The Mission of Quiet Princeton is to improve the quality of life in our town and to restore and enhance its peaceful, healthy, and harmonious character, by removing and controlling sources of noise and pollution in the environment. Quiet Princeton focuses especially on one of the most invasive and environmentally destructive sources, the leaf blower.
Quiet Princeton was founded in 2016 in Princeton, New Jersey, by a group of local citizens with a common interest in reducing noise disturbance in our town.
March 2023: GAS LEAF BLOWERS ARE NOT ALLOWED TO BE USED in Princeton for the summer: May 16, 2023 through September 30, 2023
We regret that these noisy and polluting machines are still allowed for periods in spring and fall. These periods, ostensibly for “spring/fall cleanup” (longer than we consider necessary) was a compromise during the development of the Princeton leaf blower ordinance.
You can influence matters. Further change requires citizens’ voices: If you are unhappy with the resumption of noise and chemical pollution from gas-powered leaf blowers in spring and fall, please write to all Princeton Council members to express your wish to extend the ban year-round. Copy the whole list below and paste in “To” in your e-mail:
Eve Niedergang <firstname.lastname@example.org>, Mia Sacks <email@example.com>, Michelle Lambros <firstname.lastname@example.org>, David Cohen <email@example.com>, Leticia Fraga <Lfraga@princetonnj.gov>, Leighton Newlin <firstname.lastname@example.org>, Mayor Mark Freda <email@example.com>
Also e-mail the Environmental Commission and Quiet Princeton@verizon.net to express that wish.
VIOLATIONS: You can report illegal use of GLB’s during prohibited periods, so they can be followed up by the Princeton Compliance Officer. Both landscaper company and homeowner are jointly liable. Report to See/Click/Fix, move the map to point to the location of the violation, and add a photo if possible. Alternatively, send an e-mail giving location of violation, name and phone # of the landscaper company and the address of the homeowner, to AccessPrinceton@princetonnj.gov.
This is a very effective step you can take.
October 2021: SEASONAL BAN ON GAS LEAF BLOWERS PASSED IN PRINCETON
Gas Leaf Blowers are prohibited in Princeton in winter and summer months. Permitted between March 15 and May 15, then prohibited May 16 to Sept 30.
On October 25, 2021, after an hour of public comments all of which were in favor, Princeton Council voted unanimously to pass an ordinance to prohibit use of gas-powered leaf blowers in the summer and winter months (in this version, deleted parts of the old ordinance are in square brackets and newly changed parts of the ordinance are underlined.) This is a significant achievement that we can all be proud of. Many people, including at the Princeton Environmental Commission (PEC), Sustainable Princeton (SP), those of us here at Quiet Princeton (QP), and Councilor Eve Niedergang, have worked hard to bring this about. The effort and its wider implications is detailed here, showing the extensive collaboration between SP, QP, the Council, landscapers, and other groups.
We at Quiet Princeton, and others including at the Environmental Commission, Sustainable Princeton, and some members of Council, regard this as a first step. It marks the beginning of a change in the approach to landscaping, which will involve less use of leaf blowers (gas or electric) and more sustainable landscaping practices.
We have made a summary of the major provisions of the Ordinance including the hours and months of permitted usage. In addition, the ordinance also contains a section on upgraded requirements for registration of landscapers. The full ordinance is here. Further details, and the wider impact of ongoing developments at Sustainable Princeton and QP, are here.
December 2022: $21,000 TO AID THE TRANSITION TO ELECTRIC LEAF BLOWERS has been distributed to landscapers.
The benefit from this program is equivalent to 144 vehicles removed from the road (Sustainable Princeton estimate)
Quiet Princeton is proud that we provided Matching Funds of $2,500 for donations to Sustainable Princeton’s Landscaping Transition Fund. This fund is to aid small Princeton landscapers to purchase new electric equipment. QP supporters have contributed even more than the matched amount. QP and its supporters thus contributed over $5,500 of the $21,000 Funds distributed. Our thanks to those generous contributors, nearly half of whom contributed as supporters of Quiet Princeton. Sustainable Princeton reports that these funds went to 24 companies with a total of 156 employees, who serve 708 properties in Princeton.
