Green Things Come in Large Packages

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.