The Environment / Toys and Tools

Lets face it,  boys and men love power tools. The bigger the better. I know people who actually look forward to snow so they can use their snowblowers

Iíve never owned a snow blower. I just donít understand them. Your walkway or driveway fills up with snow. You want it out of your way. Itís going to take up some of your time whatever technology you use. With the shovel you get to enjoy the fresh air of a quiet after-storm morning, you get some real muscle-building exercise. It takes a bit of time but you come in feeling good. With the snowblower you get to push a noisy machine around while breathing its fumes and annoying your neighbours.

Itís not that I reject labour saving devices, itís  that I would like them to represent a real and meaningful advantage, at a reasonable cost - to me - to the environment - and in relation to the good of our society.  When moving my furniture into my tenth floor apartment... I used the elevator!  When playing my electric guitar in a large hall - I use an amplifier - a big one!  Iím writing this using a computer - admittedly - an older one. There are technological innovations that are useful, almost indispensable, that make sense. But there are many that are just toys, and harmful toys at that.

Did anyone say ďSnowmobileĒ?

Much has been made lately of the Trans Canada Trail - a network of trails that hopefully will allow nature lovers to walk from one end of our fair land to the other. Sounded great to me - until I heard that parts of it would be designed for Cross-Country Skiers and Snowmobilers. As if the two are in any way compatible. As if someone who enjoys the tranquility of a moonlit night along a well treed trail wouldnít just recoil in horror at the thought of being mowed down by a speeding snow machine. Do I hate snowmobilers? No, some of my friends have them. Itís just that they represent a totally different perspective on the outdoors. A snowmobiler may have a love of the outdoors - but a love of nature - Iím not so sure. Itís hardly a low impact activity. These are toys.

And I assure you - Iím not a cross country ski nut - I actually prefer downhill skiing. And  modern technology has greatly improved that activity - climbing those mountains might indeed be good exercise but wouldnít allow for many runs per day.  Are the downhill ski areas not an intrusion upon the natural environment?  Of course they are. But a controlled one, limited in area. Every use we make of the environment is a trade-off. Iím not saying that we should outlaw snowmobiles, Iím just suggesting that there are better an cheaper ways to travel in the great winter outdoors. And Iíd prefer it if they stay out of my front yard.

What does a leaf blower really do?

Imagine a world without all those noisy annoying gasoline-powered, emission spewing garden tractors, snow blowers, lawn mowers and other ďlabour savingĒ toys that men so love to play with.. Think about it. 

Letís start with the toughest sell. Lawn Mowers. We need them .. right! True, we donít need to use them as often as some of my neighbors over the years have. I know people who didnít really retire from work when they reached the age, they went into full time lawn care.

 Mowing a lawn with a gasoline powered lawn mower is noisy and does environmental damage.

But you canít just let the grass grow? Well, in some cases you can, and Iím sure the world wouldnít be a worse place if it had a few less acres of manicured greenery. But lets concede that a cropped lawn or field is a convenience if only to make it easier to find lost toys.

Remember the push powered lawn mower? They actually worked, I saw someone using one quite recently. They might take a little longer but most of us could use the exercise. And those of us who couldnít could hire local kids to do the job. Works for everyone.

Or, if the push mower is too much for you (fair enough you might have a big lawn), is operating an electric mower that difficult. Friends tell me they would try a battery-operated mower but they are expensive. True, and batteries are seldom a good thing when one is concerned about the environment, but is dealing with an extension cord really that much of a burden? I prefer to think of it as a challenge.