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Diggin' It

Spilled lawn mower gas costs you and the environment

By / August 27, 2008



It's pretty common to spill a bit of fuel when filling gas-powered lawn mowers. But did you know when you put all those little spills together, it's estimated (by the EPA) to add up to more than the oil dumped by the Exxon Valdez – 17 million gallons! And that's in just one year.

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When I read Jeff Ball's article Spilled Gas From Lawn Mowers, I kept shaking my head at the figures -- at $2.50 a gallon for gas, all those tiny spills waste $42 million yearly and may create more than 87 million tons of smog-producing pollution per day!

I don't take everything I read on the Web as gospel, of course. But I've known Jeff for years. He's a careful researcher. And while I realize all these figures are estimates, it's obvious that spilled gas is a environmental issue that gardeners should be paying attention to.

So I went poking around on the Web to learn more. Not only are we talking air quality, but contaminated water -- if spilled gasoline washes into wells or the ground.

For gardeners, Jeff suggests a spill-proof gas can, which, you won't be surprised to find, costs more than the kind you have now.

But these cans can prevent gas vapors and odors, improving the air in your garage or shed as well as outdoors. They also shut off when they're full, so you don't have spillover at the gas station.

Those benefits are a pretty good trade-off for maybe $15 or $20 more than you paid for your old can.

Some people will say you can avoid contributing to this problem by getting rid of your lawn. Others will advise you to switch to an electric-powered mower, a battery-powered one, or an old-fashioned reel mower.

But a small step in the right direction might be a new spill-proof gas can with a child-resistant cap.

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