Leaf blowers aren’t just noisy — they’re also huge climate polluters

Gas-powered lawn equipment like leaf blowers and lawn mowers pollute a lot more than you might think. They pump out millions of tons of carbon dioxide each year, the primary driver of climate change.

You know that annoying sound all too well — the ear-piercing whine of your neighbor’s leaf blower.

But as it turns out, gas-powered leaf blowers and other lawn equipment are more than just a noisy neighborhood nuisance. They’re also contributing to climate change — and they emit far more climate-warming pollution than you might expect.

The facts on gas-powered lawn equipment

Gas-powered leaf blowers, snow blowers, lawnmowers, weed trimmers and chainsaws are some of the dirtiest tools in the shed. And with millions of them owned and operated across the country, their climate-warming pollution really adds up.

In 2020, fossil fuel-powered lawn equipment emitted more than 30 million tons of carbon dioxide, the leading driver of climate change. 

To put that in context, that’s as much carbon pollution as comes out of the tailpipes of 6.6 million cars over the course of a year. And that’s more carbon pollution emitted by gas-powered lawn equipment in one year than was emitted by the entire city of Los Angeles in 2021.

The latest reports from the United Nations’ Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) warn us that urgent action is needed to avoid climate catastrophe. This past summer, we all felt it: the superpowered storms, floods, fires, heatwaves and more. And we know what’s causing it: our reliance on fossil fuels.

So why are we risking the worst just for a tidier lawn?

It’s time to switch to cleaner, quieter, electric lawn equipment

Fortunately, there’s a better way to clean up the yard without all that gas. Rakes have been around for ages, of course. But assuming the job requires something more, we have the technology to swap out our old, dirty, gas-powered lawn equipment for clean, electric versions. 

Electric leaf blowers, mowers and more are getting easier and easier to find at major hardware stores. Dozens of options for electric mowers, trimmers and other types of equipment are currently on the market, and more are coming along all the time. And they’re the better choice for a number of reasons:

  • Electric lawn equipment emits zero planet-warming emissions. 
  • Although electric lawn equipment can cost more upfront, they’re cheaper to own and operate than gas-powered equipment. They can save you money over time due to lower fuel and maintenance costs — usually paying back the initial investment in just a few years. 
  • And, as an added bonus, electric lawn equipment is far quieter than gas-powered versions — a welcome relief to your hearing and your neighbors.

A greener, healthier world requires each of us to do all we can to eliminate the pollution and practices that are warming the planet and changing our climate. So what are we waiting for? 

When every tool in the shed is electric, we can enjoy cleaner air, quieter neighborhoods, and the knowledge that we’re doing our part to leave a healthier planet to future generations.

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Authors

Luke Metzger

Executive Director, Environment Texas

As the executive director of Environment Texas, Luke is a leading voice in the state for clean air and water, parks and wildlife, and a livable climate. Luke recently led the successful campaign to get the Texas Legislature and voters to invest $1 billion to buy land for new state parks. He also helped win permanent protection for the Christmas Mountains of Big Bend; helped compel Exxon, Shell and Chevron Phillips to cut air pollution at four Texas refineries and chemical plants; and got the Austin and Houston school districts to install filters on water fountains to protect children from lead in drinking water. The San Antonio Current has called Luke "long one of the most energetic and dedicated defenders of environmental issues in the state." He has been named one of the "Top Lobbyists for Causes" by Capitol Inside, received the President's Award from the Texas Recreation and Parks Society for his work to protect Texas parks. He is a board member of the Clean Air Force of Central Texas and an advisory board member of the Texas Tech University Masters of Public Administration program. Luke, his wife, son and daughters are working to visit every state park in Texas.

Kirsten Schatz

Clean Air Advocate, CoPIRG

Kirsten joined CoPIRG's staff in 2022 and is focused on fighting for clean air for Coloradans and transforming transportation systems. Previously, she oversaw The Public Interest Network's efforts to engage alumni/former employees and volunteers in the network's work, specializing in communications and organizing events in dozens of cities. Kirsten lives in the Denver area with her husband and two children, where she is an avid hiker, biker, church choir member and gardener.

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