When my wife and I bought our first house in the middle of winter, purchasing a lawnmower was the last thing on our minds. As spring came upon us and the grass began to grow endlessly, we realized that we needed to get a mower. I soon found myself looking at various option of lawn mowers. There were push mowers that were in the $100 range, gas powered mowers that were in the $200+ range, electric mowers that were also in the $200+ range, and battery powered mowers that were in the $300+ range. Each had their own pros and cons. Ultimately, what influenced me was the cost of the mower and convenience, which led me to purchase the gas powered mower. Over the years of mowing and inhaling the fumes from the mower, I came to the conclusion that perhaps this was the wrong approach! After some research, I found that 5% of the US emissions could be traced back to lawn and garden equipment. In the late 90’s, regulations were changed to help standardize and minimize these emissions, however the impact has been minimal. Understanding environmental initiatives throughout the country has convinced me that reducing (if not eliminating) the 5% lawn mower emissions can be achieved.
Currently, there are some roadblocks that need overcoming in order to implement a change. At this time there are no incentives for homeowners to forgo the gas powered options and settle for an electric or push mower. There are significant cost savings with either, but ultimately a push mower is both the least expensive and environmentally friendly option for those in an urban setting. At this time, the options are few for those that live in the suburbs or have large properties. My proposal will address changes needed in the urban setting. In order to help promote push mowers and composting, I suggest that the city of Seattle do one of the following (or any combination)
- Provide a tax credit or discount towards purchasing push powered lawn mower.
- Provide a tax credit/deduction for a household that opts to reduce their grass area and replace it with hardscapes.
- Provide an incentive by lowering their compost rates during the spring and summer months, when mowing will take place the most.
- Arrange a yearly lawnmower exchange programs similar to the Carrot program in Utah. This exchange offers the opportunity to obtain an electric battery mower at a discounted price and allows you to turn in your gas powered mower for additional $100 credit towards the new mower.
- Provide incentives for community centers (similar to the Phinney Ridge Tool center) to provide a communal lawn mower.
Implementing one of the above will be a step in the right direction for reducing/eliminating emissions from this “low-hanging fruit”.