12 Reasons Artificial Grass Is Bad for the Environment - Weedingtech

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If you've ever considered installing artificial grass, you might want to think twice.

While it may seem like a viable solution for a low-maintenance, year-round green lawn, the reality is that artificial grass comes with a multitude of environmental drawbacks.

In this article, we'll explore 12 reasons why artificial grass is bad for the environment. From the manufacturing process to waste disposal issues, we'll delve into the various ways this synthetic alternative poses significant harm to our planet.


What is Artificial Grass?

Artificial grass, also known as synthetic turf, is a man-made surface designed to mimic the appearance of natural grass. Made from a blend of synthetic fibres, infill materials, and backing layers, it offers an artificial solution for those seeking an aesthetically pleasing, low-maintenance alternative to real grass.

Artificial grass is typically made from materials like polyethylene or polypropylene. These fibres are often combined with additives like UV stabilisers and colourants to enhance durability and visual appeal.

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Why is Artificial Grass bad for the environment?

There are many reasons why artificial grass is a terrible invention and is very bad for the environment. We’ve listed 12 reasons below in some more detail - but there will be many more reasons why you should avoid buying and laying it, if you possibly can!


1 - The Manufacturing Process of Artificial Grass

The manufacturing of artificial grass involves a complex process that requires significant energy and resources. It starts with the production of the synthetic fibres, which are then tufted onto a backing material. This backing material is typically made from a combination of materials like polyurethane and latex.

Once the fibres are tufted onto the backing, various layers of infill materials, such as sand or rubber granules, are added to provide stability and cushioning. These infill materials can pose their own set of environmental concerns, as we'll explore further in the following sections.


2 - Artificial Grass and Water Usage

While artificial grass may eliminate the need for watering, thus reducing water consumption on an individual level, it does come with its own water-related issues. Unlike natural grass, artificial grass does not absorb rainwater or allow it to seep into the soil. Instead, it often requires regular hosing or sprinkler systems to maintain its visual appeal.

This excessive use of water only exacerbates the strain on our already limited water resources. Additionally, the runoff from hosing or sprinkler systems may contribute to water pollution, as chemicals from infill materials can leach into waterways.


3 - Impact on Soil Health

Natural soil requires a delicate balance of organic matter, microorganisms, and beneficial insects to thrive. However, artificial grass prevents the natural processes that nourish the soil. The compacted base underneath the synthetic turf restricts aeration and the flow of nutrients.

This lack of airflow and nutrient circulation can lead to the degradation of soil quality over time. It also inhibits the growth of beneficial organisms that would live within and below real grass.


4 - Effects on Local Wildlife

Artificial grass disrupts the natural habitat of various wildlife species. The absence of natural grass limits the availability of food sources and shelter for insects, birds, and small mammals. This disruption in the food chain can ultimately lead to a decline in biodiversity and negatively impact the ecological balance.

Furthermore, the presence of infill materials like rubber granules can be harmful if ingested by wildlife. These materials can pose choking hazards and introduce harmful chemicals into the ecosystem.


5 - The Carbon Footprint of Artificial Grass

In addition to the direct environmental impact, artificial grass also contributes to the carbon footprint through the energy consumption involved in its production, transportation, and installation.

There will be a huge amount of Co2 emitted if you were to sum up each of those 3 steps of the process.


6 - Energy Consumption in Production

The manufacturing process of artificial grass requires substantial amounts of energy. From the extraction of raw materials to the production of synthetic fibres and the assembly of the final product, each step adds to the overall carbon emissions. The reliance on fossil fuels for energy further exacerbates the environmental impact.


7 - Transportation and Installation Emissions

Transporting and installing artificial grass can also contribute to greenhouse gas emissions. The heavy synthetic turf rolls require large trucks for transportation, which consume fuel and emit pollutants into the atmosphere.

Moreover, the installation process often involves the use of adhesives and other chemicals, releasing volatile organic compounds (VOCs) that contribute to air pollution.


8 - Waste and Disposal Issues

Another significant concern surrounding artificial grass lies in its waste generation and disposal. Unlike natural grass, which decomposes and returns valuable nutrients to the soil, synthetic turf does not biodegrade.

There are many cases of artificial grass breaking up due to strong weeds penetrating through the plastic - causing holes to form in the grass, where weeds will grow through.

This will then require more artificial grass to be purchased, thus enabling the cycle to continue.


9 - Non-Biodegradable Nature of Artificial Grass

When artificial grass reaches the end of its lifespan, it becomes a non-biodegradable waste item. Its synthetic fibres and various layers of infill materials pose challenges in terms of disposal.

This waste can end up in landfills, contributing to the accumulation of non-recyclable materials and potentially leaking harmful chemicals into the surrounding environment.


10 - Challenges in Recycling Artificial Grass

While recycling efforts for artificial grass are emerging, the process remains complex and limited. Separating the different components of synthetic turf and properly recycling them poses significant challenges.

Recycling the grass, if and when possible to do so, will also emit a huge amount of CO2 and use up huge volumes of water.


11 - Exposure to Harmful Chemicals

Artificial grass often contains various chemicals used in the manufacturing process, such as colourants and UV stabilisers. Prolonged exposure to these chemicals may pose health risks, particularly for those who come into direct contact with the synthetic turf, such as children playing on it or pets lounging on its surface.

Additionally, the infill materials used in artificial grass, such as rubber granules, can contain potentially harmful substances like heavy metals and carcinogens. Repeated contact with these materials increases the risk of exposure and potential health issues.


12 - Heat Absorption and Related Risks

One glaring drawback of artificial grass is its ability to absorb and retain heat. On hot summer days, the surface temperature of synthetic turf can become significantly higher than that of natural grass. This elevated temperature poses risks, especially for barefoot children and pets, who may suffer burns or heat-related injuries when coming into contact with the scorching surface.

The heat-absorbing properties of artificial grass will then contribute to the urban heat island effect, exacerbating the already sweltering conditions in urban areas.


Our Conclusion - Don’t opt for Artificial Grass!

It's important to consider both the environmental and health impacts of artificial grass before opting for this seemingly convenient alternative. While it may offer the allure of a vibrant green lawn year-round, the cost to our planet and our well-being is far too high.

Why not keep real grass, or lay a wildflower meadow if you want to help encourage wildlife whilst having a great garden feature.

Note that the above applies to the home setting - whereas for sports facilities whilst we can understand the necessity of having an artificial pitch laid, we still would rather real grass was used!

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