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Pitch

Encourage consumers to switch to electric mowers and/or replace lawns with vegetable gardens.


Description

Summary

5 million gas mowers are sold in the US every year.  A typical gas mower can emit the same amount of VOCs and NOx--key precursers to smog-- in an hour as a typical car driven 45 miles.

Americans burn 800 million gallons of gas each year cutting their lawns.

One gas mower running for an hour emits the same amount of pollutants as eight new cars driving at 55 mph for the same amount of time.


Key actor

Grassroots neighborhood organizations


What actions do you propose?

  • Incentivize the switch to electric mowers with tax credits and by educating  the consumer to the benefits of a machine with a simple electric motor vs. a gasoline engine.  Electric mowers use engines similar to the powerful motors in a golf cart.  Electric motors dont require oil changes, trips to the gas station or messing about with spark plugs and carburetors.
  • Because mowers are typically used for less than 2 hours per week, develope an optional solar charged unit so consumers could buy a solar panel for their shed or garage roof to charge the mower between uses.
  • Form neighborhood co-ops where people can get low cost rototilling to make it more simple to replace sections of their lawn with vegetable gardens.
  • The same neighborhood co-op could reuse flower pots, save and swap vegetable seeds and start plants for a low cost to memebers
  • Extra vegetables could be sold at the local farmers market or donated to the food bank.


Who will take these actions?

Homeowners and renters who have a lawn.  Possibly companies with green space might lease their lawn to locals if they can be released from any related liability (bee stings, tripping over the water hose).


Where will these actions be taken?

These things are to be done on a local level, neighbors helping neighbors.  Hopefully there are some retired folks that can spend some time keeping things going


How much will emissions be reduced or sequestered vs. business as usual levels?

Business as usual is 800 millions of gallons of gas per year.  Cutting grass using electricity still requires fuel, but the impact is greatly reduced.

If people grow vegetables instead of grass, you not only save on the fuel used to mow, but you also save on not having produce trucked or flown from California or Florida all over the US.


What are other key benefits?

  • The more fresh local produce you eat, the more you save in medical bills vs. eating prepackaged junk food and processed meat.
  • Plant diversity helps rebuild the bee population suffering from Colony Collapse Disorder (as long as you aren't spraying pesticides all over your garden)
  • Children are more likely to eat vegetables if they help grow them which creates lifelong healthy eating habits.
  • Weigh loss.  Vegetables are low fat and you have to get off of the couch a bit to take care of them.


What are the proposal’s costs?

Consumers already purchase lawn mowers.  If demand for electric mowers goes up, more will be invested into developing them.

Rototilling could be a value add niche market for a landscaper, farm supply store, or possibly a general contractor now that the market for housing has gone sour.


Time line

Ongoing.  Start immediately.


Related proposals

Contact Tesla Motors and have them partner with a big brand mower manufacturer to bring a top notch product to market.  Tesla is already somewhat connected with Solar City which would make the solar charging technology easy to pull together.


References

The EPA and Union of Concerned Scientists for lawnmower pollution statistics.