Green product Saturdays: Lawn mowers

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reelmower.jpgReel mowers
Craftsman 18-inch Cut Path Reel Mower
Reel mowers, the real name for those nonmotorized lawn mowers you see dads pushing in 1950s sitcoms, are back. And they're doing pretty well judging by the fact that was sold out of these babies on Thursday.
We bought our house in October, meaning we had till spring to figure out the lawn mower situation. We wanted to go earth friendly.
We went to the Sears Hardware in Bolingbrook and got this reel beauty.
It's got it's benefits and drawbacks, but we think it's a good choice for most people.

The benefits
At just $99, it's a bargain by any lawn mowing standards.
It's quiet, fuel-free and doesn't emit carbon.
We're not buying gas and oil to keep this bad-boy going. It runs on calories, something I have more than enough of.
The silence is one of the best parts. It makes a soft whoosh-whoosh-whoosh noise as it sails through the grass. It's not just quiet; the noise it makes is actually soothing and relaxing. Plus, if I want to listen to earphones while mowing, I don't have to crank the sound up to an unhealthily level to be heard over a motor.
It weighs just 31 pounds and you can add an optional grass catcher if you want to add your cuttings to the compost bin. (You can set your grass height too so you're not shearing your grass right before drought seasoning.)
Since this is human-propelled, you and your tykes won't be losing fingers to this thing. The blades feel dull, so you won't brush up against it and cut yourself, but they're sharp enough to cut grass.
My husband put it together easily, without instructions, and had it working in no time. Even if something goes wrong, we have a guarantee through Sears.
And the handle kind of folds back so it takes up virtually no space in the garage.
The EPA estimates that 5 percent of U.S. air pollution comes from lawn mowers alone. (Another 5 percent comes from other lawn and garden equipment.) Is that what you want to send out when there's a clean option available at a lower price?
The caveats
Yeah, it's a little more work. A former co-worker is using a reel mower at her Joliet home. She says she's building her biceps. She's got the right idea I think it's hilarious that someone will buy a huge, expensive, carbon-belching riding mower to do their quarter acre in leisure, then jump into their Hummer to get some exercise at the gym. Why not just mow with a reel mower? I can handle our reel mower. It's about as much of a workout at the motorized push mowers that aren't self-propelled.
And this thing doesn't care for branches ... or thin weeds. If you have branches, they're going to slow you down, because you'll have to stop to clear the branches from the blades. And thin, yielding weeds will slide through those blades with joy. My husband sometimes mows the whole yard, then does it the other direction to catch them.
While this simple machine went together easily, my husband makes some adjustments periodically. He just keeps a screwdriver in the garage and tightens and loosens as needed. Much cheaper fix than a motorized mower.
You'll also be the subject of, well, looks. So far, the most consistent response is, "Are you really mowing with that?" I'm not sure if they think we're pulling a prank or if they think we dragged some antique mower out to give it a go for fun. Yes, we are. Yes, it cuts. Yes, we like our lungs and don't want to add pollution. Yes, we like not buying extra gas.

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Julie Todd

Julie Todd is the night editor at The Herald News in Joliet. She and her husband are looking to cut the chemicals and get back to basics -- minus the granola and hemp clothing. They live in a home they bought last year in Plainfield, where they're making changes to create their own little patch of utopia.



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This page contains a single entry by Julie Todd published on June 21, 2008 8:00 AM.

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