Building Greener (and Quieter!) Lawn Equipment



We’ve come a long way in the 21st century regarding technology. Phones have gotten smarter, internet has gotten faster, and GPS being commonplace has made printing out MapQuest directions obsolete (remember that??). But then for all those advances, there are areas that leave many of some people scratching their heads.

For Dan Mabe, he wondered why lawn and landscaping equipment still hasn’t moved past their gas-powered standards. Why do landscapers still have to lug around heavy equipment that expel awful chemicals? What dangers do landscapers put themselves in that we just take as normal? Are there any advances in technology to make greening equipment, well, more green? If there are, what are the costs. Is there a premium for such equipment? Are the benefits worth the potential added costs?

Dan and his company American Green Zone Alliance, are “Kicking Gas” on the daily and are here to help spread the word.

Learn more about the AGZA here:

Enjoy the show!

Interview Notes From The Show:

– Hey, welcome back to The Urban Monk. I am back in town. Happy New Year. It’s exciting, 2017’s gonna be exciting. We have a lot of great content planned for you. One of the things if you guys have known me for a while, I’ve got two young kids at home and it’s never quiet. So one of the things I’ve been looking at is noise and what it does to the psyche. With crying babies and barking dogs and you know lawn mowers outside and airplanes over head and all that. Grew up in LA, and it’s just one of those things that you know, are never in a silent area in Los Angeles. Now, a little further south, Sunday’s are pretty quiet. So what I did is I started looking at solutions and I came across Dan Mabe. He’s doing some very interesting work with noise pollution and I say, “Hey come on in, let’s talk about this, “let’s talk about what it does to us as humans “and how it kind of reverberates through our souls “and what we can do to maybe mitigate some of the noise “in our life.” So hey, welcome to the studio.

– Thank you, thank you Pedram. Really happy to be here.

– This is great. I love having real people in here. We do so much like Skype-y stuff so it’s nice to see a human.

– Yeah, I’m glad. We’re just up north in San Fernando Valley. Woodland Hills, and I actually have some business here in Lake Forest today. I’m a certified repair technician for electric lawn and garden equipment and I actually did a repair before I came here so it worked out great. But, we would have came in nonetheless. We love Orange County.

– It’s great down here and so one of the things that I have just gotten accustomed to and it’s a sad state of affairs because urban people are just used to this. There’s the sirens, there’s the helicopters, there’s the planes, all of it. And so, you take it for granted, you start to block it out but at the end of the day it’s still stimulus to your nervous system and it starts to wear on you. And most people don’t even know what silence is anymore. For me, I’ll go into the High Sierras, spend three, four days hiking in, find some meadow and just hear the wind and I’ll forget how much I miss that.

Lawn Mowers Consume 2.1 Bill Gallons of Gasoline Annually - Dan Mabe (@agzainfo) via @PedramShojai

– Yeah, trips to the desert, when I go up north to my dad’s rance in Wellington Nevada, just silence. And then, my wife Esther and I, we drive back down 395, and then hit the 14, the five, and then there’s the 405. And then we’re right back into it. And you do, you, it’s definitely an effect on your psyche, physically speaking, and it puts you in that flight or fight response if you will.

– I’ve actually spent considerable amount of time in that back country and it’s almost like you cross through this envelope where all of a sudden the collective minds of millions of people are reverberating and buzzing you can feel em before you hear em and then you’re in it and it’s just like a boiling pot of water and the molecules are people, right? It’s just And so you had a problem with this. You decided to look into solutions. Tell me a little bit about how you got into this.

– Well, I’m going to give you a quick story. It goes all the way back to my childhood. When I was eight years old, my fraternal twin brother and I, we were separated from our biological family and we were put in some foster care and this one particular foster care home, the man of the house was a gardener. And we spent our weekends and our summers doing gardening work with gas equipment. So, it really goes back that far. So, fast forwarding to today, I played college tennis and then I got into teaching tennis. And, I would be out there on the court and I would have a younger sibling, say like four or five years old with mom. And, then I would have their older sibling on the court and then all of a sudden here comes the lawn crews. And, the first thing is the noise is deafening. And it’s not just deafening, the vibrations that literally go through your body. And understand that gas equipment, lawn and garden, and it’s just the blowers, it’s the mowers, it’s the line trimmers, it’s the hedge trimmers. They operate at lower frequencies and lower frequencies tend to travel farther distances and they can actually penetrate barriers and walls. So, that’s basically how I got into it. The one day that broke, the straw that broke the camel’s back is, the gardener and I at my tennis facility, we kept going at it back and forth. I said, “Look I don’t want you to operate this bleeping “blower while I’m here.” And it came to a head one day, and I went home really upset and I said, “You know what, I want to find out what to do about it.” So, I circled back to my roots in the landscape maintenance industry and I started to research every gas alternative besides just manual tools. Manual hand tools. And I started one of the first all electric manual tool, low noise, zero emission, maintenance companies. And that’s basically how I got into this, but to your point, it was the noise. That was the starting point because that’s what we all hear.

