Monday, June 27, 2011

Switching to a Manual Lawn Mower by Jakob Barry

Switching to a Manual Lawn Mower

Lawn mowers as we know them were introduced to the masses in the early 1800s and were powered by people or animals.

Eventually gasoline and electric versions made their way onto the market and the old style manual “reel” or push mowers got lost in junk yards or the dark corners of basements.

In retrospect the transition made sense since using gas or electric made everyone’s lives easier when it came to cutting large lawns or trying to mow over tall grass.

However, in recent years sheer practicality is bringing back the manual reel.
  • It costs less both to purchase and operate
  • The newer ones are easier to push than their manually oriented predecessors
  • There’s no running on empty (no need for fuel or electricity)
  • There’s little if any maintenance though wiping down blades preserves them
  • The extra push to cut the grass adds a little workout fever to the chore

Meanwhile, grounds for switching back to manual mowers or at least having one as an option can further be justified through two other very important issues: curbing pollution and personal safety.


Did you know the level of emissions released over time by gasoline powered mowers for personal or commercial grounds maintenance can eventually equal what automobiles emit over hundreds of miles? Also, fumes or oil spills can poison grass or other plant life in the yard much like it harms vegetation along busy streets.

For these reasons and more the US Environmental Protection Agency has been setting new restrictions for small lawn equipment hoping to reduce the environmental impact. Still, next to wearing a gas mask the best way to not breathe in fumes while mowing the lawn is to use a manual mower.

Alternatively, noise is another type of pollution motor powered mowers cause. A gasoline or electric powered mower engine produces enough racket to affect our hearing and sour relationships with neighbors, especially if the lawn is mowed at the wrong time of day.

With a push mower it’s easy to listen to music and if necessary mow the lawn at six in the morning without making enemies.


Despite there being various sources calculating the annual amount of people injured in lawn mower accidents its clear those numbers are around 100,000 or higher, many children included. It’s also a fact that negligence is only part of the story as most of these accidents are related to the engine’s powering of high speed blades. In an instant they can cut up many hard substances sending pieces flying like shrapnel.

Electric models themselves have separate issues, as extension cords often get run over or tangled up causing damage to other things in the yard. With gas powered mowers the fuel is a hazard and homeowners have been known to throw out their back trying to start them up.

The bottom line: When it comes to safety there can be no compromising. That’s why although the powered mower is convenient and great for big jobs whenever possible the manual mower should be put to use.

Jakob Barry writes for, a growing community of homeowners and contractors getting the most from their resources by sharing and monitoring projects together. He covers various eco-friendly home improvement topics including Green landscaping and lawn services.

Tuesday, June 21, 2011

Summer Solstice

Happy Summer Solstice and the longest day of the year! The weather is warming up and many of us are thinking about vacations and outdoor activities. This time of year, however, can present us with some unique environmental challenges ... keeping cool, vacationing in a responsible way, maintaining a beautiful & Eco-friendly yard, etc. Is it possible to turn unique environmental challenges into opportunities? Well sure! Here are some ideas:

  • Turn your A/C thermostat to 75 degrees or higher. Better yet, don't use it at all.
  • Use ceiling fans. Adjust them so that they run in a counter-clockwise direction (stand under the fan and if you feel a breeze, it's set correctly).
  • Use box fans or small space fans to help circulate air. And here's a tip ... when it's cool outside, put a fan in the window facing in and blow cool air into the room. When it's hot inside, reverse it ... put a fan in the window facing out and blow the hot air outside. It works amazingly well.
  • Adjust the curtains and windows. Open them when it's cool and the sun isn't shining in. When the sun comes around, close both the windows and the shades.
  • Turn off all electrical devices when not in use. For example, when you're not using the computer, turn it off ... you'd be surprised at how much heat a computer puts out (there's a reason there are little fans inside of computers). And don't forget lights ... they generate quite a lot of heat as well.
  • Eat local and organic. Summer is the perfect time to eat fresh, local, organic produce. Support farmer's markets, CSAs and roadside stands. Or, start a garden and grow your own.
  • Get some exercise and leave the car at home. This is the perfect time of year to walk or ride a bike ... so give the car, and our air, a break.
  • Are you planning some landscaping this summer? Be sure to opt for native plants ... they'll require far less water and fertilizer.
  • When mowing lawns, use a push mower instead of the power version.
  • Does your deck, patio or walkway need cleaning? Sweep it instead of using a vacuum, blower or hose.
  • If you use large appliances like dishwashers, clothes washers and dryers ... operate them either early in the morning or late at night ... you'll not only save money by not running them during peak hours, you'll save energy.
  • Consider using a clothes line and make use of the sun.
  • Going on a picnic? Be sure to use reusable dishes and utensils ... no paper plates or plastic forks. And don't forget cloth napkins instead of paper. When the picnic is over, be sure to clean the area ... leaving nothing but your footprints.
  • Carry a reusable water bottle with you instead of buying bottled water.
  • Opt for counter top cooking rather than using an oven ... toaster ovens and crock pots make wonderful meals without using a lot of energy.
  • Are you planning a vacation? Consider a "staycation", playing tourist in your own town. If you decide to leave town, check out this post first: Vacations - The Eco-Friendly Way.
  • When buying typical summer products (sun lotions, swim suits, pool toys, etc.) be sure they are Eco-friendly.
  • Forgo expensive souvenirs and take digital photos instead. If you really want a souvenir, consider something from nature ... a rock or piece of driftwood.
  • Start a compost bin ... summer is the perfect time for composting.
  • Planning a little hiking or camping this summer? Remember to carry out what you carry in ... no littering. In fact, it's a pretty good rule for any activity, anytime.
I haven't forgotten those of you who are moving into winter. For our friends on the other side of the world, check out these posts:
With just a little effort, any season can be Eco-friendly ... and wonderful!

