For some time environmental catch phrases such as, “eco friendly,” “green,” and “sustainable,” can be heard in all different circles. One more recent area that this environmental movement has caught in is the world of playground equipment. There are many playground equipment companies that provide eco-friendly playground equipment in today’s market, KOMPAN for example. What is eco friendly playground equipment anyways? It may be surprising to find out that it is often more durable, safer, and longer lasting than conventional equipment.
Any plastic used on or around an eco friendly playground will be recycled, often from old milk jugs. Playground equipment, benches, chairs, and picnic tables can all be made from “trash” that otherwise may have been discarded and unused in landfills for years on end. Any sort of rubberized play surface, whether mulch, tiled, or poured can be made from recycled rubber such as the soles of old tennis shoes or worn out tires. The building of this playground is a great opportunity to teach children about recycling. Bins can be set up on or near the playground site to collect milk cartons and and old tennis shoes.
For an eco friendly playground environment, designers and builders will strive to use all non-toxic materials. Until recently, nearly all lumber used in building playgrounds was treated with a chemical mixture called chromium copper arsenate. Treating the lumber with this chemical helped lengthen the life of the equipment by delaying the inevitable weathering and rotting of the wood. The main component of this mixture, however, is arsenic. Several studies have shown that, over time, the arsenic can leak into the soil. This is damaging to the environment, local wildlife, and the children using the playground. Now, there are recycled lumber options. There are also organizations that monitor lumber production to ensure that any lumber bought comes from a responsible and sustainable source.
Often designers of eco friendly playgrounds do not focus on simply the equipment, but on the area and community as a whole. Community gardens are cropping up. Children can work in, weed, and watch the flowers and vegetables grow. At harvest time the food can be donated to a local food bank. Some playgrounds have a built in way to collect rain water, that can then be used to water nearby plants. Trees can be planted and are a great source of natural beauty and shade. Additions such as birdhouses, bird feeders, bat houses, and butterfly bushes can turn a simple trip to a community playground into a wildlife experience for the entire family. Eco friendly playgrounds are a great investment for our planet, community, and children.