– It it as good? Like, when you have an electric lawn mower, does it get the job done as well? Is it less horsepower, less oomph?

– That’s a great question. When I first started out back in 2007, absolutely not. We were using technologies, let’s say, we’ll go to battery chemistries. SLA, sealed lead acid, NiCd, nickel metal hydride. They were brush motors and it wasn’t up to the task. So, you really had to want to do that to make it work and we did. But, fast forward to today where we have technology for this industry that parallels the electric car industry. We have sophisticated circuitry, protection circuitry. That powers brush-less motors and advanced lithium battery technology and not the kind that you see on TV where they’re having accidents and problems with the batteries. These are chemistries that are very safe and actually our organization tests and vets the manufacturers that supply this equipment.

– You know what’s funny is late junior high, early high school, I guess my dad’s progressive, he got us an electric lawn mower and one of the my chores was to get out there and do it. It was on of my early tests of mindfulness because I had to remember not to run over that frikkin cord. And, I’m pushing this thing thinkin about girls and cars and I’m just like, “Oh, oh” right? Like it made me have to focus.

– I love that story because when I started this company we were using corded equipment back in 2007, 08. I wish I would’ve started that company today because the technology, as we’ll get into a little bit later, is just phenomenal. But, I remember running over a cord and then when we would do houses with pools, I’m like, “Hey get that cord out of the pool.”

– [Pedram] That’s a problem.

– So yeah, I’m really happy that your dad had the wisdom to buy you that and I was just, I was speaking with one of your staff members and we were talking about mowing the lawn as a kid and since you mentioned that too, I love the fact that you mowed lawns, I mowed lawns. We need to bring kind of that back I think, but with of course zero emission, quiet equipment. But, just getting out there and working with the earth and being outside and having the value of doing work like that, even as a hobby, I think goes a long way for our youth and us as adults.

– It’s funny is, there’s a couple components to it I’m sure and we’ll tease this out but, I try to spend as much time as I can at home walkin the dogs, taking the kids just outside. And so, you have the noise pollution right? So I got the guys on the, neighbors have gardeners and stuff, they’re blowin down the street. And then you also have the toxic fumes. Like I, we take off our shoes, we go in the house, we eat organic, we do all this crap and then you go walk by someone who just gasses you with petroleum and all sorts of nasty stuff. And you’re like, “Great, thanks for the cancer.” Right?

– Exactly

– And so we have this thing down the street, whenever I walk by I have this understanding with the neighbor’s gardeners and stuff, they just kind of like stop for a second. I’m like, “Don’t, my kids don’t need that shit.” Right? And so we have this tacit understanding that they’re very respectful as like I walk by with the kids. And I think to myself, this is someone’s dad. Like, he’s huffin this paint all day. He’s taking these toxic fumes and so there’s got to be a better way and that’s also why I’m really excited about this. There are technologies that work.

– You know, it’s great that you mention that because again, noise was the primary reason, but working in this industry as a young kid and then circling back to it, and really understanding the full spectrum of impacts that underlies this industry. And, no one has been wanting to touch it with a 100 foot pole. But, when you look at it as a whole, what comes out of those tail pipes? Benzine, formaldehyde, nox emissions, carbon monoxide. For the worker that works with it six, eight hours a day and they’re inches from the tail pipe, wow. No one really, we can see that 85% of the grounds maintenance workforce anecdotally speaking, does not wear proper ear protection, eye protection, or respiratory. And then you know, you have other things like solid waste, toxic waste creation. These are things that we learned when we shadowed 10 gardening crews for a period of six months. We were able to track how many oil bottles that they created from maintaining their gas engines. We witnessed parking lot tune-ups where they would do tune-ups in the parking lot, save money, save time. We would ask them, “well, what happens to that “toxic soupy mix that you just washed all your parts in? “What do you do with that?”

– It’s in the ocean.

– Yeah, well we dump it in the bushes or it ends up in a landfill. So, we really uncovered a really toxic industry and what’s amazing is the technology of electric, the way it stands today, it can really, really almost entirely eliminate all of that in one fowl swoop just by converting from fossil fuel operations to electric and manual. The combination of using manual tools.

– So side by side, first of all manual tools, I love it because frankly we all pay all this money to go to the damn gym and if we just got outside and got some sun and used our bodies it wouldn’t hurt us, right? So, we’ll put that aside for now cause that’s contentious. Side by side, if I wanted to buy an electric powered set. So it’s like, lawnmower, blower, weed trimmer, whatever to a gas powered, how much more or is it comparable like pricing wise?

– Okay that’s a great question. Right now AGZA is working with one particular manufacturer.

– AGZA is your organization?

– Yes, and that is the American Green Zone Alliance. We’ve been working with a lot of manufacturers to help promote the clean technology itself. But going back to your question, we’re going to be launching the National Green Zone Initiative. And the manufacturers have said so far that this spring when we launch it that they would bring the price down for people to just swap out their entire suite of gas equipment and exchange it for electric. I would say for homeowner versions, you’re gonna pay possibly 20% to 25% more

– [Pedram] Up front.

