18 March 2010

Oregon Town Becoming 'Reel' Green

Sandy Post

Gas-powered lawn mowers produce as much air pollution as 43 new cars each being driven 12,000 miles thanks to high levels of carbon monoxide, nitrogen oxide and other compounds they create, according to peoplepoweredmachines.com.

The site also notes that each year, approximately 17 million gallons of fuel, mostly gasoline, are spilled each year when people try and refuel their mowers – an amount greater than the oil spilled by the Exxon Valdez.

Sandy’s Jay Bradshaw hopes to help abate that impact with his new business, The Quiet Garden. Born out of the downturn in the economy and difficulty with his job selling blueberry plants wholesale, The Quiet Garden offers lawn care, including mowing, edging, pruning and even his own natural pest repellant, in an environmentally friendly way. That means methods such as using a reel mower rather than a gas-powered one and composting trimmings.

“People say, ‘find the job that you like to do,’” Bradshaw said. “I could go out and work in the yard until dark. I really enjoy it; it’s peaceful, good therapy.”

Bradshaw sees the green lawn services business as a way to save gas, decrease emissions and build healthier lawns. And he noted that reel mowers offer a better cut for the grass and provide some good exercise, while the option of leaving clippings, which contain nitrogen, can also be beneficial to a lawn.

“When you use reel mowers to cut a yard, the blade cuts the grass instead of tearing it, so it’s healthier for the grass,” said Bradshaw, who also worked in the landscaping business in Chicago for the Theodore Brickman Company after attending Michigan State University. “And if you leave (the clippings) on the grass, you don’t have to worry about fertilization as much.”

Meanwhile, Bradshaw is also taking to heart that others have been affected by the recent economic difficulties and plans to incorporate that into his business. Last December, when his job took a turn for the worse, he noticed a Post article about the homeless around Sandy.

“I’m in a warm house and turning up the thermostat and thought of people in the woods,” Bradshaw said. “That really gets to my heartstrings.”

As part of his business, he plans to donate 10 percent of his earnings to the Sandy Action Center, with the hope that an endowment can be created to fund the organization’s activities.

“The more money you get in it, it starts growing,” Bradshaw said. He encourages others to help too, noting that a lot of people each doing a little bit will add up.

For more information, call 877-432-GREEN (4733) or visit thequietgarden.com.

Did you know?

• Americans burn 800 million gallons of gas each year trimming their grassy yards, according to the Environmental Protection Agency.

• One gas mower running for an hour emits the same amount of pollutants as eight new cars driving 55 mph for the same amount of time, according to the Union of Concerned Scientists.

• One hour of mowing is the equivalent of driving 350 miles in terms of volatile organic compounds.

• One gas mower spews 87 pounds of the greenhouse gas carbon dioxide, and 54 pounds of other pollutants into the air every year.

Facts taken from peoplepoweredmachines.com

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