We surveyed 1172 people who live in the USA or Canada to find out exactly what they think about proposed or existing small gas engine bans. We asked them 10 thought-provoking questions to paint a detailed picture of potential responses to such bans.
As we previously shared, there are now many states or cities that have bans on small off-road engines (“SOREs”). Some are current and others are to be introduced in the near future. This will affect the sale and use of chainsaws, leaf blowers, lawnmowers, brush cutters, line trimmers, pole saws, generators, log splitters, stump grinders, and numerous other types of gas-powered engine equipment.
California is a well-known case. From 2024 the sale of NEW small gas engine equipment will be prohibited. Used and second-hand products can still be bought and sold, but there will be no sales of new equipment. Since January 2022, Washington DC has banned gas-powered leaf blowers outright. There are $500 fines for anyone caught using them. Other such bans are being implemented or considered in Denver, New York State, Vancouver, and many other states, cities, or districts.
This is what the public thinks about Small Off-Road Engine bans.
Key Takeaways From The Survey
- Almost 1 in 3 respondents are not concerned about the environmental impact of small gas engines.
- 29.5% of participants strongly oppose small gas engine bans in their city or state.
- Nearly 1 in 3 respondents don’t view reducing noise and air pollution from small gas engines as important.
- Reduced noise pollution is seen as the most significant benefit of a small gas engine ban, with nearly 50% of responses.
- More than 1 in 3 participants are likely or highly likely to hire eco-friendly lawn care or landscaping companies.
- Over 50% of respondents are unwilling or highly unwilling to pay more for services transitioning to greener equipment.
- Only about 1 in 5 Americans and Canadians deem government support for the transition away from small gas engines as unnecessary.
- 6 in 10 respondents are open to participating in local or state incentive programs for equipment transition.
- A remarkable 79.2% would consider buying additional gas-powered equipment if a ban were announced.
- In the event of a ban, 46% of respondents would consider buying used gas-powered equipment.
- Strong opposition to the ban is largely driven by those unconcerned about the environmental impact of small gas engines.
- The willingness to pay more for services is directly proportional to the importance attached to reducing noise and air pollution.
- The level of concern about the environmental impact influences the choice of equipment in the event of a ban.
- Support for the ban aligns closely with the willingness to pay more for transitioning to greener equipment.
- Despite opposition, a significant number of respondents are open to switching to battery-powered or electric equipment.
You can download our infographic to share here (please link to this page)
About This Survey
This is what we shared with participants before they took the survey.
Cities and states across the US and Canada are considering bans on small gas engines, affecting lawnmowers, chainsaws, leaf blowers, and other outdoor equipment. These bans aim to reduce pollution and noise but may impact businesses and individuals relying on this equipment.
We are conducting a short, anonymous survey to understand the potential impact of such bans on people in North America. Your input may be considered in informing policy decisions and support programs.
If you are based in the US/Canada and are over 18 years of age, please take a few minutes to complete the survey and help us ensure all affected voices are heard. Thank you for your participation!
These are the 10 questions we asked:
- How concerned are you about the environmental impact of small gas engines?
- Do you support the implementation of small gas engine bans in your city or state?
- How important do you think it is for cities and states to prioritize reducing noise and air pollution from small gas engines?
- What do you think would be the most significant benefit of implementing small gas engine bans in your city or state?
- Would you be more likely to hire a lawn care or landscaping company that exclusively uses environmentally friendly, electric, or battery-powered equipment?
- Are you willing to pay more for landscaping and lawn care services if businesses have to transition to electric or battery-powered equipment due to a small gas engine ban?
- In your opinion, should government incentives or support programs be provided to help individuals transition away from small gas engines?
- Would you be willing to participate in local or state-sponsored incentive programs for transitioning to alternative equipment?
- If a small gas engine ban were announced to take effect in the future, would you purchase additional gas-powered equipment before the ban is enacted?
- If a small gas engine ban were implemented, what type of equipment would you consider for future purchases?
