The largest home improvement store in America will be replacing gas-powered lawn mowers, leaf blowers, and trimmers with products that run on rechargeable batteries, a move that could have a huge environmental impact, considering gas-powered lawn mowers alone account for an estimated 5% of the total air pollution in the U.S.
The Home Depot’s Chief Sustainability Officer Ron Jarvis told The Cool Down that the move is a win-win.
“We all have houses, we all have neighbors,” he said. “The carbon emissions are one thing, the noise pollution is another. If you can solve both of those things with one change, that’s a win.”
Jarvis himself lives on farmland just north of Atlanta, Georgia, and spends a lot of his free time outdoors.
“I have push mowers, riding mowers, I weed eat, bush hog, I chop up a tree for firewood every time it falls down,” he told The Cool Down.
And he was initially a skeptic about going electric himself.
“I thought, if I buy this electric chainsaw, there’s no way I can do what I normally do,” he recalled. “Well, I was completely surprised. The torque and the power you get with these electric tools are just as good, maybe better, than the gas-powered. So the customer gets the attributes they’re used to with gas-powered equipment.”
Now, Jarvis is on a mission to make The Home Depot’s offerings cleaner and healthier for consumers.
“Today, most customers do the reviews and the research,” he said. “And they see a lot of these products have great reviews, and, they’re quieter and cleaner.”
The fact that customers can get a comparable – if not better – product at the same price point while massively reducing pollution led to The Home Depot’s decision.
Using a gas-powered lawn mower for an hour creates as much air pollution as driving 300 miles in an average car, according to a press release from the company, while running a gas leaf blower for an hour creates the same pollution as a 1,100-mile drive – the same as going from Los Angeles to Denver.
The company estimates that this move will reduce over 2 million metric tons (2.2 million tons) of planet-overheating pollution annually from the exhaust pipes of residential lawn equipment.
Electric equipment also requires less maintenance, on top of being far quieter than their gas-powered counterparts.
“The customer is not going to be smelling these fumes, not going to have to send it to the repairman, they’ll have a more pleasant experience,” Jarvis told The Cool Down.
The Home Depot has been working with vendors for the past 10 years to make top-tier battery-powered lawn products more readily available, and the company plans to make sure its customers know they’re not giving up anything.
“We don’t want the customer to have to stand in the aisle and have to choose between ‘good for the environment’ or ‘good for my wallet,’” Jarvis explained. “We know we’re a destination store for a lot of people, and we can influence people to do the right thing.”
“If you get a chance to clean something up, you should,” he said. “There are certain things that you intuitively know, this is where we need to go.”
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