Yard care can be more climate-friendly
I was thrilled to see the popularity of the recent exchange of gas lawn mowers for electric versions in Cleveland Heights. Even small changes in the way we care for our lawns and gardens can make a difference in our contributions to climate change.
One very simple thing we can do to decrease our carbon footprints is to replace part of our lawns with other plants that will take up more carbon dioxide from the atmosphere and need less carbon releasing care than grass.
A second approach, for the lawn we want to keep, is to switch from gas-powered tools to those run by electric batteries. According to the EPA, Americans burn nearly three billion gallons of gasoline running lawn and garden equipment. The greenhouse gas produced in recharging batteries is significantly less than that produced by gas engines for every power grid in the nation. The 100 lucky homeowners selected for the lawnmower exchange in CH will now be able to mow their lawns with a smaller carbon footprint.
My suggestion for a next step in CH might be to have an exchange of gas-powered leaf blowers for electric ones (or for good, sturdy rakes). An hour’s use of a gas leaf blower burns the equivalent of driving from Denver to Los Angeles. The deleterious effects of gas leaf blowers go beyond contributing to climate change. They are very loud. Constant exposure to loud noise can harm human mental and physical health. They are also toxic. Gas fumes can irritate eyes, noses and throats; cause headaches, nausea and dizziness; and can even lead to lung damage. Moreover, no one likes to reek of gas after yard work. Thus, I believe a leaf-blower exchange would be popular.
Other communities are starting to take actions. The state of California is phasing in a ban on the sale of new gas-powered small engines. Washington, D.C., has banned the use of gas-powered leaf blowers. The town of Mountain Brook, Ark., has converted nearly all its maintenance devices to battery-powered ones, and is finding the run time and power sufficient to its needs. Suntek, a lawn-care company in Florida, and another, Quiet Lawn in South Carolina, have converted their equipment as well.
I would predict that any entrepreneur interested in starting a quiet lawn-care business would do very well in Cleveland Heights.
Joanne Westin has been a Cleveland Heights resident for 46 years. A retired CWRU biology instructor, Westin is married to Roy Ritzmann, who uses battery-operated lawn-care tools.