Wednesday, May 27, 2009

lawn mowing

-- Eco-Event --

Recycling Council of BC Zero Waste Conference
Location: Fairmont Chateau Whistler Resort,
Whistler, BC - Canada

-- Spring into Lawn Mowing --

Ahh. Spring arrives with the beautiful twittering of birds preparing their nests for the unborn. What - can't hear them? The low rumble of lawn mowers not only drowns out natures' symphony, but also disturbs skittish wildlife and sleepy neighbors.

According to the Environmental Protection Agency, some older gas-powered lawn mowers produce in one hour as much air pollution as a new car does in eleven hours. Lawn mowers newer than 1996 have to comply to new exhaust emission standards, which is a fantastic place to begin. However, these standards are not yet satisfying for the health of the world.

Gasoline-powered mowers produce a cut that results in greater water loss and increased disease problems in lawns. Although many are now made with four-stroke engines (much less polluting than two-stroke engines), they still produce emissions.

There is a returned interest in push mowers due to environmental awareness of gas engine pollution and electricity use. Typically, crowded cities are resulting in smaller lawns, reducing the need for large, heavy mowers. Push mowers are usually, but not always, lightweight and easy to operate. Because push mowers are much smaller, they take up less storage room. The most obvious benefit of these mowers is, of course, that there no pollution is created when they are operated. These mowers are actually quite cheap and many stores are rising to meet the increased consumer interest.

We read that seven-blade models are considered better than five-blade models, and purchased one of these seven-blade push mowers for our fairly large lawn... only to find that our grass variety here is not your typical "lawn" grass and the model we purchased was not able to cut it properly. So we reverted to an electric one just last year.

There are other choices on the market than electric, push and gas lawn mowers. There are solar-powered models, too. We read of one featured in Omni magazine that operated on its own, traveling the entire lawn area during the day and resting at night. It looked to be about the size of a vacuum power-head. Apparently, a special fence is used to keep it within the lawn boundary and there is a built in alarm to prevent theft. Alternatively one can consider the battery-powered lawn mowers, but consider this option carefully. When shopping around last year we found that rechargeable battery powered mowers are convenient in that they are cordless, easy to operate, and relatively pollution free - the rechargeable battery may not be recyclable, the machine itself may not even be serviceable and the warranties/guarantees that come with many models did not have us feeling confident about purchasing the models we had found. That said, things can change greatly from one season to the next - our point here is to check things out before making the purchase decision.

Old defunct lawn mowers that are not operating still have some use. Remove the blade, motor, cords, wires and gas tank, leaving the four-wheeled caddy and its push handle. Secure a box to this and create a wheeled cart that is perfect for harvesting or toting material around the property. we have met several individuals who have created yard wast collection bag supports on the old lawn mower frame, which enables them to fill a bag with fall leaves for instance without having someone there to hold the bag open. When it is full, they can wheel it to where they want to store it without the back breaking work. A similar idea can be done for wood stove owners and gardeners.

The metal frame from most lawn mowers is recyclable and its wheels are often prized by workshop-creation and craft lovers. The motor and remaining parts might also be appreciated at a repair shop where they could be reused.

There are alternatives to traditional grass, from wildflower mixes to low-growing ground covers, which rarely need mowing. Landscaping a portion or the entire area with drought tolerant, wildlife supporting plants is a very environmentally active engagement that either eliminates or reduces mowing needs. And really, who couldn't use a little more time on their hands?

So get your exercise, reduce air and noise pollution; save yourself some money and have a healthier lawn. Or let the sun run the mower for you. Either way, the world will breathe a little easier and maybe your neighborhood will hear a songbird or two.

Find Dave & Lillian Brummet, excerpts from their books, information about their radio shows & free resources & articles at

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