"Veggie Powered Handyman" (formerly "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
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
got the job, and then, before training even began, a funding cut
eliminated the position. Stuck needing to pay rent, I put an
Craigslist offering to move stuff with my truck or fix minor household
issues. Ten years later, I'm still doing it.
I have run my
on biodiesel (modified recycled vegetable oil) since I first purchased
it, (years before I started the business).
I've been vegetarian - and committed to minimizing my impact on the
world - my entire
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.
"truck" (car) is still run
on 100% Bio-Diesel which is made from recycled vegetable
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
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)
produced. Not relying on imported petroleum means no need for oil based
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
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.
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 last
ten years I worked part time for the
Bike Station at Berkeley BART station (valet
parking bicycles for free) and
(free repairs to school children), to make it easier for people in the
to get around by bicycle.
(I just recently gave up those 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
If you do not own a car, you will receive a
Also, check out the Bike East Bay
, and become a
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.
wife has the Leaf (all-electric car). You can pick up a
recent model year used Leaf on craigslist for under $6000 these days.
Incredible! Be honest, how often do you go more
miles in a single trip? Only once in a while? Us
Electricity is both much cleaner and much cheaper than
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
I live 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
$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.
I bought my first house
(without wheels) in 2015, and I meet the
standards of the Green
to begin with, although as time and money
allows that standard is just the begining. So far we've put
into insulation, and I am in the planning stages of installing solar
panels (hopefully to be complete within the next couple months).
More detail in my short video interviews with faircompanies.com:
Did you do the conversion
yourself / what did it entail?
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.
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
do you get your biodiesel?
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
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.
heard biofuels weren't really much better for the environment than
all "bio-fuels" are the same.
most talked about bio-fuel is 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.
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
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.
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.
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.
you have a partner / can you
move (some moderately heavy thing-a-ma-jig)?
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.
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
let me know in advance if you expect to need a 2nd person!
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?
I ask you some questions for my school project?
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.
is your (original) website (biodieslehauling.org) a .org? I
thought only non-profits could use
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.
have a .org address simply because someone else had already claimed
"biodieselhauling.com", 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
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).
I finally got the person who had reserved "biodieselhauling.com" 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.
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.