Eden Project installs plastic grass to prevent children from getting muddy | Eden project

The Eden Project in Cornwall has installed plastic grass in a children’s play area to keep them from getting muddy.

The garden is one of a number of organizations and public bodies laying artificial grass in what environmentalists say is an epidemic of plastic being laid in the UK. According to data on Google Trends, there was a huge interest in buying synthetic turf in the UK during the lockdown.

The growing fashion to install plastic instead of natural lawns is due to synthetic turf retailers making increasingly louder environmental claims about their products.

The latest development is synthetic turf known as “air”, which manufacturers say is able to purify air pollution by oxidizing organic components and bad odors at the molecular level.

Campaigners describe this as greenwash, pointing out that natural grass already “cleans the air” through photosynthesis, absorbing carbon dioxide and producing oxygen. Grass also provides habitats for insects and worms, attracts birds that feed on invertebrates, and helps drain rainwater.

Richard Dowling, a campaigner, said the speed and scale at which natural gardens were being removed and replaced with plastic was “a disaster”. “This is something that is quickly taking over and we must now view it as a disaster. If we lose all our gardens, our wildlife – already displaced by intensive farming and pesticides – has nowhere to go.”

Google searches for artificial grass graphic

The UK has lost more natural biodiversity since the Industrial Revolution than almost anywhere else in Europe, according to a study by scientists at the Natural History Museum in London. Dowling has started a petition to introduce an ecological tax on synthetic turf.

Carlisle City Council, which in its mission statement on climate change says it wants to play a full role in protecting the environment, was recently criticized for spending £50,000 on a pop-up park with artificial grass.

Somerset City Council put plastic grass on a roundabout and sent an official to cut it with a lawnmower.

The Eden Project confirmed that it had used plastic grass in a children’s playground† According to its mission, it is committed to improving the collective understanding of the connections between all living things… fresh air, clean water, fertile soil, rich biodiversity.”

A spokesperson said: “To ensure the safety of the children enjoying this temporary play area, we have made the decision to use durable and soft synthetic turf that will be reused many times. Real grass in this context would be muddy within a few hours and thus would not have been sustainable.”

Research shows that synthetic turf – which is usually made from a mix of plastics – polypropylene, polyurethane and polyethylene – increases heat in the areas where it is used. When it breaks down, it can release microplastics into the environment, which are thought to be harmful to humans.

There is little data on the carbon footprint of synthetic turf, most of which is manufactured in China and Vietnam and shipped to the UK. “It’s a product of fossil fuels,” said Charlotte Howard, a Wiltshire gardener who campaigns for natural gardens.

Howard says the fake turf boom is being fueled by social media influencers such as Ms Hinch. Howard specializes in helping families in new construction homes whose gardens have poor soil as developers remove and sell the top soil, leaving the yard with poor soil and no drainage.

“When I went in to remove artificial grass, the mess is terrible. They often stink, and if you lift the plastic grass, you’ll find a sea of ​​dead worms,” ​​she said.

Howard said that despite manufacturers’ claims, synthetic turf was not maintenance-free. Pet feces have to be scraped off, the grass pile swept, weeds crawl through, pet urine causes bad odors and the plastic eventually breaks down, she said.

dr. Robert Francis, an ecologist at King’s College London, is researching the ecological impact of plastic grass. “Artificial lawns meet the cultural demands of ‘good’ lawns,” he wrote. “Yet they do so at the cost of remaining ‘naturalness’ and embodiment of life.”

He said his research had found that synthetic turf can increase flood risk in cities because rainfall cannot drain into the soil, causing more runoff.

The Association of Artificial Grass Installers did not respond to requests for comment.

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