Every autumn the letters come in. “The racket in the courtyard of my building is deafening. Leaf blowers should be banned in Oak Park.” They also say fresh air and exercise are good for you and you should use a rake.
I have lived here for almost 40 years and have most common Oak Park attitudes. I am very concerned about climate change and have had an electric vehicle (EV) for almost three years. Before that I drove a hybrid car for 12 years. I stay and pay the high taxes even with no kids in school because I like the services provided by the village and the township and the park district and the library and the schools and the Water Reclamation District.
I don’t live in a courtyard building. I live in a single-family corner house. Around my house are acres of land called “the parkway.” I don’t own the parkway, the village of Oak Park owns the parkway. But by tradition (and probably by law) it is my responsibility to maintain those acres of land. That means putting on water I buy from the village. That means planting and fertilizing and weeding and aerating and dethatching and cutting and edging. And that means moving the leaves off the grass and out into neat piles in the street — but a few inches away from the curb.
Long ago I did all that work. But I am in my mid-80s. I am not up to the task, so I hire a lawn service to do that work. And they use leaf blowers. I know there are battery-operated leaf blowers. And there are battery-operated lawn mowers. But the technology has not reached the point where they would work for a professional crew. Just like hybrid technology works for passenger cars but is not ready for big over-the-road trucks yet.
So for now we are stuck with noisy, polluting gas-operated leaf blowers. But I have a special offer to make to anyone looking for healthy fresh air and exercise. If you will come to my house and do a good job of raking leaves, I promise my lawn service will not use any leaf blowers here. I will even lend you a rake to use on the job.
Ken Trainor responds: Excuses, excuses. Tell the lawn crew you want them to use an electric leaf blower. You’re paying them, after all. Or buy an electric leaf blower, plug it into your outlet and hand it to them. Consumers have power, in more ways than one. That’s how change takes place.