Opinion | Here’s a Better Way to Deal With Your Leaves. Your Neighbors, and the Planet, Will Thank You.

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By Jessica Stolzberg

Ms. Stolzberg is a writer who lives in Montclair, N.J.

The most recent United Nations climate report reminds us, once again, of what we already know: The steady rise in global temperature spells catastrophe. We must adapt to what cannot be undone and commit to reducing greenhouse gas emissions caused by the burning of fossil fuels.

We at home are left to wonder whether our daily decisions matter, as we watch a continuing parade of environmental and humanitarian disasters. Many of us have begun to accept that our children and theirs won’t know the same planet that we do.

Still, out of habit or hope, we continue to refuse plastic bags and search the underside of containers for the faint chasing-arrows symbol, eager to place them correctly into recycling. And we wait, looking to our elected officials for policies that will change our trajectory. We’ve been waiting for decades, as the distance in years between where we are and where we don’t want to be shrinks.

The question remains: What can we do?

We must, increasingly, look to ourselves and take charge of what we can change on our own. A starting point is in our own yards.

The gas leaf blower is by all measures, and without dispute, harmful — to the environment, to neighbors, to workers who carry them on their backs. These hazards have been the subject of countless articles. Local and national organizations work to educate and empower property owners, providing guides to alternatives.

Neighborhoods remain divided into those who allow the noise and pollution and those who have no choice but to live with it. Yet we all bring our recycling to the curb on the same day.

The fix is so easy. Electric leaf blowers are effective, available and affordable. They emit no fossil fuel pollution. Their decibel output is safe. The best part? To make the switch requires only the simplicity and speed of personal decision. Yours. Today.

Landscapers may throw up hurdles, but you can jump them. Invest in your own electric leaf blower to have charged and ready to use. Or share one with neighbors. Or seek out a yard service that is equipped to support you. They exist. As more of us join together, the landscaping industry will adapt. (There is, always and forever, the rake.)

Some may feel they offset the impact of the gas leaf blowers with robust recycling, choice of vehicle, “green” purchases and more. But by any measure of carbon footprints, this machine wears a dangerously outsize shoe. To see my neighbors’ electric car charging in their driveway as a gas blower blares across their yard leaves me bewildered. What breakdown in thought has happened there?

California is banning the sale of gas leaf blowers and other small gas-powered equipment starting in 2024, citing severe impact on environmental and human health and the imperative to reduce carbon emissions. A few cities, including Washington, D.C., have banned the use of gas leaf blowers entirely. They point the way, but this hard-won legislation is taking much too long.

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