In much of the northern hemisphere, the time of year is nigh for both brilliant fall foliage and its inescapable corollary: the persistent drone of high-powered leaf blowers. This year, however, may be just a little quieter.
Leaf blowers aren’t just autumn’s loudest hardware — they’re also hurricanes of pollution. Blowing just one hour’s worth of leaves with a gas-powered machine produces about as many smog-forming chemicals as driving 1,100 miles in a Toyota Camry, according to the California Air Resources Board. After years of pressure, those chemical (and audible) impacts are now pushing US municipalities to ban gas-powered tools, and presenting an opportunity for a new class of electric options. As those alternatives become more powerful and affordable than ever before, the American lawn is finally starting to go green.