And at the end of the survey we had an optional box for any further comments. We have published the survey comments separately as there were over 500 of them, and highly recommend taking a look at them. You can also read hundreds of further comments and conversations in our Facebook Post which invited people to take the survey.
We received 1172 completed surveys. Respondents were 18+ from the USA and Canada, both male and female. Respondents came through Facebook Ads targeting a broad spectrum of people and the post was picked up by Google Discover which brought thousands of visitors to the survey.
Here are results of each question alone, followed by cross tabulated data through which we were able to draw greater insights.
Survey Question 1 Results
It seems that public concern about the environmental impact of small gas engines varies widely. Here is a brief analysis of the data:
- “Slightly concerned”: This is the most common response, with 29% of respondents falling into this category. These respondents acknowledge that there’s an environmental impact, but it’s not a top concern for them.
- “Not concerned”: This response makes up 28.4% of the total, suggesting that a significant portion of respondents are not worried about the environmental impact of small gas engines. They may not perceive the environmental harm to be significant, or they might prioritize other issues.
- “Moderately concerned”: This group represents 26.7% of respondents. These individuals have a noticeable level of concern and could potentially be interested in solutions that reduce the environmental impact of small gas engines.
- “Very concerned”: Making up 15.9% of respondents, these individuals are highly aware of and concerned about the environmental impact of small gas engines. This group is likely highly supportive of initiatives to mitigate these impacts.
In conclusion, while there’s substantial concern about the environmental impact of small gas engines, almost a third of respondents are not concerned. This diverse feedback underlines the necessity for balanced discussion about the environmental impacts of small gas engines and for considering various viewpoints when proposing policy or regulatory changes.
Survey Question 2 Results
- The plurality of respondents (35.1%) showed support for a potential small gas engine ban, but it’s crucial to note that the majority (49.1%) either oppose or strongly oppose this notion. This demonstrates the substantial existing sentiment against such bans.
- The segment that ‘strongly opposes’ a ban is nearly twice the size of the one that ‘strongly supports’ it, which may indicate stronger emotions or more concrete beliefs among those opposed. These strong convictions could make implementing bans more challenging and could contribute to backlash or resistance.
- This division among respondents suggests a varied public perception and could signal difficulties for policy changes that don’t address the concerns of both sides.
The data indicates that policymakers must take a measured approach. They should focus on communication efforts that accurately present the potential benefits and drawbacks of such a ban, fostering an informed debate about the issue. Furthermore, the data suggest that regulatory bodies should also consider potential alternatives to outright bans or, if bans are implemented, consider offering support to those affected.
Survey Question 3 Results
- The question regarding the importance for cities and states to prioritize reducing noise and air pollution from small gas engines generated a broad spectrum of responses. Approximately 31.1% of respondents felt that it is somewhat important, suggesting a level of concern about noise and air pollution, albeit not an overriding one.
- Interestingly, almost a third of the participants, 29.3%, felt that reducing pollution from small gas engines is not important. This might suggest either a lack of awareness about the impact of small gas engines on environmental and noise pollution, or perhaps a perception that other issues should take precedence.
- A combined total of 39.6% of respondents – those who selected “important” and “very important” – clearly indicate a significant group who consider this issue to be a priority. It could be surmised that these respondents may be more open to potential regulations or changes regarding small gas engines, and may be important advocates for such measures.
While there is a substantial portion of the respondents who consider reducing noise and air pollution from small gas engines to be important, there is a considerable segment of the population who do not see this as a significant issue. This disparity indicates that further public dialogue and education may be necessary to increase awareness and consensus regarding this issue.
Survey Question 4 Results
- Nearly half of the respondents (47.7%) believe that the most significant benefit of implementing small gas engine bans would be reduced noise pollution. This suggests that noise is a major concern for many individuals when it comes to these engines. A response to this might be focusing on innovations and regulations that require quieter gas engines, rather than a total ban.