– Up front.

– Then cost of gasoline, oil, and maintenance versus…

– Versus kilowatt hours. So, basically the cost of refueling your gas versus recharging the electric. And then, we have found that electric, both residential and commercial, it’s 1/130th the maintenance frequency if there’s any maintenance at all. I mean, we have some blowers that we set up in our very first Green Zone, Commercial Green Zone at Malibu Country Mart. Four years later, almost no issues whatsoever.

– Still running.

– Still runs, so we think that in about two years time both residential and commercial, you’re gonna recoup your money. And then after that you’re gonna be what we call, “In the gravy.”

We've Become Used To Being Poisoned By Gasoline Fumes Dan Mabe (@agzainfo) via @PedramShojai

– Okay, two years isn’t very much. If you hate the noise pollution, it’s well worth it. And then, you know I personally, I’m never home and da da da da, so we have a gardener that comes. I would gladly pay a little bit more to have that thing, the Saturday mornings when I’m home not rattle my windows and wake me up. You know what I’m saying, so if, you know I’m saying this to the world at large. If there are gardening companies that offer this type of service, I would gladly pay a premium to help them refinance their equipment. Eventually everyone’s gonna have to go that way. So we just have to nudge it.

– That is such a delight to hear from someone because again, the return on investment isn’t just the monetary expenditure. It’s an investment in the workers, it’s an investment in our community, our quality of life. A couple of months ago, actually how I ended up on this show, I did a symposium on Long Island New York. We are currently doing an AGZA certification project for the city of Southampton. They’re going to Green Zone the East Quogue Park and I met a gentleman and I’d like to mention his name. Ted Ruder from Noise Free America. And we were also there with Jamie Banks of Quiet Communities, and an organization called Huntington C.A.L.M. You can see all of them have this noise at the top of their, and you keep going back to it as well. So yeah, the investment in peace and quiet, I really feel that you can’t put a price on that.

– Well, people don’t even know about it, right? Because I have, you know it’s funny, my parents are very different. My father likes peace and quiet, unless you talk to him he’s not talking back. He’s just a chill dude. My mom grew up in a house with seven siblings and like, when she’s in a house and it’s quiet, she turns on the TV or the radio to fill the- And it’s a sensibility for me where I’m like, “Wow, this is chaos, this is too noisy. “Like, why are you doing this?” And so certain people are so accustomed to the noise that they need the noise and so they can’t relax into the silence. And so that’s a big thing with humanity is we’ve gotten to the point where we can’t get out of the noise because the silence almost scares us and to me that’s a problem.

– You’re giving me the chills right now. I personally have issues and challenges with that.

– [Pedram] With too much noise?

– No, it’s so noisy but when I finally, like I said when I can escape to a place of peace and quiet up in the mountains, out in the desert, I still hear a gas leaf blower winding in my head. I’ll lay down at night and I’ll hear it all day long and it just replays and replays and replays. And, it is very challenging to embrace and enjoy the silence when it’s there for you. But, I will say when we set up these Green Zones and Green Zones are dedicated areas that are maintained only with manual tools and electric alternatives. There’s no gas allowed to that party. An example of our biggest Green Zone conquest if you will, South Pasadena, the city of.

– The city of South Pasadena is a Green Zone?

– The entire city is a Green Zone, but let me explain. Every single city property is mandated electric, no gas.

– Residential or, okay just the city municipal properties.

– No, just the city properties but it’s over 40 serviceable properties. 40 serviceable acres, I’m sorry. And I like the approach that they took. They didn’t pass an ordinance and say, “You can’t do this, you can’t do that.” AGZA is in favor of bands and ordinances when first a city is willing to set the example and provide adequate resources and make that transition. That’s what works best. Right now, we have a lot of Emails coming in from South Pasadena residences, five this month asking, back to your point, is there a clean air gardener or a low noise gardener available to come and do my house. Cause they can see what’s going on. So, we can see what the city has done, now the residents are starting to follow suit and they see the value in it.

– That’s also a big reason I mean, progressive cities usually end up leading, being on the cutting edge of these things because once you set a policy, you start to mandate that policy, and things start to happen. So, he progressive kind of open minded people in South Pasadena have now created an opportunity for the people of Pasadena to see a better way. And, I think that’s a good use of municipal authority, power, whatever. So my question is, “Are there people?” Like you know, I would love to find one of these guys today. I will personally, if you’re in my neighborhood, I’ll invest in the equipment to swap it out to make that the case in my neighborhood. It’s so much better.

– You know, I need to see if we did have one Orange County operator and I’m gonna call him today. It’s been such a long time I actually- He had a very generic name, it never had connotation to clean air and quiet and I always wondered why. But, I’m gonna circle back today and try to find him and if I do, of course, I’m gonna connect you guys. But, there are several on our site and, in fact, we are putting the finishing touches on our commercial certification for independent operators. Right now we have a municipal certification and we’re gonna be adding the residential and this commercial certification that will allow these one and two men crews to go out and we can help them market their business and get them a client base to allow them to be in existence and have a reason to be in existence and compete against the gas counterparts.

