Tommy Greenwald grew up in Westport. He’s still here.
The 1979 Staples High School graduate/Broadway advertising executive/children’s book author has seen it all.
Unfortunately, he’s heard it all too. Tommy writes:
No doubt about it, I spend way too much time whining about the cars that are getting bigger and bigger, the Halloween decorations that are getting excessiver and excessiver, and traffic that is getting insaner and insaner.
But today, I’m talking about something much more down to earth.
They’ve taken over Westport. Am I right?
It doesn’t matter if I’m going for my morning run (make that “jog”) (actually, make that “glorified stroll”) around Cob Drive, walking the dog up Blue Ribbon, or visiting a friend on Juniper Road. You can’t escape these infernal beasts. They are literally everywhere, every day. And somehow, some way, they’re just getting louder and LOUDER and LOUDER.
I’ve hated the damn things for years. Sometimes irrationally, I admit. I’ve been known to yell and scream way out of proportion when that unmistakable, jet engine-like cacophony touches down in our neighborhood. And when I do, most people (I’m looking at you, Cathy Utz) roll their eyes at me.
So for the most part, I’ve learned to hold my tongue. It’s hardly the most pressing issue in the world these days, right?
Well, as it turns out, not so right.
As Margaret Renkl points out in a recent New York Times piece (which has the beautiful title “The First Thing We Do, Let’s Kill All The Leaf Blowers“), it’s not just a matter of noise pollution, as wildly maddening as that is.
It also turns out that leaf-blowers are an environmental violation in the extreme.
Did you know that running a leaf blower for a half hour is worse than driving a truck from Alaska to Texas? I certainly didn’t, until Ms. Renkl pointed it out.
These gas-and-oil-powered backpacks from hell also endanger a whole ecosystem of fauna and flora that live among our grasses. And before you plead concern for the landscapers who run the machines — and I understand that, believe me — it might interest you to know that those who handle leaf blowers regularly are subject to an increased risk of lung cancer, asthma, cardiovascular disease, premature birth and other life-threatening conditions.
There are many remedies to this curse. The first, of course, is to let sleeping leaves lie, or mulch them with your (battery-powered) lawn mower — according to Renkl, “the ideal fertilizer for a lawn is a tree’s own fallen leaves.”
But for those who can’t sleep at night if there is so much as one leaf soiling their stunning green lawn, the good news is: There are newer, safer, and quieter technologies on the market. That’s good news for both the earth, and her residents.
We’re coming up on an important election here in Westport. I, for one, would love to know where Jonathan Steinberg, Jen Tooker and TJ Elgin stand on the issue of leaf blowers. It is way past time to ban, or at the very least, heavily regulate these “monsters” (Renkl’s word, not mine) ASAP.
I don’t deny having become one of those proverbial crabby old guys who yell, “Get off my lawn!” But when it comes to leaf blowers, I hope all Westporters join me in yelling, “Get off our lawns!”