Is the artificial grass greener?

artificial lawnWhether artificial grass is greener and more environmentally friendly than natural grass maintenance is a complicated issue.   On one hand, fake grass saves water and electricity and eliminates the need to use chemical products.  On the other – it’s made from plastic, so how can it be a green choice?

How can a plastic product be green?

As a plastic-based product, artificial grass is reliant on oil for its production so how can this be a green choice?  This debate has been going on for decades.  Many studies have been carried out to try to determine which produces more carbon emissions – the maintenance of natural grass or the production of an artificial product.  Unfortunately, results are not very conclusive.

Life

Fake grass is not natural, so it does not offer the biodiversity of a live lawn.  Although, it can also be argued that fertilisers and pesticides create imbalances and kill-off living systems.  Synthetic grass supporters also refer to many cases where grass clippings have been blamed for polluting the environment such as the Mississippi River.  As grass clippings decay, they release nutrients which upset complex eco-systems, harming plants and wildlife.

Waste

When grass dies it goes back into the earth and decomposes naturally, whereas plastic ends up as landfill waste.  There is no disputing this.  However, these days, many artificial grass manufacturers are using recycled materials in production.  For instance plastic bottles can be re-used to form the weave and the backing.

Water

In areas like California where there are serious water shortages, fake grass tends to be considered the most eco-friendly option.  In Las Vegas, the Government actually pays citizens not to water their lawns, by way of a rebate.  They calculated that every square foot of grass replaced with an alternative will save an average of 55 gallons of water per year.

Mowing

The EPA in the US have calculated that Americans use 800 million gallons of fuel per year in petrol-powered engines for lawn care.  This accounts for 9% of air pollution.  A Swedish study found that cutting grass for an hour with a gas lawn mower is about the same as that from a 100 mile car journey.  The EU is currently looking at revising laws.

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