This afternoon, taking advantage of the the beautiful sunny day I took a walk in my neighborhood. Indeed the weather was great, but it seemed like everywhere I turned here in residential Southeast Portland, there was a chorus of loud, belching gasoline-powered lawn mowers and leaf blowers. People may not like the wintry rain, but at least you can walk down the sidewalk without taking a lung full of carbon monoxide, dust and swirling grass trimmings.
It got me thinking: If Portland is really a leading sustainable city, why not set a goal of curbing or even ending use of gas-powered mowers? Retiring these crude cutting machines would be a small but effective step in further cutting use of fossil fuels as well as pollution. And saving my psyche. How would we go about it? I'm not sure if incentives for manual or battery-powered mowers would be enough, yet an outright ban might not be realistic either.
Leaf blowers are just as loud and obnoxious as gas mowers, if not worse. But is there technology out there to do the same job without the noise and gasoline? My understanding is mowers have come further, although a good old rake or broom surely would more often than not suffice for a leaf blower in my book. Or might there be some Scandinavian or Japanese industrial designer coming up with a silent, solar-powered leaf blower as we speak? Speaking of industrial designers, how about we get Sohrab Vossoughi and the gang over at local award winning firm Ziba started on this right away?
In my neighborhood a good portion of houses seem to rely on lawn-care companies that sweep in every couple weeks during the spring and summer with an arsenal of big, loud lawn equipment. Many of these are small businesses with largely minority workforces, and I wouldn't want regulations or bans to harm what they do. Even so, I feel like walking through my neighborhood is an obstacle course for my ears and allergies whenever they're around. Is this the only way to keep a clean yard or sidewalk?