The fight against the artificial lawn has ramped up to a new level. In Sheffield, England, researchers are urging public officials to give a tax discount to homeowners who say no to installing artificial lawns.
The call to action followed a report from the University of Sheffield claiming gardens should be “full of plants to be beneficial to the local environment” rather than toxic fake lawns.
Professor Ross Cameron, one of the study’s authors, which was published in the Journal of Urban Forestry and Urban Greening, claims that real, diverse landscaping has numerous benefits. “Gardens account for a third of all our urban areas and are vital spaces in terms of keeping our buildings and city environments cool in summer, absorbing rain to avoid flash flooding and providing an important refuge for wildlife,” he explained to the BBC.
In comparison, artificial lawns leach chemicals and microplastics into the environment and fail to properly drain rainwater into the soil. There have even been studies linking cancer to baseball players who played on the turf in the United States.
Cameron also noted that it’s not just the installation of artificial lawns but also the effort folks take to prevent plants from cropping up. “Many residents use artificial grass that kills much of the soil life underneath it, and when real plants are present, we wrongly assume we need to hit them with a cocktail of chemicals to keep them alive and free of pests,” Cameron shared.
These researchers aren’t the only folks who have raised the alarm against artificial lawns either; the Total Environment Centre and its Australian Microplastics Assessment Project is also a staunch opponent of the lawns after observing their environmental impacts.
Despite the study, there has been a lack of action on the policymaking to “use financial incentives” to incentivize natural lawns and gardens rather than plastic ones. A Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs spokesperson told the BBC that there were no current plans for these suggested incentives nor a legislative effort to ban artificial grass in the area.
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