Sept. 20, 2012
By Teresa McUsic
Lars Hundley started his green journey standing in front of the lawn mower section of Home Depot.
He needed to mow the lawn at the house he was renting, and he just couldn’t force himself to buy a noisy, smelly gas-guzzling, air polluting mower.
Instead, he found an old-fashioned push reel mower stuck in the corner of the section. He liked it so much, he went home, bought 15 Brill push mowers, started a website and quickly sold them all.
That was in 1998. Now, as president of Dallas-based online green retailer CleanAirGardening.com, Lars is the No. 1 seller in the country of the German-made Brill push mowers. His company employs seven. His product base has grown to hundreds of items. And his customer base numbers in the thousands, ranging from coast to coast.
Right, Lars Hundley, courtesy of Clean Air Gardening,
“We're just a few people in Dallas, working as fast as we can to make sure that we have plenty of cool, useful, environmentally friendly lawn and garden supplies that we think you'll like,” Hundley said.
Clean Air Gardening features a large selection of environmentally friendly lawn and garden supplies and garden products, including push reel mowers, compost bins for composting, rain barrels, organic fertilizers and gardening tools.
Left, composter, courtesy of Clean Air Gardening.
Among the best sellers is a Spin Bin composter for $129.99, a 60-gallon composter of 100 percent recycled material made in Arlington, Texas, said Steve Vesper, operations manager for the company.
“One of our goals has a company is to start our own product line,” Vesper said. “That way we cut down on purchasing overseas products and having to have them shipped to the U.S.”
Green Air Gardening also stocks a number of household products, from bamboo sheets and kitchen ware to water-saving shower heads.
“We search for products that are environmentally friendly and make life easier for our customers,” he said. “We look for niches, products that may not be widely available.
Among some of the more unusual niche items are an electric leaf blower ($79.99.), a solar-powered fire ant killer crusher ($44.99), and large nut roller ($69.99.)
Many products include free shipping. On the less expensive side, the company offers a nine-jet, messaging shower head for just $10.99, an ergonomic gardening stool for $29.99 and a fresh herb saver (featured as one of Oprah’s favorite things) for $21.99
Vesper said the company experienced double digit growth in sales up until the Great Recession of 2007.
Right, Steve Vespers, courtesy of Clean Air Gardening.
“We tie a lot of our growth to the housing market. Many of our customers find us when they first buy a house,” he said. “So when home sales struggle, we don’t see as much growth.”
But Vesper said the company’s main goal is to educate the consumer on a different way to approach their household needs and consumption.
“We want to tell people to be green not because it’s cool, but because it makes sense to their pocketbooks,” Vesper said. “They should do it with conviction, not guilt.”
In addition to products, the company’s website also features free advice on vegetable gardening, raising chickens, compost bins, rain barrels and, of course, push mowers. Gardening Tips. Some of the subjects include
- Plants Poisonous to Cats, Dogs and other Pets
- How to get the best compost from worms
- Gardening in confined spaces
- How to restore your yard's natural balance
- Organic controls for common garden pests
- Growing tomatoes - the organic way
- How to get rid of Crazy Ants
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Teresa McUsic is an Arlington-based writer focused on consumer, environmental and health issues for a number of local and national publications. Her column, The Savvy Consumer, appears in the Fort Worth Star-Telegram. She can be reached at TMcUsic@aol.com.