– So, they have to be somewhat more competitive because they have a higher cost structure at first. Cost basis at first, basically that’s it. After a while they’ll recoup their money. I mean, but I would play this, right? Like if I were to, and this is not my line of work, but if I were to start a landscape company and I have a couple people in my Urban Monk Academy who own landscape companies, so pay attention Kristy. Is I would have them wear shirts that had kind of branded thing you know, noise free, pollution free, and have it be a spectacle in the community so people come up and ask and have them give a pamphlet about this stuff so that it educates the community and spreads. And, it seems like such a no brainer to do it that way.

– And we really are trying to help companies like that, absolutely. I would say even as far back as four years, the equipment was at a point where, okay can I dive in, am I gonna recoup my money? And I’m speaking about a person who does this and makes their living this way because once they invest in that equipment, that’s it. They rely on this to feed their families and, you know, pay their bills, to pay their mortgage. I think the equipment now is to the point where they can confidently make this investment and know it’s going to last and have that durability. There’s only a handful of companies that the American Green Zone Alliance really will- It’s not even endorsement. We actually put their equipment through the paces. We have it beat up in situations beyond the point that’s realistic to makes sure if we stand behind something that it’s going to operate within our Green Zone areas because these are certified areas that are mandated no gas, all electric. You have companies like Mean Green, it’s a great little company in Ohio. Middle of the country, American made, have a great relationship with them and a company that makes only electric equipment, Greenworks. We noticed that the companies that are dedicated electric manufacturers versus the ones that are gas and electric, they’ve just given an electric offering to be part of the party just in case this thing goes and shifts so far towards the electric way, they’re gonna be in the conversation.

– So question. I was tellin you offline, I don’t even have a lawn anymore cause we grow food and we’ve, you know, southern California we can’t like, there’s no water. So, we have an edible landscape, I’ve transformed it. But, even the space that I had in my southern California suburb, whatever, it’s like 10 minutes at most. I’m sure any electric lawn mower can handle that. But, if I’m a professional and I got 19 houses to hit today, is the battery gonna handle it? How does someone professionally, like do you have swap out batteries? Like how does it work if you need to be out there you know kinda hoofin it all day?

– Absolutely. Well, there’s two ways. There’s equipment out there that literally on the lawn mowers, blade to grass, seven to eight hours. And this is how we’ve been able to achieve over 120 acres of mandated electric only certified areas, AGZA certified areas. For the hand equipment for example, they have backpack batteries now instead of wearing a gas motor on your back for the blower, you’re gonna wear a backpack that’s a battery. It will power the suite of tools. The line trimmer, the blower, the hedge trimmer, even a pull chainsaw. The line trimmer on those back pack batteries, you can get up to three and a half, four hours on one charge, up to six hours on one charge for the hedge trimmer. So the capacity, the run times have arrived.

– [Pedram] Awesome.

– Yep.

– Awesome, what a great time to be alive. Like, we’re right in the midst of a revolution. I mean Tesla’s puttin wall batteries in people’s houses and all that. It’s just when you’re in it, it’s hard to see, but this is a renaissance. Like, finally we’ve been waiting for the technology to be able to do this. To drive us around in our cars, to do everything. And I see this as an obvious swap. So, here’s my question and maybe this kind of big brothery but, are there any impediments? Is there any pushback? Is there any sort of kind of political issue that comes around this that’s stopping the flow?

– Let me answer this question carefully. I would say in my experience, I am a little bewildered why this has not been embraced more by cities and groups and organizations who have the green mantra. You know, especially when we basically try to give them the facts as they are. And, I’m still kind of waiting but, instead of pointing the finger and saying, “You’re not doing this, you’re doing other things, “why not this?” We just keep moving forward and setting the example and it looks like we’re finally starting to make some headway but, I would say that the lobby groups for outdoor power industry, if you want to call it big oil whoever it is, understand that oil profits just from lawn and garden equipment in southern California is over 120 million dollars a year. And that is now and these are, these are numbers that we always are conservative on. When we know that the average mow, blow, and go gardener two man crew uses nearly 400 gallons a year. Just in LA county alone there’s an estimated 40,000 operations. So when you do the math, I mean it’s just astronomical. So there are powers that be that are definitely resistant to this change. There is no doubt about it in my mind.

– Do you know the national number or has anyone done that? = Yes, for lawn and garden not including diesel, every year we use 1.2 billion gallons of gas we burn through for this industry.

– Times two bucks a gallon on average…

– Oh that’s a great question. I would say if we look at gas and we go back to the- We go on a six year scale and we average that out, I would say at three dollars and 50 cents approximately.

