Solutions exist that don’t require dangerous gas powered leaf blowers. A combination of healthy lawn and garden maintenance practices and safer tool choices makes it possible to achieve beautiful outdoor spaces and also keep our neighborhoods quiet and safe. Advocating for gas free maintenance in our own homes and in public spaces will also help keep workers safer by eliminating their exposure to these harmful tools.
PRACTICE HEALTHY YARD CARE
It is entirely possible to maintain a healthy, beautiful yard without the noise and toxic emissions from gas leaf blowers and other gas-powered equipment. The best way to achieve this while promoting the health of ecosystems and people is through the principles of ecological/sustainable landscape design and maintenance. Yards designed according to these principles are easy to care for, look lovely, and are healthier for the planet.
So embrace a less manicured look and let nature do its thing! The more flexible we are about a few leaves here and there, the less time-consuming our yards are to maintain, and the healthier the soil and garden will be. There is really no need to keep things looking “un-naturally” clean.
Here are some additional resources:
- “Leave the leaves” – leave leaves and other plant matter under trees and shrubs to help build mulch, healthy soil and habitat for pollinators and wildlife.
- Grasscycling – leave grass clippings on the lawn or use a mulching mower. Clippings are a natural fertilizer, beneficial for the lawn and will decompose and disappear quickly.
- Plant care – avoid the use of leaf blowers around plantings as they erode and compact the soil, and damage habitat for beneficial insects and pollinators
- Help pollinators – plant native plants with staggered blooming times and do not use pesticides
- Reduce or replace your lawn – lawns take lots of water and labor to maintain and account for huge quantities of fertilizer and gasoline use. Reduce the size of your lawn or replace it altogether with plants that take less water and maintenance and which provide habitat for insects and birds.
CHOOSE SAFER TOOLS
Tools that don’t create toxic fumes, dust and noise are gentler on the environment. Gas blowers are often overkill for the work that is required, and good alternatives exist for light cleaning and even for heavy leaf clearing.
- Use a broom or rake instead of a gas blower to eliminate massive pollution, dust and noise. They are more efficient tools than many people think.
- Try a lawn sweeper – these amazing tools clean up leaves and lawn clippings quickly, easily and quietly They are not expensive to purchase and require no gasoline.
- Battery/electric alternatives to gas powered tools are readily available and more reliable than gas tools.
- Find resources on the advantages of electric tools and how to make the switch.
- Blow with caution – If you must use a blower, make sure there are no bystanders within 50 feet and do not use on dusty surfaces.
SUPPORT HEALTHY JOBS
Help create demand for green healthy jobs. Gas blowers are most dangerous for the workers who operate them. By signalling that you care about the air quality in your neighborhood, you are helping your neighbors and creating healthier jobs for our local workers.
- Use this tip sheet to talk with contractors about the harmful effects of gas equipment. Ask them to use to safer, healthier tools on your property.
- Send this letter to your contractor asking them not to use gas powered leaf blowers on your property. Here is a Spanish version of the letter.
- Hire quiet, safe yard care contractors. Choose lawn maintenance services, landscapers and arborists who do not use gas powered equipment.
Prélude à l’après-midi d’un leaf blower
Gunning at dawn
as if to secure
the right to water
the lawn, to leave
the engine on, to burn
what we please
and pile the debris
on someone else’s
doorstep, to adjust
one’s mask before
a two-stroke civic
discourse at full
the peace and
Verse thanks to Jennifer Martenson