Trash is Treasure

John Loyd wants to change the way you think about junk.

By Jeff Meisner January 6, 2009 Published in the February 2008 issue of Seattle Met

YOUNG, EDUCATED, AND SURPRISINGLY ungrimy, John Loyd doesn’t look like a professional junk man. Unless you count the beat-up work boots and utility pants—or the slight stoop when he walks, likely from long days of heavy lifting. Not that manual labor is the hard part. The toughest aspect of his job, as owner and principal carrier of Envirohaul, is changing the way people regard junk. “We grow up thinking that if something is broken, it’s no longer useful,” says the 31-year-old. “But in the right hands it can be taken apart and turned into gold for somebody else.”

Envirohaul picks up your refuse, puts it to good use, and keeps it out of the landfill. That old computer monitor you’re about to pitch in favor of a flat screen? Loyd knows a nonprofit across town that needs it. That pile of concrete sitting in the backyard from your basement remodel? It doesn’t have to go to a dump. It can be ground up and reused by a construction company.

A little over a year ago Loyd was working as a cabinet builder and ornamental iron worker in Everett and was astonished at the truckloads of detritus—plaster, wood trimmings, and drywall—generated by a simple home remodel. Such wastefulness flew in the face of Loyd’s ethics, which he honed while studying health sciences at the University of Texas in El Paso. Being both environmentally minded and entrepreneurial, he hit on an idea. He quit his job, drew out his life savings, cobbled together $50,000 from friends and family, and bought two trucks for $30,000 each.

That old computer monitor you’re about to pitch? Loyd knows a nonprofit that needs it.

The green theme has defined Envirohaul from the start. The 205-horsepower, four-cylinder Isuzu trucks—which look like something out of a Dr. Seuss story—run on biodiesel. Loyd explains: “I don’t want people to think, ‘This guy’s doing good by finding new uses for our junk, but he’s burning tons of petroleum hauling it all over the place.’”

With the help of four part-time employees, Loyd makes between 10 and 15 pickups a week and charges customers between $140 and $685 depending on size of the load. “It takes a little bit of salesmanship to convince someone that a big pile of old two-by-fours are actually resources waiting to be used by someone else,” says Loyd.

And he’s sold a lot of people on the idea. “Honestly, I throw away more stuff than is tolerable,” says Chas Comstock, a frequent client and co-owner of Method Construction in Seattle. “It actually makes me quite ill. The amount of waste we generate is shocking.” Other clients include Bark Natural Petcare in Ballard, Youth Media Institute in White Center, and various Goodwill stores in the area.
Loyd will buy a third truck this year to keep up with demand, most of it from construction companies. “Using Envirohaul will help builders get certified as green” by EnviroStars, a local organization that rates businesses on their environmental performance, Loyd explains.

And for you? Call it investing in a good conscience. “Consider how many old microwaves are out there,” Loyd says. “The aluminum in that microwave you’re about to chuck can save enough energy to run a TV for 10 hours.”

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