Monthly Archives: January 2009

New Brill Reel Lawn Mowers for 2009

New: 2009 Season Reel Mowers from Brill:
The new mowing season is almost upon us (tho it sure is frozen here now!). Today I’ll discuss the Brill line of reel mowers we will be offering in 2009. End of last year saw the Luxus reel mowers replaced with the Razorcut models. Here’s more…

The Smallest Brill Reel Mower:
The smallest mower Brill makes it the Razorcut 33 reel mower. The cutting blade is 33 cm wide which is 13″.  This  reel mower is best for lawns of 2000 sq’ or less. It can be easily stored and hung on a hook. A grass catcher is an option. Great mower for condos and small lawns…it is incredibly light at 15 pounds…everyone can push this (including my grandmother)!

The Most Popular Reel Mower:
The next model is Europe’s #1 selling reel mower, made in Germany, the Brill Razorcut 38. The cutting blade is 38 cm / 15″ wide. This reel mower will handle jobs of 10,000 sq’ or less. The Razorcut 38 can certainly do more but we have found the person mowing often tires when mowing more than 10,000 sq’. A grass catcher is an option for the 38.

Mow your lawn when you are ready…9 am or 9 pm. The Brill Razor is so silent your neighbors can enjoy their activities in peace and you can even talk on your cell phone! Your children can play safely along side a reel mower: there are no flying objects or toxic fumes. Mowing your lawn with reel mowers is better for the air, better for the grass, and better for you.

Want to know specific differences between push mower models and manufacturers …check out our Push Mower Comparison Chart and our Brill/Sunlawn Comparison Chart. Already sold on a reel mower, you probably want to read our guide to transitioning your lawn. And remember, we have a 30 day trial period.

NEW BRILL ACCU ELECTRIC REEL MOWER:  BOTH an Electric and Manual Reel Mower:

brill electric mower

Lastly, Brill offers the unique electric reel mower: Accu Razorcut. The Razorcut is a battery powered version of the Razorcut 38. The Accu battery is inserted into the mower and taken out to charge. This means more than one battery can be purchased for larger jobs. One battery will power the mower for about 35 minutes. The Brill Accu Razorcut is the quietest electric mower made today.

One highlight of the Accu Razorcut is that it can be used as a manual mower as well. So if you have a little bit more to do to complete the lawn, you can just use it like a Razorcut 38. As with the other two Brill reel mowers, a grass catcher is an option for the Accu Razorcut electric reel mower.


Related Info:

The Sno Wovel and the Back

Another big storm. The northeast just got hit with another large storm. All schools in the area were closed for the day. This is shaping up to be a record winter in terms of snow fall. This storm delivered 8″ of snow before the snow turned to rain.

Sno Wovel receives two workouts. I used the Sno Wovel twice. Once to clear 6″ of snow and again to clear 2″ of snow and about an hour’s worth of rain. Clearing the snow went as usual, a nice walk around the driveway. Clearing the very wet snow was interesting.

Snow piled high. Because we’ve had so much snow, piling it up  had become a challenge. Some had melted since our last storm so I was able to find room. When I began clearing the wet snow, I found that because it was so heavy it just compacted the lighter snow beneath it. This made the job actually easier. I  had no trouble finding room, with the Sno Wovel all I had to do was drop or toss the wet snow onto the lighter snow.

Back feels fine. But the biggest advantage is that my back feels fresh. I have no side affects from using the Sno Wovel two times, once with very heavy wet snow. It is amazing to me that when you use this snow removal tool how the work load is taken up evenly by your entire body.

The Snow Wovel is great for your back!

Gotta Have! Fully Compostable Dinnerware and Kitchenware

We are pleased to be adding Vegware to our products. Vegware uses technology to make fully compostable cutlery and tableware. Their longterm goal is to make a difference in how waste is managed and processed. You can eat and drink and then compost.

Styrofoam cups, and disposable tableware and cutlery. Currently huge volumes of paper plates, trays, and styrofoam cups make their way to our landfills. The U.S. Department of the Environment estimates 50 billion styrofoam cups were put in landfills last year. An equal number of disposable tableware and cutlery were thrown in the landfills as well. All of this could be used in compost making in the future.

The Vegware Way. Vegware’s fiber based products present saner ecological and economic options that could have a significant impact in reducing the amount of waste generated from disposable tableware and cutlery products. Vegware is made from sugarcane, potatoes, and corn. It is fully biodegradable and ready to compost.

Presently. North American consumers are ordering take-out meals in record numbers. U.S. government statistics show American families spend $3,360 a year to avoid cooking at home. Currently, an estimated 39 billion items of disposable cutlery make their way to American landfills yearly (source: The Food Packaging Institute, Washington, D.C.). Unlike traditional cutlery, Vegware products are designed to breakdown naturally, eliminating unnecessary waste.

