Letter: ‘It wasn’t long ago that we all used rakes’

April 13, 2023

Gas-powered leaf blowers (GPLB) are spectacularly bad for us, both locally and globally.  Concord should phase them out.  

With their inefficient engines, GPLB generate an outsized amount of air pollution—greenhouse gasses, carcinogens, smog-forming emissions and fine particles.  Their powerful blasts send pesticides, molds and bacteria from the soil into the air.

Noise pollution from GPLB raises stress levels and blood pressure and causes hearing loss.  The piercing whine of GPLB is so loud, it is difficult for those trying to study or work from home to concentrate.

GPLB have been linked to a range of diseases, including cancer, asthma and heart disease.  The use of GPLB is particularly harmful to landscapers, who are exposed to hours of noise and the highest concentrations of air pollution. Paying them for manual cleanups would greatly improve their working conditions. 

A less well-known consequence of GPLB is the devastation they inflict upon the insects, birds and other small animals that live among us. Leaf-blowing strips our yards of food and shelter for these amazing creatures. It prevents birds from hearing each other. In contrast, quiet, “messy” yards filled with native plants support the lives of these animals, inviting butterflies and birds to thrive in our gardens. Sharing our land with animals is not just for nature-lovers; biodiversity is crucial to our survival as a species. 

Maintaining a carefully manicured lawn is a fashion, not a need. It’s time to rethink how we use the privilege of owning land. There is a common belief that we need GPLB, yet it wasn’t long ago that we all used rakes. We can return to rakes (or switch to electric leaf blowers).  Even better, we can minimize our lawns and tread gently on our land.  Our children, and their children, will thank us.

Anna Stevens

Hubbard Street