Modern Technology Is Helping Us Live Cleaner, Healthier Lives - Dan Mabe (@agzainfo) via @PedramShojai

– Nationwide or?

– Well, that’s more California, you’re right. We’re gonna have to go probably around in the two 90s nationwide.

– So, we’re talkin north of three billion, close to three and a half billion dollars in revenue. Yep, yep. And you know what listen, these guys are tryin to eat too, but look I don’t buy that shit. If it’s polluting the air and we have a better use of the energy, you know, source that is less toxic, less noise pollution then that’s the answer. And so, this is the problem we see in our political sphere. We were talking about this when i showed up just before the show. I was talking about water capture for my house and what that looks like and whether it was legal and it’s still kind of up in the air because when the original, when the original water rights contracts were made in California, these guys laid out a bunch of infrastructure. And then basically went to the municipalities and said, “It’s illegal to capture water.” So you have to tell the homeowners that they don’t have permission to capture water because we want to sell it to them to recoup our investment. So, it became illegal for me to capture rain water which to me seems like an inalienable human right, right? Like, it makes something turn inside of me. And so these are the things that we face with just kind of the basics of what it means to be human here and these are things that we have to push back against.

– No doubt about it and especially on your property. My dad’s a hay farmer in Wellington Nevada. He relies on water, an allotment from the snow pack in the Sierra Nevadas. When you go and tell a farmer, “Hey, you can’t use water to grow food.” it just becomes really contentious. And you have to wonder, he tells me, Okay, we have the big political group down south who wants the water to just pass go and go right down there and not allow the farmers to use it. So we know that there’s some big turning wheels behind any kind of agenda that wants to tell you that you can’t do something.

– Tell you dad that he should be cool with me because I tore out my lawn.

– And you’re growing food.

– And I’m growing food for my kids. That’s a big problem right? Souter California steals water from northern California and these are the wars of the future by the way.

– And they are, and I’ve been privy because speaking about water by the way we have worked with three different companies: Evergreen, they are an all electric company commercial. In fact we did a Green Zone at the Torrance America Baseball Field. It’s the very first sports complex that’s an AGZA certified sport complex. This company is great. They’re using organic fertilizers on the grass where the kids are playing ball. And, we’ve also done a lot of biochar installation with em. If you’re going to have the turf, Pedram, we might as well do it as sustainable as possible. And what we’ve been able to do is develop a installation methodology that is saving anywhere form 20 to 40 percent on turf watering. And this biochar, you get it underneath, underneath the root and basically retains the water and it sequesters chemicals. And, it’s just a really great thing and we spoke about the bigger green spaces for our communities. It makes sense to have grass in those situations, but you know if you’re on your home and you want to grow food and lower your impact instead of buying food at the grocery store that comes from Chile or from Mexico or somewhere else while we’re shipping all of ours out somewhere else, I think that’s a great concept and AGZA definitely promotes that first and foremost.

– I love that. There’s a lot there. First of all before I drop this thought, give me a list of the companies that you guys like, we’ll link to the AGZA website, but like if you’re an investor, if you’re investing in you know whatever your 401K goes to and all this stuff, you should look at where that money goes. Cause a lot of it will go to Exxon Mobile, a lot of it will go to some of these big companies that aren’t doing the right thing. And, you already mentioned two or three companies that I like, and so if I’m gonna buy stock, I’m gonna buy stock in companies that are working towards a solution. I’m gonna vote by hiring a gardener that uses that equipment and that’s how we change the world, right? So, conscience capitalism means voting with your money and so I like what I’m hearing about these companies. And like, this ain’t my uncle’s company. I don’t even know these people, but that’s where I would rather have my money go.

– Absolutely. I would say on the local level, Evergreen as I mentioned. If you go to, you will see a list-

– [Pedram] A, G, Z, A?

– Yes, A, G, Z, A. You will see a list of gardeners that have dedicated their efforts to going all electric for lower noise and to be a service of the community. And they definitely need help and they need accounts. So, please go on there and if you see that they’re in your area, give em a call and see if they can help you out. Just one in Chino Hills, Green Gardening Service. It’s owned by Eddie Peralta, he’s a veteran. And he’s also a police officer and he saw the wisdom in going this way. This is a company that’s on the rise. They’re out in Chino Hills. And then as far as manufacturers go, Mean Green as I mentioned, Mean Green Mowers out of Ohio, Greenworks out of North Carolina, and then-

– [Pedram] Made in America.

– In America, it’s great. So those are some of the ones that are just are off the top of my head but I would say go to the site and go through it and we would have a list for everybody to go through line by line.

– I love it, I love it. Noise is a big deal, air pollution’s a big deal, and the ability to transfer some of this revenue to an emerging electric power industry. We did a lot of interviews for my next movie called Prosperity about this, you know there’s a lot of energy around the organic movement and it started in some, you know, mom and pop hippie shops in the 60s and it started to take hold. But, it was the people, the early adopters that were willing to pay that extra 20%, probably higher at that point, margin to get the good stuff, get the right stuff, make it work that now has Whole Foods being a multi billion dollar company employing 88,000 people and really investing in all this infra- It’s created an entire industry. And so for us, if we want to see this be a future, we have to vote with our dollars and make that a reality.

