In Princeton, New Jersey, a group of residents who would like less noise in their neighborhoods has taken a softer approach than most such groups. Where organizations in other communities have lobbied for decibel restrictions, time restrictions and out-and-out bans on leaf blower use, Quiet Princeton is focused on a strategy they call ‘win-win.’ They’re asking local homeowners to either do the work themselves, or hire landscape companies that are willing to work without leaf blowers.
In order to pave the way for Princeton property owners, the group has contacted 40 area landscape companies, and found that 11 of them were willing to maintain a property without blowers, if asked. The owner of one such company, Robert Solano, explained why the number was so low. “The biggest problem is that it would easily triple the cost, due to extensive manual labor and the amount of people needed to do it,” he said. “I have had a couple of calls, but when you explain to them the amount of labor and cost, it doesn’t go anywhere.”
Quiet Princeton has been recommending that property owners may find the cost more reasonable if they don’t ask for a perfectly manicured lawn. “With a contractor, you might be able to agree on a more moderate amount of work than it would take to remove all the clippings,” said founding member Phyllis Teitelbaum. “That way you can negotiate a price that you’re comfortable with. It might even end up being less than you’re paying now.”
Property owners concerned about the noise of leaf blowers are also more likely to be concerned about their effects on the environment, and on human health. For them, a service that not only cuts out particulate matter and noise, but mulches grass clippings for natural fertilizer, is a real win-win. A success for the model that Quiet Princeton espouses could set an example for communities with similar issues.