- Around a quarter of respondents (26.8%) view the encouragement of greener technology as a significant benefit. This indicates a level of public interest in technological advancement and innovation within the industry. Instead of implementing a ban, offering incentives for the development and use of greener technologies may be a more accepted solution.
- Fewer respondents view improved air quality (19.5%) and health benefits for residents (6%) as the most significant benefits. While these are notable issues, they seem to be less of a priority for most respondents in this context. Emphasizing these benefits might not be as persuasive to the general public when arguing for a ban.
Overall, these responses suggest that a majority of individuals recognize the potential benefits of banning small gas engines, but they may also be receptive to solutions that mitigate the identified issues (noise pollution, lack of green technology) without resorting to a full ban.
Survey Question 5 Results
- The largest group of respondents (38.6%) said they would be likely to hire a lawn care or landscaping company that exclusively uses environmentally friendly, electric, or battery-powered equipment. This indicates an inclination towards supporting environmentally friendly businesses, which might be due to a variety of reasons such as personal environmental concerns, perceived quality of service, or societal pressure.
- However, a substantial number of respondents also indicated they would be unlikely (17.7%) or highly unlikely (22.4%) to hire such a company. This could be due to factors such as a perceived increase in cost, doubts about the effectiveness or reliability of electric or battery-powered equipment, or a lack of concern about the environmental impact of small gas engines.
- Interestingly, a significant proportion of respondents (21.4%) said they would be highly likely to hire an environmentally friendly landscaping company. This shows that there is a subset of the population who are very enthusiastic about such a change.
In summary, while there seems to be a general lean towards environmentally friendly lawn care and landscaping options, a considerable number of people still prefer traditional methods. This may suggest that instead of a ban, an approach that involves educating the public about the efficiency and reliability of electric or battery-powered equipment, while also ensuring these options are affordable, could be more effective.
Survey Question 6 Results
- The willingness to pay more for landscaping and lawn care services if businesses transition to electric or battery-powered equipment is fairly distributed among the respondents. This suggests that people have diverse opinions on the subject, potentially influenced by their personal financial circumstances, environmental concerns, and value placed on quieter or cleaner landscaping methods.
- The largest group of respondents (36%) indicated a willingness to pay more. However, it’s important to note that a considerable proportion (25.8%) of respondents expressed a high unwillingness to pay more for such services, demonstrating a potential resistance to price increases that might result from a gas engine ban.
- Equal percentages of respondents (19.1% each) indicated either a high willingness to pay more or an unwillingness to pay more. This signifies a significant polarization in opinions, indicating strong feelings about the issue on both sides.
Given these findings, rather than outright bans on small gas engines, it might be beneficial to explore solutions that manage the environmental impact while considering the cost concerns of consumers. Incentives or subsidies for businesses transitioning to greener technologies could help alleviate potential price increases and therefore increase public support for such changes.
Survey Question 7 Results
- A notable proportion of respondents (33.4%) considered government incentives or support programs to be helpful, but not essential for transitioning away from small gas engines. This shows an appreciation for such initiatives but indicates that they may not view it as a critical factor in their decision-making process.
- The second-largest group (28.2%) believed that these programs are essential, signifying a reliance on governmental support for the adoption of newer, environmentally friendly technologies. This group could include individuals who may find it financially challenging to switch to newer technologies without assistance.
- Approximately 22% considered these programs unnecessary, reflecting a sentiment that the transition could be made without government intervention. This viewpoint could be based on a belief in market-driven solutions, or it might reflect a preference for less governmental involvement in private decisions.
- The smallest group (16.4%) deemed such programs not very helpful, suggesting they may not believe government programs would effectively facilitate the transition.
Given the mixed opinions, it may be beneficial for policymakers to consider a balanced approach, perhaps providing incentives or support for those who need it while allowing the free market to operate for those who prefer less governmental intervention. Such an approach may satisfy both those who deem such programs essential and those who view them as unnecessary.