– Absolutely, and I really appreciate you pointing that out because you know, it’s gonna take the people who hire the gardeners. If they’re willing to pay 10% more, but circling back, I think the technology’s so good now, I think that these companies can offer the same amount of service that is very competitive against gas. And, it’s interesting. All of this conversation always started back with noise and I want to circle back to, we talked about companies, but lets talk about some of the non profits who have been so instrumental in saying, “Wait a minute, there’s something here. “We need to show this to everybody.” Non profits like Noise Free America. I want to go back to that. When you go to their site, it’s not just lawn and garden, but it’s an entire list of noise issues that ails our society. And then, Jamie Banks of Quiet Communities, we’ve done a lot of work with them nationally. And then, I want to mention Sonoma C.A.L.M up north. They’re a community action group, just like Huntington C.A.L.M on Long Island. And, at first it was like, “Okay, we just don’t like “gas leaf blowers, we don’t like the noise.” But since we’ve been working with them, they kind of see this holistic picture of like, wait a minute, we can’t just look at one piece of equipment. We need to look at this entire industry and we opened their eyes to, okay there’s humans involved. There’s workers, there’s people involved. And we’re very, very happy that they’ve kind of embraced the idea that we need to make a change and a shift for the entire industry.

– Yeah, what’s funny is if someone had the patience, tolerance, and interest in doing a meta analysis of health care dollars spent on landscape workers and stuff that was related to toxicity, I bet you that number would be much more than that 10, 20 percent margin in using the petroleum period. Right, and no one’s willing to look at that because our tiered society and like you know just these, the gardeners tend to be first generation or second generation immigrants and like you know, it’s like you’re lucky you have a job and all this shitty stuff that happens in our culture, right? And so like if this was the children of people in the Pacific Palisades, it would be up in arms.

– Absolutely. What’s interesting is you’re right. They’re mostly first generation immigrants, but I’m going to when I get back to my desk today, I’m going to send you some videos and we actually have a few gardeners that are caucasian guys because it’s for everybody. It’s an industry for everybody, but these are guys out doing the work and we actually they allow us to shadow their crews and we have full access to their habits, how much gas they use, they’re completely forthright. I’m gonna send you some of these videos, but again the industry as a whole with like you said that’s mostly first immigration, are first-

– Generation.

– Generation. Mostly from latin countries. They tend to stay quiet and not complain, we notice because they are happy to just have a job. But, I agree with you. Where are we at now? We have it.

– Yeah it’s shitty.

– We have it and we should get behind it more.

– And we’re better than that. And we’re better than that. That’s not appropriate, that’s not how you’re your brother’s keeper, right? And so, I had the other day our gardener was over and his kid and I didn’t know about any of this so you know, just guilty as charged just ignorant. But like you know, he’s over there with his kid and his kid’s out there just standing behind him as he’s blowing the stuff so I like I go grab the kid and bring him inside and have him play with mine. I’m just like at least get him out of the wake of this crap, right? And, it’s just one of those things where it’s like, “Man, you’re putting endocrine disrupting chemicals in this young child’s system and you know I’ve had a gagillion shows talking about what that does to the internal physiology and you know the challenges with the health conditions of America come from this crap, right? And so, this kid deserves better.

– You know what’s interesting is when I go to these symposiums, I deal with industry. The guys that manage the crews, that own the companies, and then the workers themselves. And they tend to be a pretty tough group, but, I come from that group. I’m not intimidated at all and I give it to em straight. And, I tell em, “Look these are the facts.” Even though, Pedram, there’s not a lot of studies out there that can link the use of this equipment to ill health effects, but I can tell you it’s affected my health personally and there are studies starting to surface now that we’re finally shedding some light on it. And, I’m so glad you’re bringing these points up. I wanted to, I did make a little note here. I went up to the California Air Resources Board and did a three minute testimony in front of their president and the governing board there and then we had like a little symposium. And, they did a new study and this is something that I really kind of knew for a long time. The emission inventory for lawn and garden equipment I thought was a little understated. And, this new study not only included emissions from combustion, but also they factored in evaporative emissions. So basically, when you have a lawn mower or a gas piece of equipment sitting in your garage, it’s basically slowly leaking pollution out there. So now that they factored in this evaporative pollution, and this is a new study so I’m gonna have to reference it cause I know most of em at the tip of my tongue. But basically what they determined is that ROGs, reactive organic gases and nox, which is nitrogen oxides which is the precursor for smog forming ground level ozone or a major contributor to it from lawn and garden and other small off road engines, they’re going to exceed pollution of light duty vehicles and passenger vehicles especially in the basin here, the souther California basin by 2020. That’s in three years, so. It’s pretty crazy.

