A startling-yet-not-new-study (2011) done by Edmunds InsideLine.com showed that gas blower (2 stroke and 4 stroke) emissions are incredibly dirty. “‘The hydrocarbon emissions from a half-hour of yard work with the two-stroke leaf blower are about the same as a 3,900-mile drive from Texas to Alaska in a Raptor,’ said Jason Kavanagh, Engineering Editor at Edmunds.com. ‘As ridiculous as it may sound, it is more ‘green’ to ditch your yard equipment and find a way to blow leaves using a Raptor.’” (Full Article)
So what are we to do?
Obviously raking is the most environmentally friendly option, but some property owners have physical limitations or areas that are just too large for hand raking. I happen to love manual labor—it’s my zen—but raking means I remove a lot of my mulch and even some rock as well. Also, removing leaves from the fruit tree guilds is a critical part of my IPM strategy. Raking rips out many of my guild herbs and flowers. I was picking up leaves by hand. Ug!
Electric leaf blowers are our next best option. They come in corded and battery. I opted for a DeWalt battery powered blower.
Yes, you consume power which is generated by polluting power plants—but power plants have better emission controls and scrubbers, and in total create less pollution than gas blowers. (Someday I’m gettin’ me some solar panels!) Plus electric blowers have some real benefits.
- Push button start: Starting our 2-stroke blower is complicated and difficult. Since I did it once-maybe-twice a year I’d always forget and wrestle with the darn thing to get it going. I can also turn my new one off and on as much as I want.
- Quieter: Still annoying, but much quieter than our gas blower.
- Power Adjustment: Our gas blower has settings for hurricane level 1, 2, and 3. Even on its lowest setting, our mulch and small river rock go flying. (This is the reason I wanted a battery blower—I wasn’t aware of how dirty our gas blower was.) Our battery powered blower goes from light breeze to about hurricane 2. I don’t miss hurricane 3. Although I have always wondered, if I had two gas blowers going at once, could I rig them into a dual powered jet pack? Hummm….
- Battery Life: Is surprisingly long. So long that I forget that charging is a thing. When it does run out of juice, I can borrow a battery from one of our other DeWalt tools (or grab a spare) with the correct voltage to finish up. If battery toxicity bothers your conscious, a corded one might be a better choice.
- Lightweight: The electric ones are much lighter than gas.
In short, I love my battery powered blower. Everybody that I told about it scoffed. (My husband included.) But they are impressed with its performance, and a few have already upgraded. I know it’s not perfect, but sometimes I have to settle for the best available option and stay on the lookout for greener alternatives.
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