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Artificial grass is becoming increasingly popular, with many homeowners opting to replace natural lawns with synthetic ones. The benefits of artificial grass include uniformity, low maintenance, and no need for watering, mowing, or fertilization. However, this trend has raised concerns about its environmental impact.
Artificial turf for sports, which is produced under different brand names, has been linked to the deaths of six professional baseball players in Philadelphia due to the use of rubber granules from recycled tires that contain heavy metals, benzene, and other carcinogens. However, the plastic used for domestic and landscaping purposes is typically made from polypropylene or nylon and doesn’t contain rubber granules.
The global artificial turf market, including sports and domestic use, is expected to reach $6.83 billion in 2027, but the environmental impact of artificial grass cannot be ignored. Artificial lawns destroy natural habitats and soil, contribute to carbon emissions during manufacturing and transport, overheat in the summer, cause flooding as they absorb less than 50% of rain, and pollute waterways with microplastics.
Moreover, artificial lawns are neither biodegradable nor recyclable, and after their lifespan, they go into landfills where they continue to pollute. Thus, artificial lawns are not maintenance-free and accumulate excrement and urine from birds, mice, foxes, cats, and dogs that need to be regularly cleaned and disinfected.
Despite the benefits of artificial lawns, experts believe that they are not worth the environmental cost. In addition, synthetic lawns provide no habitat for invertebrates such as earthworms, which are essential food sources for birds and mammals. Furthermore, a WWF Living Planet Report found that globally, wildlife populations have decreased by 69% over the past 50 years, with the UK being one of the most nature-depleted countries in Europe.
Several campaigns have been launched by organizations such as the Royal Horticultural Society and the Landscape Institute, urging people to say no to fake grass. The Chelsea Flower show has banned fake grass, and the housing secretary Michael Gove plans to prevent developers from laying fake grass in new housing schemes.
There are alternative options that aren’t plastic, even for small north-facing city gardens with children. A woodland garden can be created to serve as an exploratory playground. A family garden doesn’t have to be about an expanse of lawn; there are different ways to engage children outdoors.
Even if you have a lawn, it doesn’t have to look like Centre Court on the opening day of Wimbledon. Accepting the seasons and the natural processes that occur in a garden can help reduce the pressure to control every aspect of a garden’s appearance.
In conclusion, the environmental cost of artificial grass outweighs its benefits. Natural lawns provide essential habitats for invertebrates, Support wildlife, mitigate flooding, and absorb CO2, unlike synthetic lawns. Therefore, it’s time to say no to fake grass and find alternative ways to create a beautiful and environmentally friendly outdoor space.
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