Happy Summer (or Winter) everyone!

Friday, June 10, 2011

Friday Film Fest

Happy Friday Everyone! We haven't done a film fest in awhile so ... sit back, relax ... and enjoy!

First up, the lovely Accessory Lady shared this:

Next up, from the talented Art Ist:

The fabulous Petunia GreenBeans shared this video after reading this week's challenge. Sorry, YouTube won't let me embed this one but it's great fun so click over and watch:

I recently found a fabulous blog called Urban Organic Gardener. The creative author, Mike Lieberman (aka CanarsieBK throughout the web) put together this video and has graciously agreed to share it with us:

And finally, just because I find it so delightful ... this video which was shared by my mom (thanks, Mom):

Have a great weekend!

Friday, June 3, 2011

Vegan Recipe - Roasted Veggie Pizza

It is my favorite day of the month ... the first Friday of the month when we share a delicious recipe. You might be wondering why a blog about "green" living posts recipes ... well, simply put, meatless meals are Eco-friendly because it takes far fewer resources to produce one pound of plant-based foods versus animal-based foods. So, it's an easy (and tasty) way to walk a little gentler on the earth.

I'd like to introduce you to Kristi, the brilliant author of Veggie Converter 365. This site is a bit different from other recipe sites which I've shared ... this one takes family favorites, usually made with meat, and converts them to vegetarian/vegan versions. You'll find marvelous dishes such as Spicy Rice Balls, which can be fried or cooked in a crock pot and which can be made ahead and frozen. How about Beefy Tacos or, for a more elegant dinner, Beef Wellington. Sounds good, doesn't it? Kristi also helps us out with vegan substitutes ... on this PAGE, you find substitutes for ham, eggs, gelatin, etc. It's a wonderful resource!

Today Kristi has kindly agreed to share one of her recipes with us. It looks delicious ... I hope you'll give it a try!

Roasted Veggie Pizza Recipe

Hello to Reduce Footprints readers. I'm so happy to share a vegan recipe with you: a delicious throw-every-veggie-in-the-oven pizza. You could make this with just about any combination of vegetables your family likes.

Roasted Veggie Pizza
1 pizza crust (I use the Betty Crocker recipe)
2-3 Tbsp. olive oil
3 cloves garlic, minced
1/4 onion, diced
1/2 bunch asparagus
2 portabella mushrooms, sliced
1-2 bell peppers, sliced
1 small or 1/2 medium zucchini, sliced lengthwise
House seasoning, to taste
1.5 C Daiya Mozzarella cheez (optional)

Par-bake crust at 400 for 20 minutes. Place all vegetables on a cookie sheet. Drizzle with olive oil and sprinkle with House seasoning. Bake at 400 for 30-40 minutes, flipping vegetables once about halfway through.

Top pizza crust with additional olive oil, veggies and "cheez," if desired. Bake at 375 for 20 minutes or until cheese is melted.

This pizza is excellent with or without the "cheez." I think I actualy prefer it without the cheez. The roasted veggies really shine when on their own.

Kristi @ Veggie Converter and vegetarian author of OAMM


I'd like to thank Kristi for sharing this delicious pizza recipe with us. If you have a vegan dish that you'd like to share, please send it to me HERE. As always, you can find all of the recipes we've posted by clicking the tab at the top of the page or clicking HERE. Happy Eating!!