Sustainable Princeton closed this fund at the end of 2021. Distribution of funds ended in late 2022. Landscapers meeting the requirements applied here for up to $500 to support their purchase of replacement electric-powered equipment.
This site has been updated throughout to incorporate the new ordinance banning gas leaf blowers in summer and winter, with other new information, and additions on the “Resources” page. But it is updated relatively infrequently, so:
• Sign up as a QP Supporter to learn the latest activities via our occasional e-mails: firstname.lastname@example.org (we won’t overload your in-box!)
• Do you use social media? Check out our NextDoor blog at : https://nextdoor.com/g/h3uk01tzk/ It has correspondence with QP supporters, and is a good complement to the information on this website
News: See Seasonal Ban above, and scroll down to see 2020/2021: Major Developments and 2023: Quiet Princeton’s Future Focus
A Beautiful Street is also a Quiet Street
Princeton, New Jersey, is justly renowned for its beauty. An important aspect of its beauty is peacefulness. However, urban noise is an increasing societal problem. In our neighborhoods, the peace is all too often destroyed by the use of powerful leaf blowers. Their noise disturbs scores of people who live a block or several blocks away.
— Homeowners who maintain their own lawns or who are away while their lawn is being serviced, using a leaf blower, may not realize how disturbing the noise and pollution are to other residents.
— As the photo below shows, landscape contractors frequently use more than one leaf blower simultaneously, greatly increasing the noise level.
—When a landscaping contractor moves from one house to another down the street, the noise can persist for hours. An increasing tendency to remove every last leaf in flowerbeds, lawn, and even on the sidewalk and street, prolongs the agony.
— All the while, a leaf blower puts out tens or hundreds of times the pollution of a car. Incredibly, recent measurements by the state of California have found that total lawn equipment emissions equal the total emissions caused by cars! This is a serious matter.
—The EPA finds that 17 million gallons of gasoline are spilled each year when refueling lawn equipment. That is more than the amount spilled by the Exxon Valdez in Alaska.
2020/2021: MAJOR DEVELOPMENTS LEAD TO AN ORDINANCE
The situation in Princeton has changed, and improved, significantly since early 2020. The principal events are as follows: (a more detailed Timeline of Developments is here).
— More people are staying home during the Covid-19 pandemic–adults working, children doing online schooling, and families spending more time outdoors. They become more aware of the disturbance, noise and pollution of gasoline-powered leaf blowers (GLB’s).
— There is increased concern about the particulate pollution created by GLB’s, which damages the lungs and has increases the likelihood of death for those who contract Covid-19. In 2020 Quiet Communities issued a major report detailing these serious health harms. Quiet Princeton presented the findings of this report to town officials.
— There is increasing concern for social justice for landscape workers, who are exposed, day in and day out, to dangerous pollution and deafening noise.
— Years of advocacy by Quiet Princeton to encourage voluntary actions to stop using GLB’s has been of lower impact than was hoped for. We concluded that legislative action was necessary.
— High quality lithium-battery powered electric lawn equipment has become more widely available.
— Local social media have begun to take up the problems of GLB’s. This has brought in an increasingly large number of residents who are asking for more definitive action, many seeking a total ban on GLB’s.
— In 2019 the excellent nonprofit group Sustainable Princeton developed a Climate Action Plan to reduce the impact of the town’s activities on Climate Change. With the encouragement of Quiet Princeton, Princeton’s Climate Action Plan includes goals for the reduction of harmful emissions from gas-powered lawn maintenance equipment (goals 6.2, 6.4 and 6.5, page 38). Sustainable Princeton established GLB’s as one of its significant programs for 2021. It is actively working on multiple aspects of moving to more sustainable landscape practices.
– Following presentations by Quiet Princeton, both the Environmental Commission (PEC) and Princeton Council made “Sustainable Landscaping” a priority for 2021. Sustainable landscaping includes: developing an ordinance to regulate GLB’s; creating steps for a transition from gasoline-powered to battery-electric equipment; and working with landscapers, the municipality, residents, and institutions in the town to make significant changes in their landscaping maintenance practices.