Survey Question 8 Results
- The highest proportion of respondents (38%) indicated they would be willing to participate in local or state-sponsored incentive programs for transitioning to alternative equipment. This group of individuals might see the benefit in such programs, but their willingness might depend on the details of the incentives offered.
- Approximately 20.8% of respondents expressed unwillingness to participate in these incentive programs. These individuals might perceive these programs as unnecessary or burdensome, or they might be satisfied with their current equipment.
- A similar proportion of participants (20.7%) were highly unwilling to take part in such programs. This group seems to have a more decisive stance against these programs, possibly due to a strong preference for gas engines, skepticism about the benefits of alternatives, or resistance to perceived government interference in personal choices.
- Lastly, 20.5% of respondents were highly willing to participate in these programs. This group likely views these programs as beneficial and are enthusiastic about the possibility of transitioning to alternative equipment.
Given the variety of views expressed, it’s clear that one-size-fits-all policy or program may not be effective. Policymakers may need to consider varied approaches and clearly communicate the benefits and details of these incentive programs to encourage participation among different groups.
Survey Question 9 Results
- The results suggest that a substantial number of respondents, around 79.2%, would likely or definitely procure additional gas-powered equipment if a small engine ban was anticipated. This suggests a strong reliance on and preference for gas engines, indicating their value in terms of performance, reliability, and perhaps affordability.
- It is evident from these findings that a ban on small gas engines may not be the optimal approach to addressing environmental concerns. A significant percentage of respondents are more inclined to secure their use of gas-powered equipment rather than transitioning to alternatives.
- It is important to highlight that only a small fraction of respondents, approximately 20.8%, said they would likely not or definitely not purchase more gas-powered equipment if a ban were imposed. This further demonstrates the preference for gas engines and potentially suggests a resistance to forced change in equipment use.
From this perspective, it seems that a substantial portion of the public has a strong preference for gas-powered equipment. Imposing a ban might result in counterproductive behavior, such as hoarding or panic buying of gas-powered equipment, thereby inadvertently prolonging their use. Instead of focusing solely on bans, it might be worth exploring why there is such a preference for gas engines and addressing those concerns in any environmental policies. While there are valid environmental concerns around small gas engines, this data suggests that any attempt to transition away from them needs to take into account public opinion and the real-world usage and benefits of these engines.
Survey Question 10 Results
- Nearly half of the respondents, about 46%, indicated they would consider purchasing used gas-powered equipment if a small gas engine ban were implemented. This again reflects the considerable preference for gas engines and the potential resilience of this market even in the face of bans.
- The data also suggests that restrictions on new gas-powered equipment might lead to an unintended secondary market for used gas-powered equipment, maintaining the prevalence of these engines in the long term.
- While 34.8% of respondents said they would consider switching to battery-powered or electric equipment, this remains a minority. This suggests that, while there is interest in these alternatives, it may not be strong enough to completely offset the preference for gas engines.
- Nearly one fifth of respondents (19.2%) expressed a desire for a mixed approach, signaling that complete reliance on one type of technology may not meet all the needs and preferences of users.
In conclusion, a small gas engine ban might not automatically lead to the desired shift towards cleaner technologies. Instead, it may contribute to the emergence of a significant market for used gas-powered equipment. This highlights the importance of understanding user preferences, needs, and behavior when considering policy changes in this area. The data also indicates that a diverse range of options and solutions may be needed to fully address this issue.
Cross Tabulation Of Data
Q1 vs Q2
Q1. How concerned are you about the environmental impact of small gas engines? Vs. Q2 Do you support the implementation of small gas engine bans in your city or state?
Here are some insights from the table:
- A large proportion of those who are “Not concerned” about the environmental impact strongly oppose the small gas engine bans (270 out of 333).
- A sizable portion of respondents who are “Moderately concerned” or “Slightly concerned” support the bans (180 out of 313 for the moderately concerned, 161 out of 340 for the slightly concerned).
