Reinventing the move

His children call him a trash-picking tree hugger, but then, he calls himself the chief tree hugger.

Sunset Beach native Spencer Brown does pick up trash off the streets, but so do his 8-year-old twins, he said.

Brown said he looks at things from a green perspective, but he does things that are easy green.

"I've always been green. I do things that are convenient green," he said.

At work, though, is another story.

Brown is the founder of Rent-A-Green Box, a zero-waste moving box rental company based in Costa Mesa that provides clients with reusable lime-green moving boxes Brown designed out of recycled plastic and almost 20 other packing supplies made out of products that would have filled landfills. The company delivers and picks up the products in trucks outfitted to run on bio-diesel and waste vegetable oil, he said.

Rent-A-Green Box is "reinventing and revolutionizing" the way people move, he said.

"I just think it is the right thing to do," he said.

The company, which has won a slew of recognitions, from the Governor's Environmental and Economic Leadership Award to being a five-star rated company on Yelp, started in Huntington Beach and, last week, moved into a new franchise-training facility in Surf City. The facility won't be open until September, but when it does, it will create about 25 jobs, Brown said.

"Costa Mesa is a great place to do business, but I love Huntington Beach. It's a great city," he said, adding later, "I'm excited because we've been doing this for so long and now we're training other people to carry the dream forward."

The company started with the brown, cardboard moving boxes that Brown is trying to eliminate.

While relocating a home office, Brown bought about $800 in cardboard boxes and then didn't know what to do with them after he moved. He ended up at a landfill for the first time.

It was there that he saw what would happen to the cardboard boxes he purchased and where he took the plastic bottles that created the first Recopack, the reusable plastic moving boxes that are the cornerstone of the business.

"I'm always the guy who looks at things and thinks, 'Why can't we do it this way?'" he said.

Brown is a "certifiable genius," said Brooks Mattingley, 18, a family friend who is interning with the company.

"I think I learned more from Spencer in four days," he said, than he learned during his last internship.

The company has served about 180,000 people since it started in 2005, and the overwhelming majority of its clients just like the convenience and cost-savings, Brown said. Only about 4% of his clients are green "zealots," he said.

"Most of the other people just want a box delivered, clean, helpful people…and [to] pick them up when they're done," he said.

For most people, Rent-A-Green Box is their first experience working with a green company, he said. Although many people have called going green trendy, it is not a fad, Brown said.

"I think there's a shift in how people want to live their lives," he said.

More Information

Want to see what can be made from discarded bottles, newspaper sludge or dirty diapers? Check out all Rent-A-Green Box's products at

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