It’s autumn in North America, and that means homeowners and contractors are busy removing suburban leaves. The deafening roar of a gas-powered leaf blower is nearly impossible to avoid.
Here’s what we know, without a doubt:
- Using a leaf blower is bad for the hearing and breathing of the user, often a low-paid worker with no real alternative.
- They are annoyingly loud, and can be heard from blocks away.
- There are many quieter, safer and cleaner alternatives, readily available. In the long run, they are also cheaper.
We also know that:
- In one hour, a gas-powered leaf blower will emit as much carbon dioxide as driving a typical internal combustion engine car 3,000 miles. (This is not a typo). Details are here.
- The competitive nature of commodity gardening forces gardeners to choose the fastest, cheapest option, regardless of labor costs, neighborhood or climate.
- Gas leaf blower replacement technology is proven, inexpensive and readily available. And yet… they are still here. And the reason is that they are convenient, a sunk cost and a short term profit hack.
The solution, if we are serious, is to ban gas leaf blowers. The replacement will pay for itself in a few weeks. When the competitive playing field is reset, gardeners will come forward. Employee well-being will increase, and the leaves will still bloom.
So what’s the problem?
We are not serious enough about making a change. If we care enough to get two dozen friends and neighbors to show up at the village hall, the rules can be changed in a few meetings.
But sometimes it’s easier to do nothing.