The QC affiliate, Sonoma CALM, is making impressive progress in reducing gas leaf blower (GLB) use in Sonoma, California by engaging one-on-one with local businesses and institutions. The group is setting a new standard for grassroots activities. In addition to reducing leaf blower use, it encourages residents and businesses to use manual tools whenever possible and to ask their landscapers to do the same. Their work is moving Sonoma towards a healthier, more sustainable city.
The city of Sonoma has been on the forefront in making progress towards cleaner, quieter maintenance. In February, it passed a ban on gas leaf blower (GLB) use, following closely on the heels of the actions taken by the Sonoma Valley Unified School District which banned their use in November of 2015. The city’s ban has been contested and is up for a ballot vote in November 2016. In the meantime Sonoma CALM continues working on positive solutions.
Recently, some Sonoma CALM members witnessed a man in a wheelchair with an oxygen tank who was forced to endure clouds of dust from a gas leaf blower (GLB) as he wheeled his chair up a ramp to a coffee shop in downtown Sonoma. Because of this, they decided they couldn’t wait for the November vote on the city’s GLB ban. Instead, they hit the streets with a cover letter and a few articles, asking business owners to voluntarily stop using GLBs. They received nearly 100% support.
Sonoma Market Manager Al Minero, when approached, said he would “make it happen” and elaborated, “This falls in line with our new green plan.” Fine Line Art Supplies Owner Zac McCormick said, “It’s good for business.” The manager at Williams-Sonoma said, “We sweep the sidewalk. Chuck swept the sidewalk!” At the hotel MacArthur Place, the manager explained why they do not use leaf blowers by saying, “Why would we want to bother our guests?”
A phone call to the Sonoma Valley Museum of Art was all it took to convince management to stop using GLBs. A Sonoma CALM member, trying to see the museum’s new exhibit through a plate glass window, complained that the dust clouds produced by the maintenance worker using a GLB on bare dirt prevented her from doing so.
A variety of other Sonoma businesses have joined in including Bolt Staffing, Broadway Veterinary Hospital, Sisters Consignment, G’s General Store, GT Designs, Sonoma Old School, EJ 588 Studio, and many more. Three Dog Bakery is even handing out flyers to its clients about the harmful effects GLBs have on pets, and urging them to vote YES in the city’s November ballot to uphold the existing ban. Others are expressing their support with endorsements for Sonoma CALM.
Perhaps more importantly, landscape companies are starting to get on board. Get Reel Lawncare uses manual tools, supplemented with electric battery-powered equipment. George Thompson, owner of Shambhala Gardening, has been doing landscaping for decades without GLBs, including 15 years for retailer, Smith & Hawken, which did not allow them.
Sonoma CALM is creating a directory of businesses and other entities, such as schools and healthcare facilities, that refrain from using GLBs. It will publicize these businesses and organizations on social media, on its web page, and on printed materials going out to Sonoma residents, so people can support them and promote emissions-free, quiet landscaping!
Your community can do the same.