Gasoline-powered lawn mowers may be powerful. But they’re also a big source of air pollution. For each hour of operation, says the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality, “one gas-powered lawn mower emits 11 times more air pollution than a new car.”
In fact, emissions from the forty million American lawn mowers in use, along with other gas-powered garden tools, account for 5% of the nation’s air pollution. But there are more reasons why we’re focused on non-gasoline powered lawn mowers.
Air quality suffers even when people refuel their mowers. Each year, more than 17 million gallons of fuel are spilled when mowers and other tools are refueled. That creates an air pollution problem because the fuel is very volatile and quickly evaporates into the atmosphere, contributing to summer ozone problems.
One option is to get rid of your lawn altogether. We’ve pulled together 8 of the best non-grass alternatives that could work for you.
But if you do have a lawn, mow it using something that doesn’t use gasoline. Here are the best non-gasoline powered lawn mower options.
Non-Gasoline Powered Lawn Mower Options
1) Push reel mower: A push mower is a good option especially if you have a small lawn. You’ll need to keep the blades sharpened in order to do the best job on your lawn, but a big advantage is that the only energy needed to power this mower is yours. Bonus: you’ll get some exercise each time you mow the lawn.
2) Electric lawn mower: Using an electric lawn mower instead, say the experts in Texas, can reduce total energy costs for gas-powered lawn mowers and garden tools by 73%. Like hand-pushed reel mowers, electric mowers are usually lighter than gas-powered mowers, which is a major advantage. However, you will need a long extension cord and access to an outdoor electrical socket. I use an electric lawn mower and find it very convenient: I use a heavy-duty outdoor cord and keep it plugged in and coiled in the yard where it is easily accessible when I need it.
3) Battery-powered mower: Battery-powered mowers are slightly more convenient to operate than electric mowers because you don’t have to worry about the extension cord. On the other hand, the battery needs to be fully charged to last the longest amount of time while you’re mowing, and even so, the battery may run out before you finish the job. If you have a small lawn with no access to an electrical outlet, but find a push mower too hard, a battery-powered mower could be a good solution.
4) Electric and battery-powered weed whackers and trimmers: If your “lawn” consists of a patch of grass below the sidewalk, or the strip next to the driveway, you might not need a mower at all. Weed whackers make short work of grass and weeds, and you can get them powered either by electricity or by battery. Of course, you wouldn’t want to wack an entire lawn. But for small areas, weed wackers are very light and portable, and use very little energy.
5) Scythe – Scythes are the original eco-friendly lawn mowers. They’re totally human powered and very simple technology: essentially, a curved blade is attached to a long stick, and the mower swings the sharpened scythe across the grass, cutting it as close to the ground as possible. It’s a little “grim reaper”-ish for me, and they need to be used very carefully to make sure no one accidentally walks in the path of the scythe! But on property where the grass and weeds grow so tall that even a mower can’t get through, a scythe can be a handy tool to have around.