Mowing is standard maintenance for lawns and fields.
Yet gas-powered lawn mowers contaminate our air and groundwater at a scale not widely recognized.
Operating a gasoline-powered lawn mower for one hour emits air pollutants equivalent to driving 300 miles.
Beyond polluting the air, lawn mowers are also a major source of spills. The EPA estimates over 17 million gallons of fuel, mostly gasoline, are spilled each year during refueling — more than all the oil discharged by the notorious Exxon Valdez tanker disaster in the Gulf of Alaska in 1989. Spilled fuel contaminates groundwater and further contributes to air pollution as it evaporates.
A simpler, low-tech solution is controlled grazing of domestic livestock. Not only are air impacts less severe, but the use of sheep or goats reduces pesticide use and improves plant biodiversity and soil health.
“Not only are air impacts less severe, but the use of sheep or goats reduces pesticide use and improves plant biodiversity and soil health.”
From goats in Pittsburgh to sheep in New York City, allowing animals to once again graze the land is gaining popularity.
As landscapes heal, livestock have an effective, low-impact role to play in a holistic program of progressive brownfield regeneration.