Monday, May 31, 2010

Eco-friendly mowers

I love the smell of fresh-cut grass but don’t care for all that goes along with it: the noise, the exhaust fumes, the smell of spilled gasoline.

Gas-powered mowers pollute way beyond their worth. An hour of mowing with a traditional gas-powered mower pollutes as much as driving 320 kilometers in a typical car. So throughout the mowing season obsessive mowers could be polluting the equivalent of a 4,000 km road trip while never leaving the yard. Environment Canada estimates emissions from off-road engines (lawn mowers included) make up about 9% of Canada’s total greenhouse gas emissions. On top of this, millions of gallons of gas are spilled each year by owners refilling their mowers.

I agree that mowing is a necessary evil but there are less evil ways to cut the grass. A goat would be my preferred but for all sorts of practical reasons that solution doesn’t suit our household (or neighbourhood).

For several years we used a reel mower – one of those old-fashioned-looking push mowers. The new versions are much lighter than the tank I recall in the corner of our basement when I was little. A reel mower is great for biceps, and offers a practical solution for nice flat lawns that aren’t too big. They’re quiet enough for early morning mowing and don’t pollute. Ours however became too much work for our large bumpy yard. Based on observation (I don’t mow, I garden) lawn mowing as an athletic workout for my husband lost its charm after five summers of pushing.

Figuring we needed a new, but still eco-friendly, way to mow he did a little research on rechargeable mowers and just this week came home with an Earthwise cordless electric mower. Electric mowers are great for many reasons. They’re quieter than gas-powered mowers, reduce pollution from mowing by about 90% and use only as much power as a toaster. Over the summer an electric mower will use roughly $5 worth of power.

I was inspired to give ours a try and was impressed. What I love about this new mower is that it’s easy to start; you just insert a key and pull a lever (no yanking on a cord). I found it heavy but not too heavy to push comfortably (ours has a 20” cutting path so is on the bigger side). It cut easily through thick grass and mulches the clippings so they’re left to nourish the lawn. Best of all I wasn’t walking through a path of smog that is typical for gas-powered mowers.

The battery lasts an hour, which is about enough mowing for me and recharges overnight. If you’re in the market for a mower there are several cordless options to choose from. We bought ours at Kent Building Supplies but Home Depot carries several brands too. If you’d prefer to try a reel mower they’re easy to find. I have even noticed a few promoted in hardware store flyers recently.

No comments: