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Australia has seen a surge in the adoption of artificial grass, especially in areas where space is at a premium. Whether it’s in small gardens or expansive sporting fields, synthetic turf seems to be the new favorite, largely because of its evergreen nature that demands no watering, mowing, or any other form of maintenance.

Source: Jimmy Lewis/YouTube

Recent statistics from New South Wales paint a clear picture: from 2018 to now, the number of suburban sporting fields using fake grass has risen from 30 to an astonishing 181. This sixfold increase is, however, not without its critics.

Environmental advocates raise flags about the synthetic nature of this grass. Their concerns revolve around the presence of microplastics, the chemical composition of the grass, and its potential to increase urban heat. Top among these concerns are the microplastic elements like crumb rubber, often derived from used tires, which deteriorate under the sun’s influence, releasing various chemicals.

Such is the concern that prominent environmental groups, like the Total Environment Centre and Ausmap, are urging authorities to pause and reconsider the rapid adoption of synthetic fields. They’ve found unsettling evidence that these fields shed vast amounts of microplastics, with a single stormwater sample from a Sydney turf field revealing up to 70,000 particles of rubber crumb.

Moreover, the heat generated by these fields in sunlight can be intense, with instances of children in Perth getting second-degree burns from simply walking on them. This raises questions about the practicality of synthetic turfs in regions that experience high temperatures.

However, it’s not all gloom. Synthetic grass’s resilience is noteworthy, enduring up to 60 hours of use a week, which is twice the capacity of natural turf. They also offer consistent play quality throughout the year.

But the environmental cost, coupled with potential health risks, raises crucial questions. As synthetic turf manufacturers pivot towards more eco-friendly materials, such as cork and engineered wood chips, the future of these fields in Australia remains a topic of hot debate. The hope is for a middle ground, where the environment doesn’t pay the price for our convenience.

 Solution Not Pollution by Tiny Rescue: Climate Collection
Solution Not Pollution by Tiny Rescue: Climate Collection

Solution Not Pollution by Tiny Rescue: Climate Collection

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