To the Editor:
In Princeton, because of our new Sustainable Landscaping Ordinance, gas-powered leaf blowers will not be permitted from May 16, 2022 through September 30, 2022. Our town is by no means unique in starting to protect residents, landscaping workers, and the environment from the noise and pollutants generated by two-stroke gas engines such as those used in gas leaf blowers.
Our ordinance is part of a major trend. Over 50 towns and cities in the U.S. have some kind of ban on gas leaf blowers. Most bans are seasonal, like Princeton’s, permitting gas leaf blowers only in the fall, when they are used primarily for leaves, and in some towns like Princeton also in the spring, when they are intended to be used for “spring clean-up.” For example, 12 towns In New York State and 7 towns in Illinois have seasonal bans. In our own state of New Jersey, Montclair, Summit, and South Orange all have seasonal bans. Like Princeton’s ordinance, most towns’ ordinances permit electric leaf blowers all year round.
But recently, towns and cities are passing more extensive bans. For example, 19 towns in California and 3 towns in Colorado have banned gas leaf blowers year-round. On the East Coast, Washington DC, Burlington VT, Larchmont NY, and Chevy Chase MD have taken the same action. In New Jersey, Maplewood’s governing body encountered not a single objection from residents or landscapers when it recently changed its seasonal ban to a year-round ban. Quiet Princeton hopes that Princeton will soon follow Maplewood by changing its seasonal ban to a year-round ban.
In California, there is ground-breaking statewide action. A recently-passed California law will ban the sale in the state of all gas-powered lawn equipment, starting in 2024. A similar bill has been introduced in the New Jersey legislature; it is only for gas-powered leaf blowers.
Although Princeton’s ordinance is not unique, Princeton is unique in its inclusivity and its awareness of social justice issues. As far as Quiet Princeton can tell, Princeton is the only municipality in the US that included landscape company owners and workers in the development of its ordinance. The regulations in Princeton’s Sustainable Landscaping Ordinance are all things that the participating owners and workers either suggested or said that they could live with. In addition, Sustainable Princeton, with support from Quiet Princeton and other donors, established a fund to assist owners of small landscape companies in making the transition from gas leaf blowers to electric leaf blowers. We can all be proud of Princeton’s unique approaches to the problem of gas leaf blowers.
Co-founder of Quiet Princeton