Efficient Lawn Mowers
Earth Tones by Sophia Dore & Andrew Laursen - Metro Canada
According to sources, including Environment Canada, The Ontario Ministry of Environment, and the David Suzuki Foundation, lawn mowers with conventional two-stroke engines emit as much pollution in one hour of operation as a typical passenger car travelling 550 to 600 kilometres. The pollutants from these engines contribute significantly to urban smog, hence the frequent advisories and bans on use on those hazy, smoggy summer days.
So if they are so bad, why do we still use these two-stroke mowers? The engine, while inefficient, is lightweight and relatively cheap to manufacture. And, given the total quantity of gas burned, these mowers are still relatively cheap to run. Electric mowers have generally been seen as inconvenient (needing an extension cord), or too expensive and too heavy (those with battery packs).
However, if you are in the market for a lawn mower, this may be the time to consider more efficient options. Many of the larger and heavier mowers (with battery packs or more efficient four-stroke engines) now come in self-propelled models. Further, a quick survey of two of the major sellers of mowers in Canada (Rona and Home Depot) shows the gap narrowing in cost between gas mowers and electric mowers with battery packs.
As electric mowers have become more popular, they have also become much more affordable. Some retailers even offer rebate programs when you recycle your old, inefficient mower, eliminating the price gap between buying a new electric and a new two-stroke gas mower.
Obviously, running an electric mower is not carbon neutral. However, energy generated in power plants is much more efficient than energy generated by all those two-stroke engines out there. And many retailers are now selling inexpensive solar panels that can be used to recharge (or partially recharge) the battery packs.
On a final note, the tranquility you preserve with an electric mower may allow you to better enjoy your garden. You may not scare off those butterflies and hummingbirds visiting your actual native flowering plants.