Ways to compost. Vegware can be put into a compost pile or for better composting, crush the Vegware into smaller pieces before composting. The plates, bowls, forks, and spoons can all be composted. We’ll be adding more information as we get to know this product better.

Knives, forks and spoons made
from corn and potato starch,
biodegradable and compostable.

Plates and bowls made from bagasse,
a fibre created from the pressing of
sugar cane. Sturdy, eco-friendly,
compostable and biodegradable

the hot drink cup revolution,
compostable hot-drink cup
and lid combination, completely
biodegradable and suitable for composting.

Hinged boxes made from bagasse,
a fibre created from the pressing
of sugar cane. Sturdy, eco-friendly,
compostable and biodegradable

5 Minute Adjustment keeps Your Reel Mower Blades Perfect

First, this is for new generation reel mowers only:
The Brill and Sunlawn line of reel lawnmowers have a non-contact cutting system. This means the reel blades stay sharp and you will save money and time on sharpening services. Older generation reel mowers require frequent blade sharpening because  the reel blades make contact with the bedknife. Brill and Sunlawn engineered the reel mower so the blades miss the bedknife by .05mm, thus the blades cut better and last longer. However, there is a yearly adjustment that you need to do to keep the reel blade working great.

The Brill and Sunlawn reel lawnmowers blades stay sharp up to 8 years. Older generation reel mowers need frequent sharpening. In fact, when you calculate how much money is saved by less sharpening of the blades, the Brill and Sunlawn’s cost  less than the older generation mowers. You can see all old and new generation reel mowers in this chart.

This is the simple little guage:


guage for new generation reel mowers (Brill and Sunlawn)

The Brill reel mowers and the Sunlawn reel mowers come with a gauge taped to the manual (and it’s easy to miss). Don’t be like our web designer who threw hers away. Keep it. It is a thin piece of metal and is used to adjust the gap between the bedknife and the spinning reel blades on your reel mowers. If you loose it, you can get a replacement one here.

Once a year adjustment

When your Brill or sunlawn reel mower arrives the blades have been set perfectly by the factory. The second year, you’ll notice the mower is not cutting as well as when it was new. Just turn your mower over and you’ll see two bolts on either side of the mower which have an octagonal head. Take a 10mm wrench loosen both bolts…turning clock wise about a 1/4 of a turn. Take the gauge and place it between the bedknife and the reel blade at one side of the mower. The blades should just pinch the gauge. Check the other side as well to make sure the blades just pinch the gauge. Here are some pictures of this process on our site.

OK, where’d I put it?
Put your gauge in a safe place as you’ll be using it again. I tape it to my manual. And you can order replacement reel mower guages here.


Related Info:

Stop! Opt Out of Getting Telephone Books

phone books cannot go into your recycling stream

phone books cannot go into your recycling stream

When was the last time you used a printed telephone book to look up a phone number? In fact, with cell phones, how many phone numbers are actually in telephone books these days anyway? Directory publishers usually do make their listings available online, but the printed books are big money-makers for them as print ads fetch gazillions, even though their effectiveness is waning and much harder to track. It’s time for telephone book companies to face the fact that their products are becoming obsolete to many and should only be delivered if someone wants them. The Yellow and White Page industry have failed to understand the social, economic, and political green movement across the country…so let’s help them!

picture-93Most individual yellow and white page publishers have “no deliver” lists they can add you to, but they will not be held accountable if the books show up anyway. The website will find your local/regional directory pages publishers and ask them not to deliver on your behalf. The site warns, though, that there are no guarantees with this either. So go right now and add your name, pledge your support, and we can make a change! is helping municipalities and local governments around the country establish ordinances to mandate Yellow Pages and White Pages only be delivered to home and offices that ask for them. Municipalities and local government that provide trash services are extremely concerned about the landfill cost and why they have to absorb the cost of handling the telephone directories.


  • 19 million trees, 7.2 billion barrels of oil, …:
    According to more than 500 million phone directories — nearly two books for every American – are printed and distributed every year in the U.S.. To produce 500 million telephone books it takes:

