Spring is over and it is yard work season in Mount Rainier. Even Green Team members with lots of native plants have yard work to do and sometimes rely on the tools of the trade: lawn mower, weed whackers, edgers, leaf blowers, etc. As much of these tools make our lives easier, when they are gas-powered they can come with some huge downsides to yourself, your neighbors, and your wallet. But better tools are available and we’ll help you navigate to cleaner, green yard care.

The number one reason why you should scrap your gas lawn equipment is the air pollution. Lawn equipment is often powered with a two-stroke engine, which is not very efficient at burning gasoline (or a gas-oil mixture). As a result, these machines emit volatile organic compounds, which leads to formation of ozone in the summer, which in turn can harm lung function and cause asthma attacks. Some of the air pollution gas mowers and leaf blowers emit, such as benzene, are carcinogens. Studies have shown just one hour of lawn mower use is about the same as driving your car 100 miles. This pollution is not something you want to be breathing in on a beautiful Saturday.

Another reason to scrap your gas lawn equipment is the noise. Lawn equipment regularly makes noise above 85 decibels, which the CDC finds can cause hearing loss after just two hours of sustained use. And it’s not just the person doing the yard work that is exposed to the noise, all of your neighbors are too.

But there is hope! One great thing about Mount Rainier is how compact of a community we have, so the vast majority of us don’t have very large yards to maintain. We were surprised after doing a little online shopping to find that corded electric lawn mowers, weed whackers, and leaf blowers were the same cost if not cheaper than equivalent gas powered equipment. Given the size of many of our yards, you will only need a 50 foot extension cord to maintain your whole yard. And electric mowers and other equipment are easier and cheaper to maintain: no oil to change, or spark plugs to swap out, or trips to the gas station with a jerry can. 

While in the grand scheme of things the Green Team does recommend that you swap out your grass for native plants or a veggie garden and to leave the leaves over the fall, we know that is not the path all Mounties will want to take. But if you want to breathe easier, enjoy the sounds of a quieter weekend, and save some money and headache over time, it is highly recommended to switch to electric lawn equipment.

The Mount Rainier Green Team meets on the second Monday of each month from 7:00 to 9:00 pm.

Currently, our meetings are held virtually via Zoom. All interested citizens are invited to attend and can email us for the meeting connection information. For more information, meeting agendas and minutes, and an up-to-date calendar please visit https://mountrainiergreenteam.org or email mtrainiergreenteam@gmail.com.