PDA

View Full Version : Global Warming, Carbon Footprints, Al Gore


ritchiem
12-17-2007, 09:42 AM
Keith wrote an article for us. What are your thoughts on this topic? What can you add?

Global Warming. Carbon Footprints. Al Gore. These words are on the lips of many Americans today. As a Lawn Care Business owner, if those words are not on your lips, they should at least be on your mind.

We live in an age of environmental conservatism. I will not step foot into the debate as to whether global warming is a man-made phenomenon vs. a natural cycle which man is powerless to counteract. I will, however, make a statement that all lawn care business owners can benefit by being environmentally aware.

By the very nature of our jobs, we alter our environment. We cut grass, we shape shrubs, and we chop trees. Doing so does not have to be environmentally harmful. Smart lawn care business owners take steps to increase profitability alongside being good stewards of our Earth.

Most lawn care customers want an air of environmentalism from their lawn care provider. This isn’t to say an LCO must give each tree in their yard a name before hugging it but it does mean following conventional standards and being smart about business practices is essential.

Think for a moment how a negligent lawn care operator might damage the environment on a daily basis. Each morning he starts his 5.7 liter Chevy Van, loads his trailer noticing both tires have low air pressure, and drives to the gas station. He fills each of his 5 gallon red plastic gas containers to the rim and drives away without closing the lids completely. Arriving at his first customer’s yard, he lowers the lawn mower blades on his 22″ push lawn mower to the first position and cuts the grass as short as possible. Starting his 5 year old string trimmer is a chore and he fiddles with the fuel mixture settings. It starts with a steady stream of visible blue/grey exhaust. His leaf blower starts in a similar fashion. From excessive exhaust fumes he has breathed, he feels dizzy as he reaches for his 2.5 gallon pump sprayer. He hasn’t bothered to read the weed killer directions and just guesses how much water to add after dumping half the container into his sprayer. After this job is finished, he loads up and drives back across town knowing he will be here tomorrow to do the neighbor’s yard next door.

Wow, what a mess. Without completely tearing this guy apart, we can come up with methods of better performing his business.

Let’s begin with his van. If an LCO is doing large scale work, he probably has a Z-rider and a commercial walkbehind lawn mower or two. At this scale, it is easily understandable that he needs a trailer to haul his equipment and a large engine to pull it. The LCO in our example is just doing 1 yard with a small push lawn mower. Even if he doesn’t have another vehicle available, he can leave the trailer at home and load his lawn mower inside the van. From experience, I know a drop gate trailer can easily cost you 3 miles per gallon from wind drag and extra rolling resistance. Additionally, this guy’s tires have low air pressure. He stopped at a gas station but didn’t bother to air his tires to an acceptable psi. Under inflated tires can quickly drop fuel mileage another 2 miles per gallon.

Fuel containers are not meant to be filled to the rim. On every fuel container there is a fill line. On a 5 gallon container there is 5 gallons of volume up to that fill line. More fuel added is likely to be lost to expansion escape during heating of the day or spillage from the fuel sloshing around. Caps to these containers are often cumbersome to replace properly. Take the effort to keep them snapped securely at all times.

He cuts the grass too short. Most fescue lawns are not meant to be cut ultra short. Tall fescue grows thick when it is allowed to maintain a height of 2 1/2″ to 3″. Thick grass chokes out unwanted weeds and allows for greater drought tolerance. This, in turn, reduces need for weed killers and expensive watering during dry summer months. Speaking of weed killers, our example LCO above did not bother to read the label on his weed killer. Most weed killers will do their jobs at the prescribed mixture levels. I am not sure why we think adding an extra cup of solution to a sprayer will kill weeds faster. However, we have all done it (me included). Next time you mix weed killer, read directions and follow them carefully. You will be amazed they actually work as prescribed and you will save money by not pouring unnecessary chemicals into the earth.

His 2 cycle motors are maladjusted. Any lawn care operator in business for any amount of time knows the difficulty keeping trimmers and blowers tuned year after year. We have all fiddled with the adjustment knobs thinking we were getting it just right. Out of tune motors pour massive amounts of pollution into the atmosphere. If you have any doubt in your ability to adjust a 2 cycle motor, take your equipment to a trained technician.

The last obstacle our LCO faces is a routing problem. It pays to plan your route intelligently. If you have two customers close together, service those clients on the same day. If you have neighbors getting their grass cut, park your van or truck and do them both at the same time. Not only will you reduce travel time and additional fuel expense, you will also reduce the time it takes to load and unload your equipment.

It never ceases to amaze me that if we operate our businesses with an understanding of environmentalism, not only will we help protect our environment but we will also very often reduce expenses while increasing profitability.

Oh, there’s also one other benefit to being environmentally aware…it will keep Al Gore off all of our backs.

Steve
12-17-2007, 10:15 AM
For quite sometime I had been on the fence about global warming, whether it was really happening or not. It does now appear to me that it is and I do think it's good we are all becoming more and more aware of this. I hope we can find more renewable sources of energy that don't adversely effect our world.

I think there are big opportunities for lawn care businesses that focus on this and market it what makes them unique.

What's your view?

FourSeasons
12-17-2007, 10:21 AM
Me and my friend were talking about this and we completely disagree on this.

I'll just keep my thoughts to myself on this but I agree you could definitely use it to your advantage.
The manufactures of the equipment we buy do. Some of them anyways have little things for there new products about lower emisissions or whatever.

ritchiem
12-17-2007, 10:30 AM
I agree that this topic is highly controversial. But how can you go wrong by trying to reduce emissions?

