Eco-friendly auto shops are popping up nationwide — from Green Garage in Denver to Green Drop Auto Shop in Portland, Ore. — offering green tune-ups for the masses with gas-guzzling vehicles. Think recyclable windshield wipers, biodegradable engine additives, recycled motor oil, low-VOC paint and non-toxic shop cleansers. These new eco-friendly tune-ups have spawned dozens of green auto products — from EcoTouch, a non-toxic automotive cleaner, to MicroGreen oil filters promising lower oil consumption.
Phil Reed, a consumer advice editor for www.edmunds.com, is wary of claims that a green service will make a car run better. Edmunds has done testing for fuel efficiency, he notes. “I would be skeptical of people who say they can do something to your car that can boost fuel efficiency,” Reed said. “There’s little that can be adjusted, tuned up or improved in a way that would improve fuel economy more than just the regular maintenance.” The best way to protect the environment, Reed said, is to look out for how a car shop handles, recycles or disposes its hazardous liquids and materials. An estimated 200 million gallons of oil are improperly disposed of each year into storm sewer drains. That’s dangerous when just one gallon of oil can contaminate 1 million gallons of drinking water.
But many mechanics are cleaning up the way they do business and getting green certifications from groups in Arizona, New Jersey, Oregon, Florida, Rhode Island, Washington and California. In Oregon alone, 150 car shops — some new and some existing — received green certifications from a quasi-governmental group called Eco-Logical Business Program, or EcoBiz. The voluntary certification program recognizes businesses that reach high standards in environmental protection.
Honest-1® is the only national company to operate full-service, customer centric, and eco-friendly auto care centers AND they offer franchise opportunities so other auto care businesses might expand upon this concept. In late 2007, Honest-1 Auto Care discovered during a research project that consumers wanted an environmentally responsible company to provide their car repair and maintenance needs. Based on what we heard from consumers, Honest-1 decided to take extraordinary steps to protect the environment by helping our customers maintain the most efficient and safe vehicles possible. A relatively small company that can make a big difference in reducing harmful auto emissions. By August 2008, every Honest-1 Auto Care shop was Environmentally Sustainable Actions Certified (ESA®). The ESA Certification is implemented by the company through its own standards for pollution prevention, recycling and resource conservation. Every franchisee is required to update their certification when significant updates to the program or system are needed. If you are interested in opening a ‘Green Garage’ in your area, check out their business model and franchise information at http://www.honest-1.com/franchise-programs
Shop owners say that by going green they can cut operating costs, reduce waste disposal costs, cut long-term liability and improve employee health. They can also benefit from the marketing power of being green, said Brett Hulstrom, chair of Portland’s Eco-Logical Business Program.
Farhad Ghafarzade, founder and president of Green Drop Garage, a seven-employee auto repair shop in Portland, says too many people believe that driving green means buying a $30,000 hybrid. But the manufacture of any new car eats up natural resources, such as water, electricity and mining of materials, he notes. “You’re doing a bigger service to the environment by keeping your old car and making sure it lasts longer,” Ghafarzade said.
So there you have it! Now if we only had a “Green Garage” in Charlottesville. Anyone know of one?