Leaf blowers are noisy, filthy, pointless and should be banned.
I genuinely think it impossible to avoid their blare for a consecutive 8-hour period anywhere in suburbia unless you’ve chewed a dozen Nyquil or are dead (perhaps from the dozen Nyquil – don’t do that). In Pasadena, it’s almost like the gardeners are undergoing a battle to see who can blow crap in circles for the longest. If you think this is an overreaction, go toddle off to any park when you next get chance and see if a monotonous whirring doesn’t ruin your visit. Can’t I browse my iPhone in peace?!
Admittedly this topic is somewhat personal as a leaf blower drowned-out my wedding vows, but taking a look at what these blasted machines do and don’t do is a little depressing. If you drive a 3-ton, V8-toting F-150 Raptor pickup from Los Angeles to New York and then down to Memphis, you’ll have unleashed less hydrocarbons on the planet than the fella down the road who’s been blaring his leaf blower for the last half hour. This isn’t hyperbole, sadly this is fact.
Most leaf blowers are powered by two-stroke gas engines. They churn out 23 times as much carbon monoxide (odorless, tasteless but highly poisonous – get a detector if you don’t already have one) as the aforementioned pickup under equal test conditions. Even the cleanest gasoline leafblowers – 4-strokes – emit more than 13 times as much carbon monoxide and 6 times more nitrogen oxide than the Ford. When just idling, leaf blowers are polluting sootbags that can almost make a 13 mpg pickup seem environmentally responsible (though in 2012, it remains a travesty that American-market trucks can’t match the 30mpg+ of those available in Europe).
They aren’t even effective. While some of what they blow gets put in a trash can, the rest gets blown down the street in front of other people’s houses so their gardener can break out the leaf blower and blow it in front of the next neighbor’s driveway and so on. If gardeners did this on purpose it would be a stop-press conspiracy but such haphazardness is almost certainly just the nature of the handheld beast.
Lots of people cite their allergies nowadays, and since leaf blowers stir up a raft of allergens, dust and mold spores it is only fair to lay some blame at their door when your red eyes and scratchy cough are making you irritable and itchy.
The solution to all these woes is simple; belatedly follow the lead of Beverly Hills– a city that banned gas leaf blowers in 1976 –for the reasons outlined above. There is no good reason to allow the continued proliferation of devices responsible for heavy noise and air pollution when they serve no purpose and aren’t even fun to operate.
Since there’s always a contrarian or three, one must always look at both sides of the argument. Leaf blowers have feelings too, you see. While it is true that lawn mowers and strimmers also pollute, that is where the similarities end. Both of these devices quickly accomplish a job that would be tricky to do without using gasoline. Electric-power may work for personal use tools over small areas, but gardening teams often don’t have access to outlets. Furthermore, lawn mowers and strimmers are actually effective.
A broom or a rake clears leaves in an efficient and far more orderly fashion than a leaf blower. Anyone who does their own gardening will attest to this. No 100 decibels of noise damage to the operator’s ears, less dust, fewer leaves blown down storm drains. Zero gardeners would lose their jobs with this ban.
It’s late and I’m done. But please, imagine a world without leaf blowers. Crisp air, birds singing in the trees and no more of your neighbor’s muck in your yard. A utopia where clarity of thought would be at an all time high. It’s too late for me to be saved, I hear their drone in my dreams, but do this for our children and join in beating a horse that is unfortunately far from dead.
Image courtesy of fortravelssake.com, test results from insideline.com