Established in 2022, Zero-Emission Lawn Care and Snow Removal works to enhance community and environmental health by addressing issues related to climate change and social inequities / injustice.
It may seem like a bit of a leap to connect a company that mows lawns and clears snow to tackling the issues of social inequities and injustice. However, the negative impacts of pollution and climate change that this company set out to address through zero-emission services, have a greater impact on low-income and minority communities.
We know that traditional gas-powered lawn care equipment significantly contributes to pollution and is associated with increases in acute and chronic respiratory illnesses and the spillage of 17-million gallons of gasoline per year (for perspective, the Exxon Valdez spill was just under 11-million gallons). In addition to the obvious hearing damage that can occur, there are mental and emotional impacts associated with noise pollution, and in severe cases can cause chronic physical conditions. We know that these health issues are more prevalent among minority and low-income communities. We also know that we live in a city, a community, that has been listed as the 5th worst place for African Americans to live according to the 2021 24/7 Wall Street article that provides this annual statistics. How extremely troubling this is for any citizen of Peoria! We must do better! My hope is that this company, individually and through various public and private partnerships, can make a positive impact on the health and prosperity of Peoria and beyond.
We do this by providing four main services: lawn and landscape maintenance, as well as snow removal, are the two most straightforward services and are performed using battery-powered machines and tools as opposed to gas-powered. These machines/tools are transported to job sites by electric vehicles. Importantly, all batteries are charged by solar*. The third service is turf/plant health diagnostics. With my doctorate in Plant Health and Master's in turfgrass entomology, I am uniquely qualified to make turf/plant stress management recommendations based on a holistic systems approach - making this novel lawn care company information-intensive rather than input-intensive. The final service is eco-friendly landscape design. I will work with experts such as Master Gardeners, Master Naturalists, and research and extension personnel in the field of climate-smart landscaping to transform clients’ lawns into a beautiful landscape rich in ecosystem services.
Community and social justice are just as important for this business as improving environmental health. Staff represent the historically oppressed and underrepresented, and receive a proper living wage and opportunities for continued education and advancement. A substantial proportion of profits go to communities most affected by climate change and social injustice. Services will be provided for free to select low-income people with respiratory issues, sensitivity to noise, and/or those who cannot physically keep up with yard care. We will partner with local private and public entities with similar visions to create synergies that will catalyze the positive social and environmental change I see happening. We will also pay an annual voluntary land tax to Native Nations/organizations in the area to acknowledge that we are operating on stolen land. Finally, we will participate in relevant research aimed at understanding the economic, environmental, and social impacts of our work.
*On July 3, 2023, solar panels will be installed at our home where the batteries for tools, equipment, and vehicles are charged.