Even as many of us at C.H.A.S.E. are following and engaging with national issues and politics, we haven’t neglected the local. It’s where we live and breathe.
Lately we’ve been accelerating education and outreach to help reveal the costs of gas-powered leaf blowers and the benefits of kicking them.
For instance, some people think gas-powered leaf blowers are only a noise issue, that their engines are not a big deal because they’re small. Yet two-stroke engines are worse in many ways than the larger ones in cars and trucks—they burn gas and oil together and emit a slew of toxins and carcinogens. These don’t just disappear into the sky—they can hang around at ground level for hours and are dangerous even in low concentrations.
And no one likes dirt and fumes being blown from a neighbor’s yard onto their window screens, their breakfast table, or worse, inside their home. The constant use of gas-powered leaf blowers all around us is a tax on our health and environment that we’re always paying.
We’ve also been reaching out to landscapers to let them know that residents care about this issue and are calling for change. Some landscapers haven’t looked at electric leaf blowers recently and may not be aware of how powerful and affordable they’ve become (they can pay for themselves in as little as a year, and then it’s higher profits). Others may not know how harmful the emissions are to their workers, or how much demand there is in Santa Cruz for cleaner and quieter landscape maintenance.
So we’ve posted letters that property owners can customize and send to their landscape company. And for companies that have already retired their two-stroke machines, we’ve created a small but growing directory of landscapers that offer either electric leaf blower or “no-blow” services so that property owners can find them and hire them. Please support these companies, and if yours has already gone green, please let us know so we can add them to our list.
Our stylin’ yard signs have hit the streets (well, yards) all over town, so more and more people are learning about our campaign and getting involved in ways large and small. We have some more signs, so if you know a neighbor or business who might post one, please encourage them—this is the best way to get the word out. Sign requests can be submitted here.
We’re in the peak of election season right now, so other signs and other campaigns—both local and national—are competing for everyone’s attention. But most of those signs will come down after the election; ours will remain, and then the city council will get back to work.
There will always be other issues that seem bigger or more pressing than a gas leaf blower ordinance, but few things are more important locally than people’s health, and the benefits that will follow—cleaner air, quieter neighborhoods, better health, long-term savings—will be reaped by all.
If the council hears that people want this, it could pass quickly and easily, as it has in other cities. But we need more voices in the choir–to share this with friends and neighbors, post yard signs, write to council, and more. Click here to pick one or two ways to help out.
Few issues have such widespread benefits, with long-term savings, to boot. It’s low-hanging fruit, still hanging from the tree.