Maintaining a lawn is hard work. You need to water it, mow it, fertilize it, and complete many other minor upkeep tasks that are easy to overlook. Some people, especially in cooler parts of Europe, opt to just use artificial grass to keep their lawn looking green and healthy year-round. However, not everyone loves the idea of using plastic instead of the real thing.
In the UK, a growing petition is calling on Parliament to ban the sale of artificial grass. Is AstroTurf really that bad for the environment? Let’s take a closer look.
Activists argue that artificial grass should be banned because of its environmental impact. Creating large swaths of fake grass, using plastic and dye to emulate the appearance of real plants, is essentially moving in the opposite direction that climate activists want us to go.
While real grass can absorb CO2 emissions and supports wildlife, fake grass is essentially a dead zone. Insects and birds can’t use fake grass as a habitat. It doesn’t yield any seeds that can create more opportunities for nature to combat the effects of global warming.
Arguments in favor of synthetic grass focus on the water consumption of normal yards. Indeed, lawns are thirsty; they require more water than many similar plants in order to stay healthy. Another consideration for normal lawns is the fuel or electricity consumption at play when mowing the grass.
It could be easy to frame an argument about synthetic grass as being good for the environment. It’s more complicated than just black and white. While lawns aren’t as good for the environment as, say, a forest, they’re significantly less damaging than a huge patch of plastic smothering the dirt underneath.
If the petition in the UK receives 100,000 signatures before November 17, 2021, then Parliament will have to debate the resolution on the floor. Putting politicians in a position where they have to argue in favor of or against artificial grass could theoretically lead to it being banned in the country. That move could put pressure on the EU to follow suit.
As Europe pushes to become greener and environmentally conscious, bans on seemingly innocuous products will become more commonplace. And, if history teaches us anything, those bans will become ever more controversial as they affect products people love.