Lower Sound Frequencies From Gas Mowers Can Penetrate Barriers And Walls - Dan Mabe (@agzainfo) via @PedramShojai

– What?

– It’s pretty crazy. And, it’s a testament, it really is a testament to their work to really clean up the vehicle industry. But now-

– This unregulated other industry.

– Thank you and you just said it, it’s unregulated. And it was great that they recognized it and it’s great that they said in principle, “Hey, we understand it, we finally recognize it.” The California Air Resources Board, we’re so grateful to them and we’re actually very excited cause we’ve been having a lot of discussions with them of how to scale this. I do want to mention this. For the average homeowner, you said, “How much is it gonna cost to replace “all my gas equipment with electric.” So, if we can get past the cost which we should be able to, it’s basically plug and play. But, when you are asking an entire grounds maintenance work force of probably over 100,000 workers in California alone to just say, “All right, we’re gonna use electric now.” A lot of it can be plug and play and that’s a testament to the manufacturers such as Mean Green with their industrial design. However, we have noticed it’s just not gonna be that easy. You really need to get in there and when we do this certification, this training, this interaction with the worker, we’re actually kind of re- We’re socially re-engineering their approach and their thought process and you would be surprised. These guys, these first generation fellows that we just mentioned, they’re really starting to say, “You know what, this is my health. “This is better.” And they’re gonna start more and more asking their managers for it. So we really are, we’re on the cusp I think to having a big shift here.

– Okay, I love this for multiple reasons. If you are involved in a homeowners association, I want you to bring this to your board immediately and change the bylaws of your HOA to require this. What it’s gonna do is it’s going to be an advertising point to bring up property values of the entire neighborhood. Net, net, you’re appreciation in real estate is going to crush the amount of material cost of getting this stuff so it’s a no brainer. If you can afford to do it for your own house, if you mow your own lawn, look into it immediately cause you’re getting cancer from standing behind that thing. And then if you have, and this is easy, my guy who probably does 20 houses in my neighborhood, I’m happy to do a no interest loan to him to pay off the equipment and help him with it.

– That’s great.

– Right, and just make that kind of lateral jump. I have a couple friends that are in funds and all this. There’s direct public offerings, there’s a lot of ways to raise capital nowadays. I’m happy to talk to anyone who wants to kind of raise capital and do kind of a crowd source of like you can get a whole community and everyone put in invest in that community. And then that landscaping company is part of the collective and it can go out. There’s a million ways to fund this. And then just off of the top of my head, as I was voting this last November I was going through all these like ballot initiatives for California going, “Who the hell write this crap? “How is this even here?” And then I realized wow, why don’t I just write a ballot initiative. Right, so you can just as easily take this and make it a ballot initiative for your state or your city, put all the factors in there, get it done. It becomes the law of the land and then you know, the industry will be forced to fund it and so we have to find creative ways to get the mom and pop guys to not suffer, right?

– Yeah and that is the key, reaching out to that demographic and somehow offsetting that initial pain of conversion if you will.

– But you know what? Here’s the thing. There’s a lot of studies right now that show that micro lending, especially to women, has been like a lot of these companies have like 99% payback on loans, micro loans to women in third world countries that pay way better and get much better return on investment than lending money to big companies and governments that default. And so, I you know, my gardener’s a good man. That’s an easy micro loan thing. So, I mean I can call up one of my micro loan people, find out a way to just get these guys to come in and like rapidly pay that off and they get a 10% bump. It’s not a problem. This is where market dynamics come in and really shift things. I trust my gardener to pay his bills because he shows up and he works everyday. He’s not a lazy ass, right?

– Exactly. You know before I came on the show they’re like, “Hey, what kind of show is that? “Who are the listeners?” And, I am so glad I came on the show because again, I am learning things just when I came in to the studio here. I learned a lot of great things just watching other podcasts and it’s so refreshing to hear these ideas that some of them we just really, we’re out there doing this work and we haven’t been able to think of these angles. So, thank you so much for pointing these out. I think a good way to kind of implement these micro loans if you would, I think the gardeners should have some skin in it and my idea was always, let’s offset the energy cost. They should buy the tool and then the energy, that battery that represents and I would definitely like to, I brought in a prototype here today. And I definitely could explain this, but that battery itself represents five, seven years of gas. If we can help bring down the cost of the battery and they invest in the tool then I think that would be a great program.

– How much does this thing cost?

– That okay, so that is a prototype right there.

– This is so Back to the Future right now. Mean Green.

– So, what’s interesting is so I can get up and walk around, sure.

– Here, I’ll just bring it around this way. There we go, for using the-

– Thank you very much.

– Uh huh.

– Now this prototype that you see down there, can we put the prototype up here?

– Where is it?

– It’s right on the bottom there.

– Okay, Shawn will grab it.

– So… Let me close this up, okay.

– So that’s an electric blower?