    • 19 million trees need to be harvested
    • 1.6 billion pounds of paper are wasted
    • 7.2 million barrels of oil are misspent in their processing (not including the wasted gas used for their delivery to your doorstep)
    • 268,000 cubic yards of landfill are taken up
    • 3.2 billion kilowatt hours of electricity are squandered
    • which then generates 268,000 cubic yards of solid waste (not including the books themselves, many of which eventually end up in landfills in areas where recycling is not available or convenient
  • Only 10% of phone books are recycled:
    No specific data is available but a random sample from this site shows people are recycling these books at a rate of less than 10%. Most respondents just throw them in the trash can.
  • Phone Books cannot go in your regular recycling stream due to paper quality:
    Many recyclers won’t accept telephone books because the fibers used to make the books’ lightweight pages are too short to be reformulated into new paper. In fact, mixing old phonebooks in with other waste paper can even contaminate the batch, hindering the recyclability of the other paper fibers.
  • When books are recycled, think of the transportation and logistics costs:
    You can visit a site called to find the closest recycling center to take your used and or unwanted books for recycling. And this all sounds great except how much gas and energy is being used by the individual to go and recycle a telephone book that you did not want in the first place? So I am getting an unsolicited book and being told to recycle it. How about not giving it to me in the first place?
  • If you can get them recycled, yes there is a great savings:
    According to Los Gatos, California’s Green Valley Recycling, if all Americans recycled their phonebooks for a year, we would save 650,000 tons of paper and free up two million cubic yards of landfill space. Modesto, California’s Parks, Recreation & Neighborhoods Department says that for each 500 books recycled, we save 7,000 gallons of water, 3.3 cubic yards of landfill space, 17 to 31 trees and 4,100 kilowatts of electricity, enough to power an average home for six months.
  • And there are some odd uses for exisiting phone books:
    • Their pages make excellent fire starters in a wood-burning fireplace or outdoor fire pit.
    • Balled up or shredded phonebook pages also make nice packaging filler in place of problematic polystyrene “peanuts.”
    • Phonebook pages can also be shredded and used as mulch to keep weeds down in your garden.
    • The paper is compostable and biodegradable and will eventually return back to the soil.
    • Those with an artistic bent can use old phonebooks to make flipbook style animated drawings, as described by animator Robert Truscio on his “Drawings That Move” instructional website.
    • There are also a number of telephone book collectors; some who make money selling their stock to those with a historical interest or who are researching family genealogies. Lifelong collector Gwillim Law sells old phonebooks from all 50 U.S. states as well as from most Canadian and Australian provinces.


Environmental Issues from PPM
Composters and Composting


Peoplepoweredmachines is a family owned business, 11 years old, always selling environmentally sound products such as reel mowers, electric mowers, composters, rainbarrels, solar products and more.

Stop! Don’t put Shredded Paper in your Recycling Bin


Now that many cities are moving towards single stream recycling systems, one thing that is not clear to consumers is that not all paper can go into these big sorters. In fact do not put any shredded paper in as it clogs machines, and if it does get thru it  lowers the value of that batch of paper!

Shredded paper is too small to sort—the pieces fall through the cracks of the sorting machines, stick to the belts and end up all over the floor.

As well, the paper mills that buy recycled paper must do a quality sort on the material before they put it into their multi-million dollar machines, and it’s just plain impossible to do a good quality sort of shredded paper. Many contaminants can hide in the shred, such as plastic strips from a document cover that were accidentally shredded along with the paper. For this reason, paper markets don’t like to buy shredded paper and don’t like to see it in with the higher-grade junk mail and office paper.

When you shred paper, what you’re actually doing is cutting the lengths of the individual paper fibers, thus cutting the future recycling potential of that fiber. The length of a paper fiber determines its value since a longer fiber can be used to make a higher-grade paper and can be recycled more times.


  • Worms love a layer of shredded paper on top of them. They like the dark and the paper keeps the moisture content nice and even. So use the paper in your worm composter.
  • Compost piles are always looking for “brown matter” during these winter months, so that is a great place to put your shredded paper. It will virtually dissolve before spring. We have a Sunmar composter which is filled with kitchen waste and the newspaper definitely helps heat up the composter during the winter months.




And if you are curious, there are a host of videos on YouTube showing you how these very cool single stream recycling centers work. I particularly like to watch how magnets make the aluminum cans fly away from the other waste materials.

YouTube Videos : Tour recycling plants and watch the recycling process


Top 10 Greenest Colleges in America


Oberlin College

Recently we have been working with schools and universities on larger scale composting systems and big belly solar compacting garbage cans. As well we have been offering a range of composting curriculum and educational composters and working with educational consultants such as GreenFoxSchools. Suffice to say we are in the thick of the greening of schools movement. As a newly retired teacher, you can imagine how proud I am to be contributing to these efforts plus it keeps me in touch with my school network.

Anyway, I digress. The real reason for this post is to point out the article on the Daily Green on America’s top 10 Greenest Colleges.

America’s institutions of higher learning are some of the best incubators of sustainable solutions to myriad problems, and they are molding and inspiring the bright minds that will inherit the environment from the current generation of leaders.


  • College of the Atlantic
  • Warren Wilson College
  • Evergreen State College
  • Oberlin College
  • Middlebury College
  • Berea College
  • University of California
  • UC Merced
  • Harvard University
  • Duke University


  • Northland College in Ashland, Wisconsin
  • Yale University in New Haven, Connecticut.
  • Connecticut College in New London, Connecticut.
  • Tufts University in Massachussets.
  • Green Mountain College in Poultney, Vermont.
  • Western Washington University in Bellingham, Washington.
  • University of Vermont in Burlington, Vermont.

Northland College

Northland College