Ah, summer. The sound of birds singing in the morning. The roar of the lawn mowers. The buzz of the cicadas in the trees. The cacophony of the grass edgers.
Wait a minute. Whatever happened to quiet summers? Why are we putting up with all this noise. Few things demolish the serenity of a summer day like the 70-decibel scream of a gas-fed leaf blower.
Some 60 million of us now live in homeowner associations that contract with landscape maintenance companies that regularly disturb our peace, a cavalry astride giant mowers that invade our territory weekly, followed by an infantry of backpack engines that whack weeds and trim hedges. We are forced to seal ourselves in from the glorious weather to avoid the noise and the stink of unfiltered spent gasoline polluting the air.
Since lawnmowers, hedge trimmers and leaf blowers are powered by two-cycle gas engines, which run on a mixture of gas and oil, 30% of that mixture is
released directly into the air and a half-hour operation of one of them releases as many emissions as a sedan traveling 2200 miles. The worst offenders are the high-powered leaf blowers which not only create an infernal racket but also affect air quality by the particulate matter which they stir up, including dust, fecal matter, fungi, chemical fertilizers and pesticides. Some communities have banned gas-powered leaf blowers for these reasons.
Time was when they earned money during the summer to help pay for their own expenses. Yet it was estimated that only 1/3rd of 16-19 year olds had summer jobs in 2008. A troubled economy is somewhat to blame, but “most affluent college students simply refuse to spend the summer” working, according to The Week magazine.
When yet another bucolic Wednesday was shattered last week by the usual din, I had an epiphany. What if some of those teenagers floundering at the lakes or the beaches across America were to rise up and do something to mitigate the staggering college debt that otherwise awaits their future? They could pool their pizza money and buy manual lawn mowers, hedge
clippers, edgers and rakes and offer your community