Fake Green

By Keira De Vita

Climate change is one of the biggest pressing issues in today’s society. As the problem has rapidly heightened over the years, humans have created multiple notable ways to make this process of accelerating temperatures as well as increasing greenhouse gasses in our atmosphere much worse. One of these issues contributing to the climate change problem is fake grass. Fake grass or ‘turf’ comes in three typical forms: polyethylene, polypropylene and nylon. These materials are part of the problem.

To expand, polyethylene, polypropylene and nylon are different types of plastics and petroleum based products that put off benzene and vinyl hydrochloride while the plastics are being made. Everything from the plastics to the toxins released from the creation of plastics is sent into our atmosphere as well as contaminating soil. Plastics are also a problem to climate change, contributing to plastic pollution. This further illustrates why fake grass can be such an issue to our climate change crises. 

Student Maria Edirisinghe, an organizer at Sunrise Silicon Valley, provided her stance on the fake grass predicament. Edirisinghe focuses on environmental injustices in marginalized communities who are disporotionally impacted by the negative effect of climate change. She states that “Although artificial grass saves water and is easier to maintain, it is still a petroleum based product that disrupts the natural cycle of the environment in specific ways.” She goes on to explain how fake grass contaminates runoff (water that flows on the ground into drains and sewers, later fed into the ocean) which then leads into harming our oceans and aquatic life. Edirisinghe’s full interview “The Complete Fake Green Interview” can be found linked at the bottom of the article.

A way to aid slowing down the process of climate change is through sustainability of products, which is everything fake grass is not. One exception to the big question “is fake grass sustainable?” comes down to the location and quantity in which it is used. An example of this is the use of fake grass in a lawn compared to the use of it in a football field. The use of fake grass in a lawn is comparatively better to that of use in a football field. Factors to make the lawn a better option is that there is less of a need to manufacture as much turf whereas covering a football field takes yards upon yards. The less production of fake grass the better. Which leads to the next point of the sustainability of the grass through everyday conditions. Lawn turf is not as quickly worn down as a football field’s turf would be. It is almost required for it to be replaced every 8 years for maximum safety for sports that occur on the field. Not only is this producing more fake grass for the football field, but it then requires the disposal of the grass as well. Being that fake grass is made up of non biodegradable plastics, the process of breaking down fake grass and its components can take years.

Natural grass is so important to the health of the ecosystem it is planted in. It is, in both ways, good and bad. The bad part about grass is the cost of water to upkeep it, and depending on the environment, it can be frowned upon to upkeep a lawn with water due to drought conditions. If watering your lawn is something you worry about try using different forms of indirect water like greywater, or buckets of rainfall water. Differing from the upkeep aspect, real grass is extremely beneficial to the environment due to its role in the water cycle. The water cycle is what precipitates water from the ground into the clouds where the water then comes down from the clouds and the cycle is repeated. Because of this, the water that grass stores makes for a healthier surrounding ecosystem. Grass “helps clean air, slows the flow of rainfall, provides a wildlife habitat to all those little critters that are crucial to the function of our ecosystems that drive production,” states Edirisinghe, she continues to say “that real grass should be used wherever it can be maintained as it is essential to our ecosystem and the clean air we breathe.”

It can be understood that if an ecosystem cannot support the life of grass, exploring other options are valid. An idea for this predicament would be to plant plants that are native to the area or plants that would generally thrive there to aid that specific ecosystem.

Link for interview: The Complete Fake Green Interview

Work cited:

“Pollution From Plastics.” The World Counts, https://www.theworldcounts.com/stories/pollution-from-plastic.