MOWER EXCHANGE: A new program could help you put a cleaner running lawn mower in your garage this spring

Posted on: 11:00 pm, March 29, 2011, by , updated on: 12:40pm, March 5, 2012

It’s time to trade in the snowblower for the lawn mower, and a new local program could help you put a cleaner running model in your garage.

It may not seem like you use a significant amount of gas mowing your lawn. But, the Environmental Protection Agency says cutting your grass contributes to about 5% of the nation’s total air pollution. A program in Polk County is trying to change that with a lawn mower exchange.

All it takes is a push of a button and the pull of a lever for Office Specialist Gloria Walraven to start mowing the grass. She says, “You just clutch it, pitch it in, and away it goes.” Walraven took a new Neuton mower for a test push. She says, “This is very easy. I was really surprised.”

The Neuton mower isn’t like most machines in central Iowa garages. Jeremy Becker, an engineer for Polk County’s Air Quality Division, says, “It’s all electric, low emissions, no gasoline.”

He says the electric mower is part of Polk County’s first lawn mower exchange. People can bring an old working gas powered lawn mower to Midwest Recovery Center in Bondurant to be recycled. Then, you’ll get a coupon from the county to buy a battery powered lawn mowers at a discounted rate. Becker says, “The whole premise is to get the less efficient, more polluting gasoline lawn mowers out of circulation and go to something with a little newer technology and less emissions.”

Becker says the Air Quality Division monitors the air you breathe throughout the year and notices a spike in ground level ozone and particulate pollution when the weather turns warm. He says it happens for a variety of reasons, including lawn care equipment. The EPA says that can cause breathing problems, especially for the young, old and people with asthma. He says, “This is something the average person can do to help reduce air pollution levels.”

Becker says the lawn mower exchange will make a modest difference at first. He says, “It’s not going to make a big difference the first year. We’re only looking to exchange about 30 to 35 lawnmowers.” But, he says the program should make a bigger difference in the future. Becker says replacing one mower is equal to taking one car off the road for 10,000 miles. He says the division will track who uses the electric mowers, and if the technology makes a difference. He says, “As the program grows from year to year, if we get up to 100 or 200 lawn mowers exchanged, then we’d see a significant reduction.”

As for Walraven, she says she wouldn’t mind pushing one of these around this summer. She says, “It was very easy to handle.”

This is only for Polk County Residents. If you participate in the program, you can choose from two models. One costs $149. The other costs $209, after the discount. A grant from Metro Waste Authority and the county are paying for the program.

Click here for more information about the Lawn Mower Exchange.

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