Who wouldn’t want to have a big lawn to hang out on during those warm summer days?
A lawn can be a place to hold various activities, including sports, outdoor dinner parties, and barbies. While the green movement has been sweeping across the world, more and more people are looking to reduce the number of pollutants they personally inject into the atmosphere. So we run into this issue when discussing lawns – which is “greener”? Is it the lawn that is grown from grass seed and mowed every couple weeks or is it the artificial turf made of synthetic fibers that resemble natural grass? You’ll be surprised at the answer.
Think of how often you’ve gone through a neighborhood and heard the engine of someone mowing their lawn. Think of how many gallons of gas are used mowing those lawns, and how much of that limited resource could be saved simply by replacing that natural lawn with an artificial lawn which requires no mowing?
While mowers and other lawn care machines have been regulated to reduce emissions, many large and inefficient lawn mowers still exist today. Many of these are high volume gas guzzlers and pump out significantly more chemicals than newer more environmentally-friendly lawnmowers.
Grass clippings emit methane, a greenhouse gas. This occurs because when you empty your lawnmower bag into a compost pile, oxygen cannot reach the grass to help break it down. According to a scientific study, methane can trap more than a dozen times the radiant heat than carbon dioxide.
While chemicals are a very effective way to control weeds and harmful grass-munching bugs, these pesticides leak into the ground and into groundwater sources (drinking water). In addition because the ecological balance of micro-organisms is disrupted with the use of these chemicals, we essentially sterilize the soil and disable most, if not all, of the microbial contents of the soil.
Think of how much water it takes to keep a lawn healthy and brown patch-free? When users keep water spigots running throughout the night, this is a significant amount of water. Given the water shortage throughout the world, we can save millions of gallons of water by instead replacing that natural lawn with a maintenance-free artificial lawn.
As is evident throughout this piece, natural grass may actually be the less green of the two lawn options. We all enjoy lying on the nice cool grass after a much-needed summer mow, but is this the most beneficial to the environment? When evaluating the various environmental externalities associated with maintaining a healthy natural lawn, it is not the greener option. Lawn machines guzzle millions of gallons of gas each year, in addition to pumping vast amounts of carbon into the atmosphere. Grass clippings emit methane gas which contributes to global warming and pesticides and fertilizers seep into the ground and pollute groundwater. Finally, watering natural lawns to keep them green and healthy constitutes the last major environmental negativity of natural lawns. While factory manufacturing artificial lawns/turf does come with its own environmental concerns, the carbon footprint is not nearly as large as those with a natural lawn.