- Among those who are “Very concerned”, there is strong support for the bans (92 out of 186).
This analysis suggests that there is a connection between the level of concern about the environmental impact of small gas engines and the degree of support for small gas engine bans. This is expected, but the exact numbers can help quantify this connection and provide a basis for future decision making or research.
Q3 vs Q6
Q3. How important do you think it is for cities and states to prioritize reducing noise and air pollution from small gas engines? Vs. Q6. Are you willing to pay more for landscaping and lawn care services if businesses have to transition to electric or battery-powered equipment due to a small gas engine ban?
This table provides a cross-tabulation of the importance respondents assign to reducing noise and air pollution against their willingness to pay more for environmentally friendly services.
- A notable majority of respondents (237 out of 343) who don’t find reducing noise and air pollution important are highly unwilling to pay more for environmentally friendly services. This correlation suggests that they either don’t see the value in such services or aren’t financially able to pay more.
- Interestingly, as the importance assigned to reducing noise and air pollution increases, there’s a clear trend towards greater willingness to pay for environmentally friendly services. For instance, most respondents who deem noise and air pollution reduction ‘Very important’ (93 out of 149) are highly willing to pay more for green services.
- However, there’s a noticeable group (74 out of 315) that considers noise and air pollution reduction important but is unwilling to pay more for environmentally friendly services. They could represent a segment of the population that supports environmental causes but may not be able to afford higher costs.
Overall, the data suggest a positive correlation between the importance of reducing noise and air pollution and the willingness to pay more for environmentally friendly services. This information can help businesses understand the priorities of their customers and adjust their offerings accordingly. But they should also be aware that not everyone who supports environmentally friendly practices is willing or able to pay more for such services.
Q1 vs Q10
Q1. How concerned are you about the environmental impact of small gas engines? Vs. Q10. If a small gas engine ban were implemented, what type of equipment would you consider for future purchases?
- Minimal interest in battery-powered/electric equipment: Among respondents who are not concerned about the environmental impact of small gas engines, only 11% show an inclination towards battery-powered/electric equipment for future purchases. This suggests a lack of enthusiasm or perceived need for eco-friendly alternatives in this group.
- Strong preference for used gas-powered equipment: Across all levels of concern about environmental impact, there is a consistent preference for used gas-powered equipment. It is the most favored option among respondents, constituting 46% of their future purchase considerations. This indicates a strong attachment to traditional gas engines and a resistance to switching to alternative options.
- Limited appeal for both gas and battery/electric equipment: The option of having a combination of gas and battery/electric equipment garners relatively less interest across the board, with only 19% of respondents considering it for future purchases. This indicates that the appeal of a hybrid approach is not widely embraced, further reinforcing the preference for gas engines.
These condensed insights highlight the prevailing preference for used gas-powered equipment, the limited interest in battery-powered/electric alternatives, and the lack of appeal for a combination of gas and battery/electric equipment. They provide a concise perspective on the resistance to small gas engine bans and the enduring popularity of gas engines among respondents, emphasizing their preference for the status quo.
Q2 vs Q6
Q2. Do you support the implementation of small gas engine bans in your city or state? Vs. Q6. Are you willing to pay more for landscaping and lawn care services if businesses have to transition to electric or battery-powered equipment due to a small gas engine ban?
From the cross-tabulation of willingness to pay more for landscaping services and support for small gas engine bans, the following insights can be derived:
- Alignment between support for bans and willingness to pay more: Among those who strongly support the implementation of small gas engine bans, a significant portion (114 respondents) express a high willingness to pay more for landscaping services if businesses transition to electric or battery-powered equipment. This suggests a strong correlation between support for bans and a willingness to invest in environmentally friendly alternatives.
- Varying attitudes among different support groups: While the majority of respondents who strongly oppose or oppose bans indicate a high unwillingness to pay more, there are some individuals in these groups who express a willingness to pay more (e.g., 29 respondents in the oppose category). This indicates a diversity of opinions within these groups, with some individuals potentially recognizing the value of supporting the transition to greener equipment despite their opposition to bans.
