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11-10-2021

Is Artificial Turf Eco-Friendly? Here’s What You Need to Know

It’s well established that synthetic turf looks great year-round, unlike natural grass. But it can actually be the better pick for the environment, too.

That may seem counterintuitive. After all, how can artificial grass be more environmentally friendly than plain old natural grass? The truth, though, is that synthetic turf systems — especially those that use an organic artificial turf infill — can be a lot kinder to the earth, for a few reasons. 

Below, we break down what, exactly, makes synthetic turf an excellent choice for anyone looking to shrink their environmental footprint. And that’s true whether you’re installing turf on the soccer field or in your backyard.

Is Artificial Turf More Eco-Friendly Than Grass? 4 Reasons Why It Is

1. Artificial turf saves water.

Especially in drought-prone regions, wasting water on a sprinkler system to keep your lawn green simply isn’t an option. That’s why so many Californians, in particular, have been among the frontrunners in the movement to replace natural grass yards and fields with synthetic turf. And the results have been big. According to the Los Angeles Department of Engineering, every synthetic field saves the city about 2,480,000 gallons of water each year. 

That may seem like an outsized number. But when a standard garden hose runs through about 1,020 gallons of water per hour, as a homeowner, watering three times a week means your natural grass lawn guzzles around 12,240 gallons of water per month. 

Artificial turf, meanwhile, requires next to no water. Although you’ll occasionally want to hose it down to free it of any dirt and dust — and you’ll want to hose it a little more regularly if there’s a pup in the house, too — your synthetic turf lawn doesn’t need any water to stay lush and functional. And that’ll save you on your water bill, too.

2. Artificial turf reduces carbon emissions.

You may be thinking: “But doesn’t natural grass remove CO2 from the air, like trees?” While that’s technically true, growing grass also puts carbon back into the atmosphere. Not only that, but natural grass requires mowing equipment, which uses diesel and petroleum. 

As reported on by the Princeton Student Climate Initiative, it takes about 800 million gallons of gasoline annually, with an additional 17 million gallons spilled in the process, to fuel the equipment used in natural lawn upkeep. Consumer-grade leaf blowers, in particular, can pack a noxious punch. One study found that gas-powered leaf blowers release more hydrocarbons than most pickup trucks and sedans.

Although carbon emissions may be involved in the making and transportation of artificial turf, once your turf has been installed, its carbon output effectively becomes a zero. Your turf is going to look and work great — and stay that way for years — without any gas-guzzling maintenance equipment required.

3. Artificial grass doesn’t use toxic chemicals.

This is a prime example of a time when “natural” actually means anything but. Most natural grass lawns soak up a combination of fertilizers, pesticides, herbicides and other chemical-heavy products on a quarterly or even monthly basis. These synthetic fertilizers and weed- and pest-killers aren’t just energy-intensive to manufacture. Most also wind up releasing huge amounts of nitrous oxide gas into the atmosphere, a greenhouse gas with about 300 times the heat-trapping ability of CO2.

A naturally pest-averse artificial turf lawn, meanwhile, eliminates the need for any toxic chemicals. That makes turf a much safer and surer bet for those hoping to reduce their household’s chemical exposure — especially if you have small feet and paws running around.

4. An organic synthetic turf infill means earning even more earth-friendly points.

While most artificial turf is inherently more eco-friendly than natural grass, choosing an organic infill will make your whole turf system that much more sustainable. Take Safeshell for example.

Made from 100% natural and U.S.-grown walnut shells, Safeshell infill is naturally cooling and the first turf infill to be USDA BioPreferred certified. Chemical and allergen free, it’s safe enough to eat (though we wouldn’t necessarily recommend doing that) and completely biodegradable. That means that at the end of Safeshell’s long lifecycle, it can be completely returned to the earth — nothing wasted!

Pairing your artificial turf with a durable, organic infill like Safeshell will help ensure a turf system is as earth-friendly as it possibly can be. Ready to go natural yourself? Contact us about adding Safeshell to your turf system today!

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