By Julie Bonnin

The last thing many homeowners may be thinking about when they yank the plug on their gas-powered lawnmower is their contribution to global warming and poor air quality.

Photo: Clean Air Gardening

Brill rotary mower

But as more and more people attempt to lessen the environmental footprint they leave behind, one of the first areas they should take a look at is the lawn and garden equipment stashed in their garage.

According to one study from the Environmental Protection Agency, one gas-powered mower emits as much air pollution in one hour as a car driven 100 miles. The same mowing session (or use of a gas-powered leaf blower and/or edger for an hour) releases as many hydrocarbons — a key component of harmful ground level ozone — as are released by a 1992 Ford Explorer driven 23,600 miles.

While cars have to be outfitted with catalytic converters, the smaller engines that power gas-powered blowers, edgers and mowers, are not.

“People definitely have very little idea that gasoline powered lawn equipment causes such enormous amounts of air pollution, even though they only use a small amount of gasoline,” said Lars Hundley, who owns Clean Air Gardening, which sells and ships electric lawn care tools and rotary push mowers to people around the country.

“It doesn’t seem to make that much intuitive sense. But the fact is that automobiles cost thousands of dollars and have expensive, heavy and sophisticated systems to control their emissions.”

The good news? There are lots of ways to reduce your impact on the environment without completely neglecting your outdoor space.

One of the most obvious ways is to invest in electric-powered equipment. Many municipalities,

Photo: NEUTON® Power Equipment

NEUTON battery-powered mower

including Sacramento and Dallas, offer periodic trade-in programs that allow consumers to drop off gas-powered mowers in exchange for deeply discounted electric powered mowers.

Rotary push mowers are also making somewhat of a comeback, Hundley said. Since going into business 10 years ago, his company has seen “exponential growth” in those products each year, he said. The added bonus with push mowers, or in using other low-tech gardening tools like rakes instead of noisy blowers, is that you can count the activity as a part of a daily exercise workout.