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14 November, 2009

Kill the Leaf Blowers!

I have a new all-purpose policy that will benefit the nation's security, environment, public health, and education. It's simple. Get rid of the leaf-blowers.

In the past couple of decades, leaf-blowers have supplanted rakes. Archaeologists hundreds of years from now will attest to this fact, especially since most of the consumer models don't last much longer than a rake, and will be among the diagnostic artifacts of late 20th and early 21st century strata of landfills. The era that the Bush Dynasty would have had historians term the New World Order, but which will more likely be known as the American Twilight.

And if I have anything to do with it, leaf-blowers will cease to appear in the not-distant future, their vile presence will end, and humanity will be the better for it.


A lot of it has to do with reliance on crappy little combustion engines, the kind that are churned out cheaply enough to be commodities, not durable capital. Because it takes a cheap engine to power a tool that must find its way into every house with an SUV as well as every grounds maintenance crew, leaf-blowers are low quality things with no attention to efficient design. They are made by and for corporations who thwart attempts to regulate the emissions, efficiency, noise, or anything beyond shielding the populace from the most negligent and grievous bodily harm. Because in our era the consumption economy rules, leaf-blowers use too much fuel and spew too much noise and exhaust. They degrade the world we live in.

Maybe they are just little things, and I'll grant that the typical user burns only a few gallons of gas a year using them. But there are millions of them, and grounds crews fire them up daily to move grass clippings, leaves, and litter at residences, businesses, office and school campuses, and government facilities. Meanwhile, our government sends men and women (many of whom ran leaf-blowers until they signed up with the military seeking a better life) to die in foreign countries, protecting the crude flow so that Americans will have the freedom to waste. Leaf-blowers, like other conveniences that run on fossil fuel, are a security threat.

And did I mention that the noise and stink are annoying? No, beyond annoying. Indefensible assaults on the environment, or on God's creation if you think of the earth that way.

Besides that, leaf-blowers grease the skids for the American slide down to fat stupidity. The rake is a work-out tool, and when operated by someone with a sense of the world around them--the wind patterns, terrain, vegetation--functions as fast as the blow-hard machine. The leaf-blower disconnects the user from their place, reduces the clean-up process to point and shoot, absent any deft flicks of wrist or awareness of mind. Watch most leaf-blowers in operation, and you see idiots blowing the same leaves over and over, often fighting a wind that funnels through their neighborhood most every day. I've seen people blow and blow at a soggy or twig-entangled leaf for minutes without thinking to let go of the trigger and use their hand for a second. These guys get fatter and stupider as they forget what a rake can do, and I don't think the fumes are helping much.

And it's not just that they play into individual laziness of mind and body. Leaf-blowers give whining, droning voice to sociopathy. People who would never rake a pile of leaves into their neighbor's yard seem to have no compunction  about blowing them just over the property line. This goes double for blowing leaves into streets, and where I live, that means getting rid of leaves into bike lanes, where a mat of slippery leaves is not just an inconvenience, but a hazard. (And a word to you assholes who do this: the cyclists will veer into the road, impeding your SUV.) And of course the noise and stink. The most obnoxious thing a rake can do is scrape on some concrete, but I had to listen to the on-and-off buzz of a neighbor's leaf-blower for hours today. And if his inconsideration doesn't rise to the level of sociopathy in your estimation, how about the assault I would've unleashed had it lasted another hour?

When the blow-hards aren't putting their leaves where they will be someone else's problem, what they usually do is bag them up (often needing a rake in the process) and have them taken away. These folks are not usually the composting type. Members of that vast suburban nation whose reverence of consumerism and spotless lawns led them to buy the blower in the first place tend to put leaves in plastic bags (more petrochemicals), treating this biomass like trash, maybe hauled to a greenwaste facility if their suburb is affluent and educated enough, but still something offensive, needing to be taken out of their site. For some reason, they cannot enjoy the beauty of colorful leaves on a green lawn, and feel compelled to blow away leaves until they can gaze on an expanse of what could be astro-turf. They may be good church-goers, but complain incessantly about god's leaves that fall on god's green earth. These same people will then buy compost, soil amendments, and of course fertilizer (more petrochemicals!), oblivious to the irony their inartful stupidity hath wrought.

So that's why the leaf-blower is a tool whose time has come to disappear. It lessens the ecological and aesthetic value of the place where it is used. It keeps us tethered to a fuel source (and often as not an overseas factory) that undermine our political and economic security. It makes us less healthy, more stupid, and decreasingly connected to our patch of earth and to each other. So pick up a rake (which works just as well, and costs way less), rebuild your muscles, enjoy the smell of leaves and grass, hear the birds sing, and bask in freedom from that stinking, droning blow-hard.


  1. Electric leaf blowers just require a long extension cord.

  2. Well said. Leaf blowers are the BMW drivers of the lawn circuit!

  3. Thank You! I work in the ground floor of a hi rise and listen to the leaf blower every day. Yes, every day. Apparently our insurance company requires that leaves be off the walkways at all times. So they blow everyday and they dont pick up a single leaf!!! Picking up leaves is for another blowing crew that comes twice a month. Thanks a million insurance attorneys. You are true scum of the earth. Kill Your Leaf Blowers!!!!

  4. One error: You say a leaf blower will last about as long as a rake. Hah. The rake will last much longer.

    The guy who invented leaf blowers is bunkmates with Hitler in hell.

  5. Well said!! i thought i was the only one who hated them so much. There just arent enough leaf blower-haters out there to make a difference. What is wrong with people. Sheep, all of them.

  6. I hate them, too. My reel mower replaces a gas-driven mower, makes no noise and does not stink. I don't need to go get gas, change oil and filter. I can still hear the birds singing.

    I have four rakes. One rake was here when we moved here in 1977. it was ancient then! If people were not allowed to use leaf blowers, there would be more jobs that would help people stay in shape. There are plenty of people here who are unskilled, so this would be perfect.

    We have trucks engineered to do one thing only--suck up leaves from the street where people rake them. There is a vacuum hose about 18" across that they can guide along the curb.

    I have whoever rakes my leaves put them about two feet deep in the chickens' 10'x10' pen. That way, I don't have to buy straw. The rest are piled outside the pen for later use. I use the pine needles for the same thing, never allowing anyone to rake them except to rake them for the hens' pen..

  7. Yeah. Leaf blowers suck!