University of Vermont

Students on the Lawn

Human Energy is Renewable Energy - Ban Leafblowers

    UVM is supposed to be a clean campus. So why is it that it's painful to breathe right now in my own room (in the GreenHouse no less!)?  It's because I had a window open.

"Toxic exhaust fumes and emissions are created by gas-powered leaf blowers. Exhaust pollution per leaf blower per hour is the equivalent of the amount of smog from 17 cars driven one hour and is localized in the area of blower usage. "  (Leaf Blower Pollution Hazards in Orange County -   Besides that, "The high-velocity air jets used in blowing leaves whip up dust and pollutants.  The particulate matter (PM) swept into the air by blowing leaves is composed of dust, fecal matter, pesticides, fungi, chemicals, fertilizers, spores, and street dirt which consists of lead and organic and elemental carbon. About five pounds of PM per leaf blower per hour are swept into the air and take hours to settle. "

A single leaf being persecuted by an emissions-spewing leaf-blower is all too common a sight.  Why are we allowing our clean air to be sacrificed for such a trivial cause?

My Clean Energy idea is to ban leaf-blowers on campus.  We live in Vermont.  Everyone's used to seeing leaves on the ground, and I think it's safe to assume that most people look forward to that gorgeous sign of autumn.  I realize that the leaves should be removed at some point so the greens can be green come spring, but why don't we utilize some clean energy and use human power? So many students are looking for some income to chip away at student debt - hire them to rake leaves.

Twenty or so students raking leaves for a few hours a week during the fall would cost about five thousand dollars in payments to them.  It would reduce noise pollution, keep tons of carbon dioxide out of our air, and help students see how simple sustainablitiy can be.