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Living Lightly column

Lawn-mower the next step to cutting out fossil fuels

By Matthew Charles-Jones

Most of us love the smell of freshly cut lawn and its anchor in memories past. Sun-filled summers with friends, family, backyard cricket, burnt sausages and sunburn.

To build new memories, last week I purchased a battery mower. As with any significant change in long-held practice, the purchase came with some ambivalence. Despite an awareness of the pollution associated with small motors, I have long relied on noisy, smelly, oily and heavy push mowers and brush-cutters to maintain our garden. After all, this is what I have known, and I love the pleasure of transforming unkempt spring grass into passable lawn.

The mower, purchased in Wodonga, is battery powered, which I am in the fortunate position of being able to charge with solar power. This all adding symmetry to the process of cutting grass, itself solar powered. It seems I will need a second battery to mow our lawn in one hit, but these can also be used in other compatible appliances: chainsaws, brush-cutters and hedge trimmers.

So, there it is. A simple change in thinking (and saving of money to make a new purchase), has enabled another reduction in my day-to-day reliance on fossil fuels. I have replaced an ageing series of unreliable, clunky ‘heritage’ mowers with a smart device. It is made of metal, super quiet, near maintenance free and the fuel is the sun.

But more, it is these fossil fuels which are so intimately linked with the dramatic escalation of human-caused climate change, the effects of which creep ever deeper into our souls, community’s and political lives.

While the complexity of a meaningful response to climate change is hard to fathom, the day-to-day acts are so very real.  Each time you turn off a light, make a purchase, replace an appliance, ride rather than drive, choose an electricity retailer, select a bank, designate a superannuation provider or even make structural decisions about your garden, you are embedding another response to the wicked nature of climate change.

Will the decisions you make aggregate to a robust and ethical response to a problem almost beyond comprehension?

My eight-year-old now tells me I will have to fight him to use the mower. Good.  And we must all fight to make sure all eight-year-olds grow to a safe climate future.