People have the power to impact their environment

Neighbors received a University Heights Beautiful Home Award for creating a sustainable pollinator garden to replace most of their front lawn.

It was a sunny and mild Sunday on Glendon Road in University Heights, and I watched various neighbors using electric leaf blowers and/or lawn mowers on their lawns and gardens throughout the day. The loudest sounds were from the Northern Cardinals singing their familiar song. I decided to ask a couple of my neighbors what led them to change from gas-powered lawn care to electric yard tools.

The first neighbor and I spoke for some time over our picket fence. He shared his feelings about keeping a natural, chemical-free yard, citing the safety of grandchildren and animals. "I can live with some weeds," he said. This neighbor composts in his backyard and uses an electric leaf blower and trimmer. Describing his lawn and garden care, he noted the ease of composting and using electric tools: “So easy—it just makes sense."

Directly across the street, a neighbor and I sat down in chairs at the end of his driveway. A high-end electric lawn mower was beside us. This neighbor has a business that sells or rents electric yard tools. He spoke of his ambivalence toward using batteries due to the deleterious effects of lithium mining. Yet, for him, the short-term reduction of carbon emissions and the ease of using electric instead of gas-powered mowers and leaf blowers were deciding factors in transitioning. We agreed that there are no easy answers to replacing fossil fuels, and all we can do is the best we can at this time.

These individual household choices to remove harmful emissions, high-decibel noise, and pesticide chemicals from lawn and garden care have a direct environmental impact on entire neighborhoods and beyond.

University Heights is small, only 1.8 square miles, and housing is dense along each street, with houses spaced only a few yards apart. At minimum, the use of electric yard tools improves the respiratory and hearing health of the user and their neighborhood, and eliminating lawn chemicals prevents their seepage into adjoining properties and down catch basins that flow into Lake Erie during rainstorms.

Our residents create this healthy microcosm with their insight and commitment to their neighborhoods and environment. People have the power—a beautiful aspect of humanity.   

Elizabeth Englehart

Elizabeth Englehart is a 2024 graduate of the FutureHeights Neighborhood Leadership Workshop Series and a volunteer member of the University Heights Citizens Advisory Committee on Sustainability.

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Volume 17, Issue 7, Posted 8:08 AM, 06.26.2024