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Old Baldy, Canada | photo by Cameron Schaus
Conservation Issues of the Ventana Chapter | chapter wide
Cutting their carbon footprints
January 2009

Clearcutting in the Sierra Nevada
Jerry Clarke mows next to the sculpture he created from driftwood and shells. Photo by Debbie Bulger.

by Debbie Bulger

A growing number of Central Coast residents have found a cleaner and greener way to cut their lawns. They are cutting their carbon footprints along with their grass. Esther Trible, Jerry Clarke, Karen Warren, Roberta Friedman, Robin Drury, and Andrew Dyer are a few of the smart locals using push mowers.

While friends and relatives in the Northeastern and Midwestern parts of the United States are shoveling snow or complaining about the cold, we on the Central Coast are mowing our lawns. If we use gasoline-powered lawnmowers, we are also emitting noise and noxious fumes.

An old two-stroke lawnmower can generate as much pollution in one hour as 40 pre-1995 cars driven for the same amount of time according to the Sacramento Metropolitan Air Quality Management District. A 2001 study by a Swedish chemist found that an average 4-stroke, 4-horsepower lawnmower used for one hour emitted the same pollution as a typical modern car driven about 100 miles. The researcher, Roger Westerholm, recommended putting catalytic converters on lawnmowers.

After a long fight with the U.S. EPA, California won the right to do just that. Starting in 2007 the California Air Resources Board required catalytic converters for lawn-mowers sold in California. In 2008, EPA finally adopted similar requirements for the nation which will begin in 2011.

Capitola resident Esther Trible enjoys the light weight of her push lawnmower, a Husqvarna. Her neighbor, Jerry Clarke, liked Trible’s lawnmower so much, he borrowed it for 10 years. It was quieter and more maneuverable than his gas mower. Now Jerry has his own. Esther bought it for him as a thank you gift for Jerry’s work in rebuilding her back deck.

Clearcutting in the Sierra Nevada
Capitola resident Esther Trible enjoys the light weight of her push mower. Photo by Debbie Bulger.

Both Trible and Clarke have small lawns. Trible’s keeps getting smaller. Last year she ripped out 200 square feet of lawn and replaced it with native and drought-tolerant plants. The Soquel Creek Water District paid her $2/sq. ft. for the conversion—enough to pay for the plants which are watered by drip irrigation.

“I have 10–15 varieties of salvia. Now there are many more birds and bees in my yard,” Trible said.

Even if you’re not interested in learning about the birds and the bees, you might want to learn about the benefits of push mowers. Push mowers, also called reel mowers or manual mowers, use human energy instead of fossil fuels. They provide good exercise, are quiet, economical, and best of all, use no gasoline or oil.

Karen Warren of Santa Cruz grew up using a push mower. She has a larger front and back lawn than either Trible or Clarke. Warren’s young daughter uses the yard to play, and her parents enjoy neighborhood get-togethers outside. “I hate the noise of a gas mower,” Warren explains. “When you’re spending time outside, you don’t want it spoiled by the noise of a gas mower.”

Roberta Friedman chose a push mower when the sound of the electric one she had been using made her toddler cry. “Besides,” she says, “I kept running over the cord.”

A quick Google search of “reel mowers” will give you a variety of options and brands to consider.

Clearcutting in the Sierra Nevada
Karen Warren of Santa Cruz grew up using a push mower. Photo by Debbie Bulger.



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In This Section

Current
Humpback whale visit poses eco-ethics questions
December 2011

California leads in fighting oil addiction
October 2011

Plastic bag ban gaining momentum
October 2011

WTO rules dolphin-safe tuna a trade violation
August 2011

WTO may cut US meat labeling
October 2011

Club's Beyond Coal Campaign awarded $50 million
August 2011

Whales store carbon
August 2011

Watershed Dippers
August 2011

Richardson Grove redwoods get reprieve
August 2011

Richardson Grove redwoods threatened by highway widening
June 2011

Resilient Habitats Campaign will address effects of sea level rise
April 2011

Enviros defeat Bohemian Grove logging plan
April 2011

Sierra Club works to phase out coal
April 2011

Protect CEQA and Environmental Laws in the State Budget Process
March 2011

FDA ponders genetically engineered salmon
December 2010

State of the air
December 2010

Antibacterial soap affects fish reproductive behavior
December 2010

State bill would ban single-use plastic bags
August 2010

Atrazine affects fish reproduction
August 2010

New law will protect Americans from formaldehyde
August 2010

Opt out of unwanted phone books
August 2010

You might not be planning for climate change, but the State is
June 2010

Club report explores ending oil dependence
June 2010

American pika
June 2010

Will Commercial Whaling Resume?
May 2010

Our national parks: a vision for the second century
February 2010

Former Yosemite Supervisors call for restoring Hetch Hetchy
December 2009

Assembly resolution puts pressure on Feds to enforce Marine Mammal Act
October 2009

