  The CO2 released by burning vegetable oil on the other hand was absorbed within the last year or two by the plants which produced it.  For every molecule of CO2 released, one was absorbed, and one will be re-absorbed by the plants growing in this years crop.  This means the net contribution to total atmospheric CO2 by burning recycled bio-fuels is approximately zero.


Do you have a partner / can you move (some moderately heavy thing-a-ma-jig)?

Its just me.  I have a couple types of dolly, a detachable lift-gate for the really heavy stuff, and most of the time the customer is able to help.  I have moved several 600+lb safes.  I can move all but the heaviest or most awkwardly shaped furniture and appliances up a flight of stairs on my own if need be.

If you have an especially hard job, or the customer is unable to help, I can sometimes arrange for a sub-contractor, with sufficeint notice.  However, I pay my subs the same rate as myself, so this means the rates the customer pays will double.

Please let me know in advance if you expect to need a 2nd person!

You were talking about some interesting / wacky theories of yours when you helped me last week.  What did you say the address of your personal blog was again?

If you aren't looking for anything in particular, start with:


Can I ask you some questions for my school project?

Absolutely.  However, send me an email, not a call.  I tend to put off returning calls that aren't from customers until I forget about them.  I am much better at returning emails.  If I didn't return your call, don't take it as a deliberate snub, it just got lost among my voicemails.


Why is your (original) website ( a .org?  I thought only non-profits could use .org.

Actually, anyone can use .org, (or .com, .net, .info, .us, etc).  It was originally meant to stand for organization (com for commercial, etc) but it doesn't really mean anything. 

I have a .org address simply because someone else had already claimed "", and set a placeholder there.  I asked if he would release the domain, and he refused, saying he was planning to start a biodiesel based hauling service next year (this was over a year ago).  What could I do?  He got to it first. 


Besides, I'm not exactly "for profit". BioDiesel Hauling has no shareholders. I charge just enough to make a living, not the most I could get away with.  Despite my independent green certification and loyal customer base, I charge less than half what most in similar fields charge.  This is because I do not believe in the standard American economic model of market based pricing (I believe it exists and all, in fact I have an associates degree in economics, I just don't believe it's appropriate or moral).


UPDATE: I finally got the person who had reserved "" to release it from it's parked status.  He had a similar business idea, a few months before I first set up my website.  However, he never ended up using the site.  I offered to pay him and let him pick a price.  He refused payment, and transferred the domain to me.  I wrote again, explaining that I am using the site for commercial reasons, and offered to pay, at the very least, whatever he paid for the domain in the first place.  Again, he declined.  He said he agrees with what I'm doing, and to re-invest what ever I would have paid him.


The GoDaddy website (who the domain is registered with) specifically encourages people to register domains for the sole reason of reselling them at a profit to someone who will actually use them.  This person did just the opposite - paid for it, and then gave it away.

Take that capitalism!!

To the guy in question (perhaps he doesn't want his name public, but he knows who he is) you have all of my respect and gratitude.


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