- Reluctance among those who are highly unwilling: A significant number of respondents who are highly unwilling to pay more (302 respondents) are distributed across all support categories. This suggests a general reluctance among a segment of the survey participants to bear additional costs, regardless of their stance on small gas engine bans.
These insights highlight the complex relationship between support for bans and willingness to pay more for environmentally friendly services. It indicates that while support for bans generally aligns with a higher willingness to pay more, there are nuances within each support category that require further analysis to better understand the underlying factors influencing these attitudes.
- A considerable number of respondents, 80.1% of those ‘Strongly oppose’ and 45.7% of those ‘Oppose’, are highly unwilling or unwilling to pay more for landscaping and lawn care services if businesses have to transition to electric or battery-powered equipment due to a small gas engine ban. This shows that a significant segment of the population has cost-related concerns regarding the transition.
- Among those who ‘Strongly oppose’ small gas engine bans, a significant 67.6% would consider buying used gas-powered equipment if a ban were implemented, indicating a potential for a secondary market for used gas-powered equipment among those opposed to the bans.
- 24.7% of the ‘Oppose’ group would also consider ‘Battery-powered/Electric equipment’ despite their opposition to the bans, suggesting a willingness to adapt despite disagreeing with the bans.
- The majority of respondents who are ‘Not concerned’ about the environmental impact of small gas engines (66.7%) and thus likely against bans, would consider buying ‘Used gas-powered equipment’ if a ban were implemented. This further supports the potential rise of a secondary market for used gas-powered equipment.
- Over half of the respondents (57.3%) who find it ‘Not important’ for cities and states to prioritize reducing noise and air pollution from small gas engines are highly unwilling to pay more for services if a ban was imposed, reinforcing the idea that those opposed to the bans have strong cost considerations.
- A large portion of those who ‘Strongly oppose’ (79.8%) small gas engine bans would consider purchasing additional gas-powered equipment before a ban takes effect, potentially leading to stockpiling behavior.
- For those who are ‘Not concerned’ about the environmental impact of small gas engines, a majority (81%) strongly oppose small gas engine bans. This suggests that for many, the lack of environmental concern drives opposition to the bans.
- Among the respondents who oppose or strongly oppose the bans (48.1% and 20.2% respectively), the majority would consider using used gas-powered equipment if a ban was implemented, reinforcing the potential secondary market theory.
- Only a small fraction of those who ‘Strongly oppose’ small gas engine bans (2.3%) are highly willing to pay more for landscaping and lawn care services if businesses have to transition to electric or battery-powered equipment due to a small gas engine ban. This low figure indicates a strong resistance to absorbing any potential increased costs due to the transition.
- The respondents who believe that reducing noise and air pollution from small gas engines is ‘Not important’ have a high tendency to be unwilling to pay more for services if a ban was imposed (69%). This illustrates a strong correlation between indifference towards environmental impacts of these engines and resistance to potential price increases.
Small Off Road Engine Bans
And lastly, to reiterate one of the most stunning numbers from the study:
More than 3 in 4 Americans, an astounding 79.2%, might purchase additional gas-powered equipment before a potential ban comes into effect, highlighting strong consumer preference for these tools.
Personally, my overall impression after reading almost 1000 comments and analyzing the survey data is that those who are opposed to potential small off road engine bans are more passionately against them than those who are for them are passionate for them.
I recommend again that you read some of the survey comments to get a feel for how the loudest proportion of our survey respondents feel. Surprisingly, 95% of the comments were left by those who are strongly opposed to small engine bans, and very few were left by those who support them.
Leave a comment down below with your thoughts on this study or contact us here. Next up, check out this 2011 gas leaf blower study that claims using a gas leaf blower for one hour is more polluting than driving 16 hours in a pickup truck!