Because maintaining a lawn is such a pain, many people are now beginning to consider replacing their lawn with artificial grass. Artificial grass, which is sometimes commonly referred to as “astroturf” was once considered to be exclusively the thing of expensive sports stadiums. Now artificial grass is available to everyday consumers at a fairly affordable rate, usually under $100 per square meter.
Of course, price isn’t the only consideration when it comes to a lawn. People want to know that they’re making sound environmental decisions as well. So, is artificial grass bad for the environment? There are lots to consider with the environmental impact of artificial grass. Let’s look at some of the factors.
In terms of conserving water artificial grass is excellent however, the environmental benefit of water conservation is thought to be outweighed when the grass needs replacing. Artificial grass has a lifespan of around 25 years and with most going to landfill artificial grass is bad for the environment.
While that is the simple answer there is a lot more to it than that. If you are able to recycle article grass you can dramatically affect the cost to the environment. Let’s look in a lot more detail if we should be buying the best artificial grass if we value the environment.
Is Artificial Grass Bad for the Environment?
Like anything, artificial grass has pros and cons when it comes to its environmental impact. As many are aware, modern lawn care and upkeep are incredibly damaging to the environment.
Lawns consume a massive amount of freshwater each year. The average sprinkler system is designed to give lawns a half-inch of water, which consumes over a gallon of water for every square foot of lawn.
Artificial grass, on the other hand, consumes no water whatsoever. Once it is installed it will stay beautiful and green for its entire lifespan.
That is not to say it has no environmental impact, however. The main environmental problem associated with artificial grass is caused by its production.
Though there are many types of artificial grass, all of them are made from some kind of plastic. Plastics are petroleum-based, and their manufacture massively pollutes the air, land, and water.
Some artificial grass is made from recycled materials, but the process of recycling plastic is much more damaging to the environment than foregoing plastic altogether.
Is Artificial Grass Bad for Wildlife?
This question is a little difficult to answer. Artificial grass is built to last. That means there’s no worry of animals tearing it apart, eating it, and getting harmed that way.
In general, there aren’t any known negative effects on wildlife that are particular to artificial grass. That’s not to say more study won’t reveal something.
Unfortunately, maintaining any kind of green lawn – artificial or otherwise – has an environmental cost. Lawns eliminate potential homes for wildlife.
Insects are especially impacted, as every green lawn is an unfriendly place for a bee or butterfly. If someone wants to get rid of their lawn to make it better for wildlife, there are better alternatives than artificial grass.
How Long Will Artificial Grass Last?
This question has two different answers. Let’s look first at how long artificial grass will last in terms of usability. In general, artificial lawns are expected to last somewhere between 10 and 15 years.
The longevity of artificial grass depends largely on how it is used. If there’s a houseful of kids in the mix, the lifespan will be on the shorter end.
Now it’s time for the second answer to the question. When artificial grass needs to be replaced, it can be disposed of at any city dump. There it will begin the second phase of its life. Remember that artificial grass is made of plastic.
Plastics aren’t biodegradable, which means that they won’t wear away over time. Those chunks of artificial grass will live on at the dump or elsewhere in the landscape for hundreds, if not thousands of years.
Environmentalists opposed to artificial grass cite this as one of their main grievances.
Sum It Up
So, when it comes down to it, is artificial grass bad for the environment? Like everything else in life, the answer is not clear-cut or black-and-white.
It’s a yes and no answer at the same time. Artificial lawns definitely consume less water than their living counterparts.
That’s a big plus in the environmentally-friendly column because conserving water is becoming more and more of a concern.
However, the production of artificial grass also massively pollutes the environment, and the remnants of it will never biodegrade. It could potentially damage the environment for hundreds of years to come.
If the goal is to find an environmentally-friendly alternative to modern lawns, then artificial grass is not it. If the goal is to find a cost-effective, low-maintenance alternative, then artificial grass is exactly the ticket.