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Leaf Blowers: Noisy, Smelly Symbols Of A World Gone Mad?

By Alex Campbell on April 14, 2011 in Other

Several months ago, I was strolling down a typically pretty, tree-lined Eastern Suburbs street on a beautiful summer morning when suddenly my ears were assaulted by a loud, mechanical whine and my eyes were violently attacked from all directions by hot air and dust. Once my vision returned, I was confronted by the image of a scowling woman desperately, but inexplicably, trying to remove an aesthetically pleasing carpet of fallen blossoms from her concrete driveway. Her weapon of choice was a two-stroke, hand-held leaf blower. At that moment, it occurred to me that multiple aspects of the scene I surveyed were appallingly wrong.

Leaf blowers use fossil fuels unnecessarily. At a time when our dependence on these dwindling and dirty resources should be winding down, using a power tool when there are perfectly good alternatives (e.g. rakes and brooms) within arm’s reach is simply unacceptable. As well as getting the job done, using a rake or broom will also provide you with some much-needed exercise. In addition to helping you manage your weight, exercise helps alleviate stress, anxiety and even depression, by stimulating your body to release chemicals like adrenaline and endorphins. Grabbing the leaf blower instead of the broom means you’ll miss out on that biochemical bonus of tidying up the yard.

Leaf blowers are also noisy. On my block and well within earshot, they start up before 9am and don’t cease their incessant whining until late afternoon, day after day with weekends offering no respite. Although, with respect to noise pollution, the use of leaf-blowers is not regulated any more stringently than other power tools, according to the Environmental Protection Authority noise complaints related to leaf blowers are among the most common in Australia. Incessant noise pollution can cause stress, anxiety, increase heart rates and lead to hearing loss. The sound of a leaf blower travels far and affects many, including those dwelling in apartments who lack the luxury of driveways and gardens but suffer anyway in the commotion of others fussing over theirs.

When the dust settles, does it really matter if there are a few leaves or flowers on your driveway? Relax and enjoy the fact that you have a driveway, a house, a garden, that there are trees along the streets in our beautiful city and that they are healthy enough to produce leaves and flowers. When they pile up, grab the rake and enjoy a coupe of hours outside, tending to your home and benefiting from the associated exercise!

To hear more from Alex and get a weekly fix of scientific, environmental and health-related info, tune-in to ‘Boiling Point’ on 89.7 FM Eastside Radio, every Tuesday at 6.00pm, stream online at www.eastsidefm.org, find her on Facebook or e-mail boilingpointscience@gmail.com


  1. Times are changing and the latest commercial grade electric leaf blowers (Pellenc) are greener quieter and if used by an environmentally minded operator ,used in conjunction with a rake, broom and bins to collect/ redistribute foliage as mulch and rubbish to bins, they can actual be beneficial to the environment.
    Yes using a leaf blower on soft surfaces is a waste of time! Obviously a rake would be the tool of choice.
    Electric leaf blowers can be used to redistribute fallen vegetation into piles, to be collected, and can cover large areas in minimal time. This saved time allows the user to then clear the kerb, gutter, drains and accessible areas of roadside adjoining the property being serviced, preventing rubbish from entering our water ways enabling the user to collect /mulch vegetation that would otherwise be left to decompose in waterways causing all sorts of issues for local fauna and flora
    Some may say that vegetation entering our waterways is a natural occurrence, but when you start covering large areas with hard rooftops, concrete and bitumen surfaces runoff is majorly increased causing larger amounts of rubbish and vegetation to enter drains of which lead to our waterways.
    A leaf blower in the middle of a natural rainforest would of course be pointless!, But unfortunately human kind have covered our earth in all sorts of hard surfaces to collect and distribute larger amounts of waste and debris directly to natural waterways. Under these circumstances tools need to be introduced that can cope with these un-natural environments and luckily now cleaner greener quieter tools are more readily available.

    Posted by: Green Edges To Hedges | February 1, 2012, 9:29 AM |

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