Report proposes sustainable water solutions for California
October 2009

Free online course on Clean Water Act
October 2009

Only 11 states have bottle laws
October 2009

UCSC makes list of “Coolest” Schools
Sierra’s top 20 coolest schools of 2009
October 2009

Farr seeks upgrade of Pinnacles to National Park
October 2009

Fishing rods donated to youth programs
October 2009

State releases climate change adaptation plan
October 2009

State still considering new logging rules
August 2009

Old Growth Redwoods
August 2009

Protected land database now available
August 2009

How much would you save by ditching your gas guzzler?
August 2009

NOAA website provides resources for coastal cities dealing with climate change
August 2009

Stimulus funds to benefit national forests
August 2009

New report shows birds in decline
June 2009

700,000 acres of new wilderness designated in California
June 2009

Researchers map West Coast ocean threats
June 2009

Sierra Club successfully challenges Stockton’s General Plan Update
June 2009

Say NO to bottled water
June 2009

Local residents propose environmental laws
June 2009

Traffic pollution linked to new cases of asthma
June 2009

County Supervisors support net metering
June 2009

Labor and enviros join forces
April 2009

Restore Hetch Hetchy moves HQ to San Francisco
April 2009

Carl Pope to step down
January 2009

Border wall harming wildlife
January 2009

Learning bird behavior turns kids into scientists
January 2009

Air Board warns consumers about air purifiers
January 2009

Green Streets improve water quality
January 2009

State body proposes plastic bag fees
January 2009

Clean coal is a myth
January 2009

Cutting their carbon footprints
January 2009

Carl Pope to step down as Executive Director of Sierra Club
January 2009

Legislation needed to increase amount of renewable energy
December 2008

Recycling alone is not the answer
December 2008

Patented seeds violate farmer's rights
December 2008

Sierra Club organizer mobilizing volunteers against clearcutting
October 2008

PG&E invests in gas, nuclear and hot air
August 2008

Help prepare Sierra Club huts for winter
August 2008

Air Board develops draft plan to reduce greenhouse gas emissions
August 2008

Eating for a Healthy Planet
May 2008


Global Warming rekindles nuclear power debate
May 2008


Volunteers needed for LeConte Lodge
March 2008


Action Alert!
Tell the Governor to support Zero Emission Vehicles
March 2008


A gift for the Corrizo Plain pronghorn
January 2008


SB 375 would link land use planning and transportation
January 2008


Governor proposes closing state parks & cutting lifeguards
January 2008


Track green-ness of your electricity
December 2007


UC named 4th in Sierra's list of cool schools
December 2007


Clair Tappaan Warming Hut property protected by conservation easement
October 2007


Cutting back on meat can help global warming
October 2007


Disappearing polar bear habitat
October 2007


International trade
August 2007


Green wedding
August 2007


New roles for our National Parks
August 2007


How we reduced our carbon footprint
April 2007


Joyce Stevens turns 80!
February 2007


Sierra Club launches weekly radio show
February 2007


Co-op America's 12-Step Plan for Climate Action
February 2007


A visit with the great California condors
June 2006


Bush administration abandons long-standing protections for critical wildlife habitat on Alaska’s North Slope

Chapter opposes water management scheme for Seaside Aquifer

Chapter and Group events to highlight marine sanctuary

End of an era: Ventana Chapter Bookstore closes

California has opportunities to reduce mercury poisoning

A biting issue

Sanctuary Draft Management Plan due out this summer

Nature Conservancy acquires gateway to Pinnacles National Monument

Elkhorn Slough threatened by subdivisions

Open space preserved on San Mateo County Coast

Greased lightning - Peregrine falcons in California

It’s time to restore Hetch Hetchy

Appeal to deny subdivision near Elkhorn Slough successful

Chapter revises Los Padres National Forest map

Forest geneticists visit Point Lobos

Methyl bromide poisoning devastates farm workers’ health

Resurrect those old Sierra Club cups?

Transit - highway rules unfair

California's oak woodlands need your help!