The idealist in me believes that we can create beauty in our gardens with resources available to us here and now, not what we extract brutally from the earth in far away places. I’d also like to design and maintain gardens that work for real people using their own precious energy to cultivate a small patch of the world, and I don’t know many people who deeply desire to mow their lawns weekly or fork over their income to delegate the task.
That said, there is a lot of beauty in smooth, clean pathways and patios. Badminton and soccer games suffer without flat, soft spaces to play. When the first major rainfalls occur, many curbsides are clogged with leaves and become mucky traps for intrepid pedestrians rather than draining smoothly. So of course there is a need for cleanliness in the landscape, and I’d like to use efficient techniques to make it happen! Because of the time efficiency of power equipment such as leaf blowers, I wanted to make a careful, data-based decision.
First, I looked into the emissions from 2-stroke engines. Since they have only one combustion cycle, nearly 30% of fuel goes unburned and is released as exhaust. By many measures, gas-powered leaf blowers and lawnmowers emit far more greenhouse gases than trucks using conventional gasoline. In 2011, Edmunds, a third-party vehicle researching company, tested the emissions of a Ford F-150, Fiat 500, Ryobi 4-stroke leaf blower, and an Echo 2-stroke leaf blower. Here are their findings:
Leaf blowers also kick up particulate matter which can contain other toxic materials such as pet waste, fertilizer, and oil from road surfaces. This has been shown to aggravate asthma and respiratory illnesses.
Finally, they’re noisy! I want to make sure that your home and neighborhood are pleasant places for napping babies and adults, asthmatics, elderly people, and all other residents with lungs, and for future generations. Using gas-powered equipment diminishes my ability to accomplish this goal, so I have chosen not to do it.
Stay tuned as I engage in more carbon reduction strategies in 2015. Next up: Transportation & materials sourcing.
If You're Curious....
Student Madeleine Buchman is working to pass a resolution in the Seattle City Council to limit or ban leaf blower use. Help her out! https://banblowersseattle.wordpress.com/what-im-up-to/