Noise Pollution Naturally Puts You In A Fight Or Flight Response - Dan Mabe (@agzainfo) via @PedramShojai

– So yeah, this is a prototype blower, but I’ll go over to the battery. Now this is something that the workers wear on their back. It’s lighter than the gas blowers that they normally have on their back. This powers their full line of tools but this also powers this incredible prototype that I’m going to talk about in a sec here but. Look at this Pedram. This just slides in and out.

– How many years of gasoline?

– This can represent up to seven years of gas. Up to seven years, this specific chemistry that Mean Green is using for their batteries and the way it charges and discharges depending on the tool and the maintenance area, you can get five to seven years on it. So it slides in and out and what’s cool about this for the workers, hear that fan? We really do want to improve the working conditions.

– Wait is that cooling their back?

– It’s cooling their back when they’re using it, exactly.

– That’s pretty cool. And you know, what I would add to that if they don’t have it is EMF shielding just for the battery and having the battery there. So Mean Green, it’s not hard to do EMF shielding. And so that’s one of the things that you know, would basically make this like zero hit. Right?

– Exactly, exactly. Now, this particular piece of equipment-

– Can we plug this sucker in?

– We are gonna plug it in.

– I’ve always wanted to shoot an electric cannon.

– Let me go and now this, let me explain the technology really quick.

– Let me move your water, yep.

– Thank you. Alare Technologies, an aerospace company, brilliant, brilliant minds. They started a little start up. They were all engineers for AeroVironment. And, we asked them, “Can you make us something special?” There’s wireless technology. Basically there’s an app on my laptop where I can control and change the functions of the blower and let’s just say I am a ground manager at a university and I have five of these. From my app, on a phone or on the computer, I can control the functions of the blower so it can operate more efficiently. Cause if you get to the users, they want to go full blast. You can actually calibrate it to your specific settings.

– You can throttle back.

– Yeah, throttle back. And, I’ll just go ahead and you can, we’ll hold it right there.

– Does this need to be on?

– Nope. So, I’m just gonna…

– Let’s see if we can blow Shawn over here.

– Okay.

– Oh that’s great! That’s so fun. He has hair so you can see it go back.

– Exactly, you and I, not so much but-

– Not so much!

– Now this-

– By the way, that was like at least 12 feet.

– Yeah. This will boast 500 CFM, cubic feet per minute. It has great spread, good air volume, and it’s about 105 miles an hour out of the nozzle. They have found the sweet spot between miles per hour out of the nozzle and CFM, it’s more than adequate, rivals a gas blower, and it doesn’t go above 58 DB during operation-

– [Pedram] Decibels.

– Yeah, decibels.

– And a normal blower is?

– They can go all the way up into the 90s. And, they claim they have some backpack models that are around in the 70s or below, but we have yet to really go out there with our sound meters and validate that, yeah.

– Verify.

– So I thought this would be a fun thing to bring in. The technology, one last thing. I did tell CARB, “Listen we have this technology, “you can use it and then you can actually print out “what the software in there will do “is it will show all of the reductions “of all the specific pollutions that come from gas.” So, when you replace a gas unit, it will tell you how much emission sequestration or prevention you’ve done and we would like them to promote this technology in manufacturing so end users can use it if they reach a benchmark of zero emission operation through the year, they should be rewarded. They should be rewarded with a tax credit if you will.

– [Pedram] I love that.

– So, we feel that promoting technologies from aerospace companies like this, that could scale in larger productions for all equipment and incentivize you know getting off the fossil fuels. That’s one thins I definitely wanted to show you, Pedram.

– So this is a prototype.

– This is a prototype.

– How can someone get something comparable to this. I mean, obviously this is not for commercial sale yet.

– No, but if you go to, we have our preferred manufacturers and the ones that we have listed there are the ones that are legitimate commercial companies that have proven their products in our mandated Green Zones. And, Stihl has made a backpack unit that does quite well. Like I had mentioned, Greenworks and then Mean Green. We’ve only identified three commercial capable companies that make something worthy, but we hope to be adding a few more to that list in 2017 that we’ve been researching and speaking with

– I love it. And, you’re a good man, I’m so happy to be able to support this. Do you have the website again?


– .net If you’re watching this, you understand the promise of this type of technology now. Vote with your dollars, invest in this. You want to see a better world, you want to see a better future. Are you a part of that or not? Are you waiting for someone else to do it or are you gonna do it in your life, your community, your neighborhood? I’m in. I’m gonna find a way to get this in my community immediately even if I have to buy a whole set and make em use it for my neighborhood.

– Well, I know there’s a cleaner gardener down here. Like I said I’m gonna go home, I’m gonna look him up.

– Call him.

– And I’m gonna you need to call Pedram.

– Call this dude. Yeah, I love it. Man, thank you so much.

– Thank you.

– Thank you, thank you very much. Tell me what you think. If you have any suggestions. If you have any bright ideas of how he can scale this and take this out to the masses. If you’re just interested, just hit us in the comments. Hit us in the threads. I’m in love with this. This is right in line with our conscience capital movement and this is the future. You’re looking at it, now be a part of it. I’ll see you next time….

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