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COLUMN: Mower isn’t polluting anymore

Reel mower might be old school, but it's also better for the environment.
An old school reel mower is better for the environment.

Little by little, my environmental footprint is getting smaller. 

A few weeks back, I decided it was time to put my old gas-powered lawnmower out to pasture. Actually, I just rolled it out to the curb on Curbside Giveaway Day and within about 30 minutes it had found a new home. 

I had concluded that given the size of my yard and the infrequent need to mow, that a gas-powered mower was overkill, a notion that was driven home when I interviewed Okotoks homeowner Gordon Petersen for a xeriscaping article in our spring edition of Foothills Magazine. Petersen has a particular disdain for gas-powered mowers and leaf blowers because of their significant environmental impacts, which in many cases are greater than today’s modern vehicles. 

So, I decided one Saturday morning to head to Canadian Tire and plunk down $129 for a reel mower that I’ve since used twice this spring with good results. It's narrower than the old gas-powered mower so it requires a few more passes to cover the whole yard, but it’s light enough that the effort it takes to push it compares favourably to a motorized version. 

There's no bag so the grass clippings stay on the lawn, which is supposed to be a good thing nutrient-wise, so as it turns out, the push mower is beneficial for the air as well as the earth. 

It’s an admittedly small step, and given I was firing up the gas-powered mower infrequently, it will only do so much to save the planet, but as they say, every little bit helps. 

Under that file, I have to say that my first experience with a rain barrel purchased earlier this spring was also positive (thanks to a 50 per cent rebate from the Town) and equally simple. Using it feels a bit like you’re cheating the system, that you’re able to water the plants without the financial or environmental cost of turning on the tap, although it’s just common sense to capture rainwater and repurpose it in the garden. 

Getting rid of the hot tub we inherited when buying the house has been another small step in a green direction. Having a hot tub for the first time in our lives felt like a bit of a luxury, so as much as we knew it was a water and power suck, we were nonetheless excited by the prospect of a soothing soak on the patio any time we wanted. 

When motor problems were followed by a crack in the fiberglass, and then another one, it soon became apparent that it was more trouble than it was worth, so we had it removed. I’d like to say we got rid of the hot tub purely for environmental reasons, but if it had been newer and more reliable, my guess is that those jets would have been pulsating warm water into my lower back with some amount of regularity these days. 

It’s true that going green is a gradual process where sometimes you take the initiative and other times it kind of falls into your lap. Either way, every little bit helps. 

Ted Murphy

About the Author: Ted Murphy

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