Jim Stringfellow: Don't blow it, rake it


Published: Sunday, January 8, 2012 at 6:01 a.m.
Last Modified: Wednesday, January 4, 2012 at 10:22 p.m.

I was watching a crew of landscaper workers the other day as they cleaned off the sidewalk in front of an office building downtown.

Using power leaf blowers, amid a high decibel noise level and large clouds of dust and debris (the workmen used ear protectors), the men meticulously blew a bunch of leaves off of the sidewalk and into the street gutter, where we assume they eventually end up in the city storm sewer system where they are a constant blockage

problem.

Fellow citizens, remember the lawn or leaf rake? It usually has 24 spring steel tines and a 4-foot wood handle. By drawing the rake with a bit of pressure against the earth’s surface, one can gather tree leaves into a pile, which then can be placed in a compost heap or used as mulch under existing landscape plants.

If I suggested, even tongue in cheek, that we outlaw all engine powered leaf blowers and go back to the lawn rake, I guess there would be those who would be ready to insist that I have lost my mind.

Yet the fact is that the two-cycle engine, (which powers all leaf blowers except those few that are now battery powered) is a recognized major source of air pollution in this country.

A main reason centers around the incomplete combustion feature of all two-cycle engines resulting in a toxic mixture of unburned fuel and exhaust pollutants emitted for all of us citizens to breathe.

The other reason is that there are just so many darn two-cycle engines in use now around the country.

Maybe it is time that we rethink this leaf blower thing and decide whether it is really worth all the noise and pollution to “cutesy pie” move a bunch of leaves from one place to another.

Jim Stringfellow lives in Gainesville.

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