— Sustainable Princeton obtained a grant to work in 2021 with local landscapers – to get their input, assist them in making conversions to electric-powered equipment, and help them adopt more sustainable lawn maintenance practices. Phyllis Teitelbaum of Quiet Princeton is on Sustainable Princeton’s Steering Committee for this project. Eunice Wong of Quiet Princeton is on the Residential Outreach Committee for the project.
— The Princeton Environmental Commission voted unanimously in May 2021 to propose to Princeton Council, with the support of Quiet Princeton, an ordinance for a ban on the use of GLB’s in summer and winter, plus related changes. Councilor Eve Niedergang of Princeton Council developed the ordinance.
— Princeton Council voted unanimously to approve the ordinance on October 25, 2021.
— Meanwhile, the State of California passed a law which will ban the sale of all gas-powered lawn equipment (mowers etc. as well as leaf blowers) from 2024.
— Now, in New Jersey, bills have been introduced in the legislature which aim to support our efforts state-wide. These initial bills will have to be expanded and re-introduced into the 2022 legislative sessions. But they are a harbinger of widening efforts to make changes in landscaping practices.
- A6238 – Directs the NJ Board of Public Utilities to establish rebate program for purchase of electric or battery powered leaf blowers.
- S4273 – Prohibits sale and use of gas-powered leaf blowers in NJ.
Covid-19 attacks the lung tissue of those it infects. The polluting 2-stroke engines of gas-powered leaf blowers generate fine particulates that enter the lungs and that are well documented to cause disease and death. Recent studies have shown that these particulates have a further severe impact on Covid patients: they worsen the morbidity and mortality of Covid patients, as detailed here and here, and in Quiet Communities’ report. For this reason, Quiet Princeton advocates a cessation of use of gas-powered leaf blowers. While all people are affected, landscape workers are particularly exposed.
2023: QUIET PRINCETON’S FUTURE FOCUS
• In 2020 Quiet Princeton began to advocate for more effective and lasting change by means of an ordinance for the town of Princeton to first restrict and then phase out gas-powered leaf blowers. This led to the first step, a seasonal ban of GLB’s, which became law in October 2021.
• Further changes, including movement towards a year-round ban, need to be implemented in parallel with educational programs, working with both landscapers and residents to make a transition to electric equipment and, even better, to change landscaping practices: to leave leaves in place and to avoid blowing dust and harmful particles into the air at all. Sustainable Princeton has developed a groundbreaking program and is leading this effort with its grant.
• “Sustainable Landscaping” is a concept that goes much beyond leaf blowers to changing the whole paradigm of landscaping. A project “Changing the Landscape” by Sustainable Princeton is developing this, working with several local organizations including Quiet Princeton. It is discussed here.
• These actions, taken in combination, will reduce severely harmful particulate and other emissions, reduce exposure of landscape workers to noise and pollution, preserve and improve their jobs and their health, reduce severe noise disturbance and harm to residents, reduce costs to the municipality to collect leaves, and contribute to the goals of Princeton’s Climate Action Plan.
We will continue to promote voluntary change by residents, encouraging them to convert to our recommended “Quiet Landscaping” practices.
Meanwhile, you can take action on your own
• “Quiet Landscaping” on this website offers ways to make your garden and your neighborhood quieter.
• This video presents ideas for how to shift your thinking about leaf blowers and landscaping. It is cued up to start with Tony Lunn’s presentation on this subject (at 1:11:00).
Explore other parts of this website:
Quiet Landscapers lists Princeton area landscapers who will avoid GLB’s.
Resources lists extensive references on all aspects of these issues.
The idea that leafblowers save time – which is the one and only argument for using them – is outrageous, since it implies that the time stolen from the rest of us is worthless.
– Dr. Winifred Rosen
Leaf Blowers in a social context: What is acceptable today?
Social practices that affect the health of others eventually change. Clear examples where a once-“normal” practice is now unacceptable include smoking in public, and dog fouling. This is illustrated HERE. An important aspect is that people need to be helped to realize that there are alternatives available, including electric equipment and improved landscaping techniques.