‘Tis the time of autumn. European trees turn brilliant shades of red and yellow, children play in mounds of dried fallen leaves, paths become smothered and squelchy, and pavements are choked with the fumes of two-stroke engines. Yes, ’tis the season of the leaf-blowers.
For the next month or so, my route to work will be polluted by city workers, school care-takers, and Herne Bay gardeners carrying heavy, clumsy contraptions, noisily blowing about the fallen leaves until they become someone else’s problem.
They then leave, only to return the next day to blow about more (and probably the very same leaves from the day before).
I see the care-taker at Freeman’s Bay Primary School daily blowing clean the 50m footpath, so children can have a slip-free walk to their classroom.
Now, while I appreciate he is doing a valuable service, and paths smothered with wet rotting leaves can become precariously slippery, there are too many things wrong with this picture.
- Blasting leaves about to clear a footpath is little different from software developers re-assigning their bug to a different team in order to reduce their ticket count. A leaf-blower does not remove the excess leaves, but rather pushes them centimeters aside, where they will remain only until the wind changes.
- The media goes out of its way to inform us of the western obesity epidemic, and we are relentlessly reminded to teach children to be healthy and active. However, having pupils watch their school gardener choose to use a leaf blower over a broom, sends conflicting messages at best.
- In a time of trying to teach environmental awareness, what justification is there for a smelly, and noisy polluting machine, when a broom, rake and shovel could more cheaply, and efficiently achieve the same result in a similar amount of time? (Actually, probably less time, as the leaves would be permanently removed).
Having ranted that, I now need to go and make use of a motorised ice-cream cone so I can eat some ice-cream for my dessert.