09 May Is Artificial Grass Environmentally Friendly?
While fake grass often comes under flak for supposedly not being environmentally friendly, the facts indicate the opposite. Preserving planet Earth is a big factor influencing the buying decision of the average consumer, so it comes as no surprise that many homeowners are investigating how fake grass compares to natural grass when it comes to being environmentally friendly. Let’s look at how, when it comes to environmental impact, synthetic grass actually compares well to normal grass.
Getting to the root cause of the argument: Is artificial grass bad for the environment?
When answering this question, almost all of those who say ‘yes’ do so on the basis of an oversimplified answer. They point to what synthetic turf is made of, namely man-made materials including plastics, and then go straight to the end-of-product-life-cycle disposal issue to argue that fake grass is not good for the environment.
The argument that many plastics, including synthetic turf, ends up in landfill sites firstly ignores the fact that today, there are many recyclable and also upcycled artificial grass options available, which are in fact made from material such as discarded rubber thrown into these very same landfills.
Re-use, upcycling and recycling of fake grass
End-of-product-lifespan reuse and recycling is a major factor often overlooked. Technology is always advancing, and manufacturers race against each other to roll out the latest pro-sustainability improvements and eco-friendly artificial grass variations.
Why it’s important to look at sustainability holistically
Much more importantly, though, is that the factors that make a product environmentally friendly or not, are not limited to what happens to the product at the end of the day. You also need to look at the whole picture – how hazardous is the product during its actual lifetime? This is what we will look at next.
Is artificial grass bad for the environment? Comparing synthetic grass to natural grass?
Although it might seem counter-intuitive, an important question to ask is: is natural grass all that ‘natural’ to begin with? Perfectly manicured lawns are not found in nature. Landscaping, especially for huge plots of land or recreational spaces involve landscaping which, firstly, involves disturbing the natural ecosystems above and below ground.
Typically, huge amounts of weed-eater chemicals and pesticides have to be used to attain that perfectly manicured look. These contain harmful, man-made chemicals released into the atmosphere and fragile Ozone layer.
Lawns need to be mowed, adding to carbon emissions. In fact, cutting grass for an hour releases the same air pollution as driving your car for 160 kilometres. The impact becomes huge when you add up the environmental cost of mowing pitches in stadiums and schools across the globe.
Grass needs to be watered in order to stay in good condition. Grass grounds for sporting fields need even more water to keep them usable, strong, soft and generally fit for play.
Finally, there is the cost of fertilising the grass. In fact chemical fertiliser, which contains nitrates and phosphates, is commonly thought to be one of the main water pollutants worldwide. It causes eutrophication which eventually depletes water of oxygen, causing the death of bigger organisms such as fish.
By contrast, none of these above eco-negative issues apply to the maintenance of synthetic grass.
The environmental benefits of fake grass
Synthetic turf has the opposite maintenance requirements to natural lawn, as described above. This makes it environmentally beneficial in the following ways:
- It requires far less water to maintain. A good rinse now and then to wash away debri is all that’s required. This greatly reduces water wastage.
- There is no need to mow artificial grass, eliminating the equivalent carbon emissions that result from mowing natural grass.
- Synthetic turf does not need to be fertilised. As such, fake grass does not add to water pollution, compared to the water pollution caused by fertiliser runoff from normal grass into water sources.
- Fake grass completely eliminates the need for harmful chemicals and pesticides which make their way into the atmosphere.
So not only will fake grass be a financial saving in the long run, it is also easy on the environment making it a win-win purchase decision on all fronts.