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Green yields greenbacks: Hook-based firm wants to clean up moving

The Brooklyn Paper
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A Red Hook moving company is breaking away from the competition by going green.

Movers, Not Shakers has taken the dirty out of its dirty work by cutting down on disposable cardboard boxes and injecting its trucks with less harmful fuel.

The Van Brunt Street company says its business model creates a win-win situation for the environment and the company (just as Times columnist Thomas Friedman argues it would!).

“It makes sense economically to separate yourself from the pack,” said owner Mark Ehrhardt, formerly a drummer and a stockbroker before starting Movers, Not Shakers in 2002.

Ehrhardt thinks his eco-sound practices will give him an advantage with environmentally conscious consumers, but he doesn’t want the leg-up to last.

“I’d like everybody to jump on board,” Ehrhardt said. “Every company should be able to calculate what its carbon footprint is and do something to offset that.”

Ehrhardt aims to reduce that oh-so-trendy footprint — the amount of carbon dioxide businesses or people release in going about their daily lives — in two ways.

First, customers can forget about the unholy hassle of foraging for cardboard boxes to pack up their possessions, because Ehrhardt offers reusable plastic bins. Customers rent them a week before they move and return them seven days later.

Movers, Not Shakers used to buy 500 pounds of cardboard per month. Since introducing the plastic boxes, that amount has dropped by 60 percent.

In another show of eco-awareness, the non-disposable boxes are crammed into trucks that run on biodiesel, a fuel partially made from restaurant cooking oil and emits fewer pollutants than diesel. This spring, Movers, Not Shakers will run even cleaner when it switches to 100 percent biodiesel — which is made by Tri-State Biodiesel in Red Hook, too.

Ehrhardt purchases 200 gallons of fuel per month even though it’s slightly more expensive than the fossil fuel variety.

Green moving made sense to some apartment-hoppers.

“On my last move, I spent a lot of money on boxes,” said Maya Polton, who recently moved from Chicago to Park Slope. “It’s annoying to spend $300 on boxes and then just throw them away.”

If other companies in Red Hook get on the green bandwagon, they could reshape the neighborhood’s gritty image, said Jed Marcus, a green expert.

“These activities promote neighborhoods as green neighborho­ods,” said Marcus, who leads Green Fort Greene and Clinton Hill, which encourages environmentally friendly living.

Though Mayor Bloomberg is promoting green ideas citywide, Brooklyn neighborhoods have proven to be the laboratory for innovation. In DUMBO, for example, a local business group got virtually all the restaurants to collect their used vegetable oil to be processed into fuel by Tri-State Biodiesel.

Updated 4:35 pm, July 9, 2018
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