Quote[/b] ]Me and my friend were talking about this and we completely disagree on this.

I am definitely not trying to start an argument by saying this...but are you commenting on Team Gophers comment? Did you read the article?

I am not on the fence about this topic...it is right in front of our eyes. Problems are occurring everyday around the globe. I am all for doing my part by reducing emissions.

FourSeasons
12-17-2007, 10:46 AM
Quote[/b] ]I am definitely not trying to start an argument by saying this...but are you commenting on Team Gophers comment? Did you read the article

Yes I read it. this sounds like a combination of being lazy, not caring, and no common sense that can cause more waste than we realize and thats neccesary.

Little changes like that we could all probably clean up our operation.

Steve
12-17-2007, 10:52 AM
From my perspective I haven't seen too many lcos take advantage of this in their marketing.

What's your view? Have many in your area played this up in their marketing?

Do customers care?

Do they care enough to choose a lawn care operator who is more conscious of such issues?

FourSeasons
12-17-2007, 10:57 AM
I think some would.
I've had a few customers that I did cleanups on their properties and they were very strict about what was to be cut and how much because they were enviromentalists or whatever they call themselves. It was pretty ridiculous.

ritchiem
12-17-2007, 10:58 AM
I have not yet seen anyone in my area try to use this as a marketing tactic. I know of companies in Toronto that use it and I know that in larger cities it can pay off when you have hundreds of companies competing for the same clients.

Steve
12-17-2007, 11:02 AM
If you thought there was more of a call for it, would you jump on doing this?

Can you see anytime in the near future where this would give you a competitive advantage or not for a while?

ritchiem
12-17-2007, 11:08 AM
Well I already make sure that I do what I can but I am not in a market where people seem to care in a sense. I live in apple country where the crop growers freely spray pesticides on windy days http://www.gophergraphics.com/forum/iB_html/non-cgi/emoticons/sad.gif They use there old oil mixed with diesel fuel to start their fires http://www.gophergraphics.com/forum/iB_html/non-cgi/emoticons/sad.gif Too old school here.

But a younger generation is moving in and I believe that they are more environmentally conscious. So one day, it may prove to be effective...just not yet.

realhuntin
12-17-2007, 11:49 AM
Quote[/b] (ritchiem @ Dec. 17 2007,12:08)]Well I already make sure that I do what I can but I am not in a market where people seem to care in a sense. *I live in apple country where the crop growers freely spray pesticides on windy days *http://www.gophergraphics.com/forum/iB_html/non-cgi/emoticons/sad.gif * They use there old oil mixed with diesel fuel to start their fires http://www.gophergraphics.com/forum/iB_html/non-cgi/emoticons/sad.gif *Too old school here.

But a younger generation is moving in and I believe that they are more environmentally conscious. *So one day, it may prove to be effective...just not yet.
I can't agree more Rich. Here where I live it is Tobacco Country, when I was a kid we used old skides to burn plant beds for tobacco plant these old skides where covered in lead paint and other chemicals to treat the wood, as times changed we used gas foggers(unerplastic herbicide pesticide) now it is done in a green house called WATER BEDS or WATER PLANTS no to little enviromental hazards are used. So I see the newer generation farmers making changes for the enviroment.

pmblair
12-18-2007, 11:34 PM
I was trying to avoid this topic, but someone asked me to "chime in".... so here goes...

My brother and I have had this conversation before. He thinks the Earth is on a big cycle... that this will happen every X hundred years or so... "look back at the ice age" he says... which is a valid point... there was an ice age... then the big thaw... and that's supposedly how the continents were separated... blah blah blah

Do I think it's happening? Well, SOMETHING is happening... do I think the Earth is going to "die" because of "global warming"? No. Not at all... I think that people by and far care enough about their environment that SOMEONE or a group of SOMEONEs will find a "solution" to all this. Do I think that we all need to "go green"? Nope. For example... how many of you drive "hybrid" cars? Did you know that the batteries in these cars are made of a nickle composite? Do you know how much energy goes into making ONE of these batteries? How many different countries the "building" process goes through? Then you have the fact that people with these types of cars probably drive MORE than the average American because they CAN because they're "saving fuel"... which in turn, means that they have to fill up more often than if they drove like normal people...

Then you have Ethanol fuels... did you know that it takes enough corn to produce enough fuel for ONE 30 gal tank of gas to feed a person for an entire year?

In a nutshell, am I going to market "Green & Clean" as an environmentally safe company? No. Will I try my best to do what I can to save the environment? Maybe, but in the long run, no matter how much I do to save the environment, there are always people out there who just don't care and will eat up that much more energy... On the flip side of that coin, will I do everything in my power to NOT be environmentally safe? Probably not. I don't intend to waste energy. Why? It simply costs too much. I'll do what I can to make sure I cut my costs in any way possible. If that means mroe environmentally safe or LESS environmentally safe, then whatever. I intend to operate my business in the black as soon as possible and STAY there.

::steps down off soap box:: I could say more, but I think I've already said too much.

ritchiem
12-19-2007, 12:16 AM
Great post pmblair...I thought you were well spoken. I do know that everyone is mixed about this. I just want peoples honest opinions on the topic...of course without resorting to babble.

http://www.gophergraphics.com/forum/iB_html/non-cgi/emoticons/thankyou.gif

pmblair
12-20-2007, 01:38 PM
Thanks Rich... after re-reading that post, I wasn't as harsh as I originally thought I was... http://www.gophergraphics.com/forum/iB_html/non-cgi/emoticons/rock.gif