May 23, 2024

Letter: Small choices add up to big differences

February 8, 2022

Warming weather = garden chores. Sharpening tools is a project, as is researching/shopping for replacement tools (hedge trimmers, weed whackers, chippers, mowers, blowers). 

Quiz time! The six most prolific air pollutants are: Nitrogen dioxide, sulfur dioxide, ozone, carbon monoxide and fine particulate matter (these travel deep into your lungs). In the ’70s strategies to clean up Valley air focused on cars and trucks, thanks to federal emission standards.  We still have problems with air pollution due to how we transport ourselves, produce and consume food and care for our properties, plus wildfire smoke. Air pollution symptoms include watery eyes, breathing, coughing, respiratory and cardiac illnesses. 

What does this have to do with garden tools? Let’s say you decided to purchase a new lawn mower.  Are you going two- or four-stroke gas powered? Or electric? Which type contributes less to climate change, to illnesses, to smog? Gas powered garden/repair tools are not regulated for fine particulate matter and smog forming chemicals.  One hour with a gas leaf blower is equivalent to driving a 2017 Camry for 1,100 miles.  Electric tools mean lower maintenance and easier storage. Hire someone to do yard work? What type of tools do they use? Happy shopping!

Louise D Shawkat


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Bert Etling

Bert Etling is the executive editor of Email him at

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