Tuesday, May 27, 2008

Gas prices, shrapnel, toxic fumes, and a beautiful lawn

In The Plus Side of High Gas Prices, Joseph over at Plunderbund writes:

Yes, gas prices are much higher than they used to be.

And yes, the cost of fuel is impacting the cost of groceries and everything else we buy.

But maybe the news isn’t all that bad.

Joseph cites increases in the use of public transportation and the use of bicycles as benefits. Those are very good things, indeed, but while we're at it, isn't it about time we got rid of gasoline-powered lawn mowers?

I realize that some people are going to react to that idea the same way others react to even the hint a threat to their Second Amendment rights. But come on, we're talking about lawn care, not personal security. And really, isn't using a gasoline-powered mower to cut grass a bit like using an inverted helicopter to trim your hedges? What's next, using  a small nuclear reactor to toast bread?

You can buy area rugs larger than most of the lawns on my street here in Bay Village, yet some of my neighbors have what are the lawn mower equivalent of NASCAR racers. A blade of grass is such a tender thing. Even multiplied by a factor of millions, is all that horsepower necessary?

I bought an electric mower many years ago when my gas mower finally died. Now that my electric mower is getting tired, I've been using an old push mower. Doing the lawn manually takes a lot less time than with the electric, mainly because I don't have to drag a hundred-foot extension cord around. And pushing the manual mower around takes only marginally more physical effort. I mean, you have to push something -- at least until someone invents a solar-powered lawn Roomba

Admittedly, the quality of the cut from the push mower isn't up to power mower standards, but that's probably because I haven't had my mower sharpened since I bought it, which has to be about ten years ago. But still, is it worth $4 a gallon for precision lawn grooming? Are we that anal?

There are other very real benefits to consider in dumping power mowers. As reported in Consumer Affairs, a study by the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health found that nearly 80,000 Americans are treated every year for lawn mower-related injuries. The most common of these are caused be debris sent flying by the mower blades.

On the environmental front, People Powered Machines cites an EPA statistic that gas mowers cause 5% of US air pollution. 

In light of these statistics, you have to wonder why we're so devoted to spending Saturday mornings traversing our lawns behind a convenience that has proven its efficiency at spewing shrapnel and dangerous fumes and increasing the population of the nation's emergency rooms.

And let's not even get into the question of why we have lawns in the first place...

1 comment:

Matt Wilson said...

Preach on. Mowing the yard with a gas mower feels like going to war.

Push mower pride!