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Green Things Come in Large Packages

2008 August 5

About the author: David Piantanida has been a senior policy analyst in EPA’s headquarters compliance office since 1990. He’s led efforts in workforce planning, environmental policy analysis and environmental advocacy. David has also been a liaison to diverse groups including trade associations, non-profits, tribes, and state government.

Photo of author with new battery powered lawn mowerThis past May we came home to find a giant box on our porch. I saw the writing on the side of the package and knew instantly what it was. We tore off the side of the recycled cardboard box to unveil our new, rechargeable battery-powered lawn mower. It came with 360 watt-hours of battery energy, a 19” cutting blade, rear grass collection bag, side discharge chute, mulching plug, battery charger and safety key. And it has a 23 pound rechargeable battery, a two-tone green logo on the side, and produces zero emissions when mowing our lawn.

As someone who has been cutting grass since I was a teenager in upstate New York – I never really focused on the amount of particulate matter or greenhouse gas emissions that were emitted from our gas-powered mower. As a teen, there seemed to be only two options – gas or push mowers. The former allowed us to mow a lot more lawns in a shorter amount of time and collect a lot more money- making our decision an easy one.

Today, we have so many more choices, including clean, nearly maintenance-free alternatives to gasoline-powered lawn mowers. Technology has made the gas-free alternatives as powerful as their counterparts. Our new model easily cuts our ¼ acre of land and the battery fully recharges within about eight hours.

When I started looking at non-gas mowers, I learned a lot. Did you know that a conventional gas powered lawn mower spews nearly 90 pounds of the greenhouse gas CO2, and over 50 pounds of other pollutants into our air every year? I also read that over 17 million gallons of gas are spilled each year refueling lawn and garden equipment – more petroleum than was spilled by the Exxon Valdez. And gas-powered mowers send over 1,800 times the hydrocarbons into the atmosphere, compared to battery-powered mowers.

The lawnmower has now been at our house for 10 weeks and I am pleased to report that he’s doing well – our grass looks great, he’s a new topic in the neighborhood, and we have taken another small step to reduce our impact on the environment. Besides, it’s fun to use, relatively quiet, and I actually look forward to mowing the lawn.

Editor's Note: The opinions expressed here are those of the author. They do not reflect EPA policy, endorsement, or action, and EPA does not verify the accuracy or science of the contents of the blog.

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5 Responses leave one →
  1. Brenda permalink
    August 6, 2008

    It looks awsome! We don’t realize how much we contribute to global warming through the use of such smaller equipment. I’m dying to know where did you get it?

  2. Jorge permalink
    August 27, 2008

    Does the electricity to recharge it come from a fossil fuel plant?

    Personally, to reduce global warming and CO2 emissions I hold my breath. In fact, I have not exhaled for 2 years now.

    furthermore, I have given up eating ruffage as flatulence emits too much Methane gas and that is 100 times more “greenhouse potent” than CO2.

  3. Lonn Maier permalink
    April 2, 2009

    I’d like to know where you derive your numbers. With a gas to air mixture of 12:1, a person would have to use 80 pounds of gas per year, assuming all the gas became CO2, which it doesn’t. I buy about 2 gallons per year of gas. Unless you have studies to back the contention, it’s hard to believe.


  4. ooglek permalink
    June 29, 2009

    Lonn —

    At 6.1lbs per gallon of gasoline, 80 lbs of gas represents about 13 gallons of gas per year. Since oxygen isn’t actually in the gasoline and is required for combustion, the carbon emissions PLUS the oxygen in the air used to make CO2 cause the weight to be 3 times the weight of the carbon emitted from the gasoline source. And remember that oxygen is further down the periodic table, and thus weighs more, and there are two of them per single atom of carbon.

    If you only buy 2 gallons per year, you must have almost NO lawn, or simply never mow, or have some sort of futuristic lawn mower that cost you an arm and a leg and a bar of gold but only uses 2oz of gas per hour.

    My experience is about 1 gallon per hour of mowing, and depending on how fast you mow, even a smallish lawn can take a while, depending on how wide your mowing deck is. At 6 months of mowing per year (at least here outside of DC), that’s 26 weeks, and assuming a gallon per week at 6.1lbs per gallon, that’s 158.6 lbs of gas, easily generating the 90lbs of CO2 emissions, especially since the combustion in a mower engine is likely much less inefficient than your car, and has no catalytic converter. Even at half that amount of gas, since only 27% of CO2 emissions by weight is actually carbon from the gas, 79.3 lbs of gas could generate 24.3 lbs of carbon emissions to make up 90 lbs of CO2.

  5. Daniel Stevens permalink
    August 12, 2009

    Great to see more of these battery powered lawn mowers. Although battery powered lawn mowers can cost more then a standard gas-powered mower they really do save money overtime! So easy to maintain as well :D

    Daniel Stevens

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