By Erin Hitchcock, Air Aware Educator
It’s that time of year where mowers, weed whackers, and leaf blowers are out to keep our landscapes short, trim and clean.
However, many of them – especially gas-powered machines – are not so great at keeping our air clean.
If you’re considering replacing your machine, choose electric over gas-fired contraptions, in order to reduce harmful emissions that affect our air quality and contribute to greenhouse gases.
According to a study posted by Science Daily, sourcing the American Chemical Society, air pollution from cutting grass for one hour with a gas-powered mower is equivalent to that of a 161-km (100-mile) automobile ride.
Recognizing the environmental harm of gas-powered machines, last fall the National Capital Commission announced it will ban the use of gas-powered leaf blowers (which also kick up a lot of dust), line trimmers, hedge trimmers and small chainsaws on NCC lands starting on April 1, 2023.
The State of California is also slated to ban the sale of new gas-powered leaf blowers and lawn mowers by Jan. 1, 2024.
Gas-powered mowers also create noise issues in communities. In January, Vancouver City Council unanimously passed a motion to phase out gas-powered lawn tools by 2024 due to noise and environmental concerns.
If you have a green thumb, another option is to convert your existing lawn into a garden or planting a few trees. While labour intensive at the get-go, once established requires little maintenance (especially if it’s a perennial or xeriscape garden) and will add beauty to your property.
In addition, having more trees and shrubs in your yard can also improve air quality, cool your home, store moisture, and create shade and vital habitat for birds and insects.
And, instead of using a leaf blower, consider raking up leaves and adding them to your compost.
Erin Hitchcock is an Air Aware educator with Scout Island Nature Centre. Visit our website at breatheasywilliamslake.org and follow us on Facebook at Air Aware Williams Lake.
We gratefully acknowledge the financial support of the Province of BC through the Ministry of Environment and Climate Change Strategy.