We have a push reel lawn mower that consists of a blade that spins to cut the grass as the wheels turn, fueled by the combustion of hamburgers and beer; that is, you just push it. It has no motor. It requires a little more exertion than a typical lawn mower, but is pretty easy as long as I don't let the lawn get too long, (in which case it is best to nearly run while mowing in order to keep the wheels from getting stuck; mowmentum!) We do not have a weed eater and haven't really found a good solution for that one. We haven't had good luck with the electrical types in the past.
Although lawn mowers and weed whackers may seem like insignificant sources of pollution, according to Doreen Cubie in a 2007 article entitled How to Mow Down Pollution, these small engined lawn maintenance tools account for five percent of America's air pollution for the months they are in use. These engines are apparently super-spewers of carbon monoxide, hydrocarbons, and other equally scary sounding chemistry words that should be trapped in liquid or solid form underground and not inhaled in their invisible gaseous disguise. Having done a little ebsco search of the primary literature, Ms. Cubie's claims seem to be supported.
Mowing the lawn with the manual mower is yet another thing that I do that earns me those odd looks. Sometimes I feel like I am actually scaring people by making them so uncomfortably uncertain that they want to turn and run. Though I appreciate the neighbor's offer to use his mower, I prefer to use the one I have. Just as I have a car and a licence but choose to ride my bike, I could use a motorized mower but prefer the impact free and noiseless qualities of my push reel. Also analogous to my bike commute, I am getting more exercise when I mow with the manual.
It is shocking to me the number of people that remain completely baffled that I choose to my ride my bike or mow with a push reel even after I explain my reasoning, or that it is simply my personal preference. I have been told that my husband should give me a ride if I don't want to drive, as if he is less of a man by allowing me to brave the night streets with only the power of my two legs. Though I am such a poor, fragile, feminine creature, I am relieved that it would never occur to Brenton to have a separate standard for my girlish existence than he does for his own. On the other hand, as I glance out the window at my weed carpet, I'm thinking that a lady shouldn't have to scoop poop!