Avoid Lawn Mower Pollution: Perform Routine Maintenance

Stephanie Bloyd, Mother Earth News Associate Editor
July/August 2006
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Did you know the average lawn mower emits as much smog-forming pollution as eight new cars traveling at 55 miles per hour? Lawn mowers, hedge trimmers, chain saws and leaf blowers represent a significant source of air pollution, according to the Union of Concerned Scientists (UCS). But there are a few things you can do to reduce the negative environmental impact of your lawn care:

1. Perform routine maintenance as recommended in the owner's manual. To keep your lawn tools performing at maximum efficiency, regularly change the motor oil, clean or replace air filters and do periodic tune-ups.

2. Keep blades sharp on cutting tools so you spend less time running the motor.

3. Clean underneath your lawn mower's deck for reduced resistance and maximum efficiency.

4. Use the correct mix of fuel and oil for equipment with two-stroke engines. Many lawn tools use two-stroke engines that are lightweight, less expensive and slightly more powerful for their size than the four-stroke engines found on most cars. But an incorrect mix of fuel and oil for your engine type will decrease its efficiency and increases pollution. Check your owner's manual to see which kind of engine your lawn tools use. And when the time comes to replace your current tools, choose models with four-stroke engines, which are more efficient and generate less pollution.

5. Avoid spilling gas when filling your mower's gas tank. When gasoline evaporates it contributes to air pollution, so use a funnel to pour gas into the tank, and be sure not to overfill it.

6. Replace old yard equipment with electric-powered options. While the initial cost may be higher than their gas-powered counterparts, electric mowers can be 50 percent less expensive to operate over a 10-year life span because of lower fuel costs.

7. Use manual tools such as push mowers, pruning shears, rakes or brooms ? you'll eliminate pollution and get more exercise.

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