In case you missed it, we don't just have one planetary catastrophe unfolding, we have THREE: climate, ecosystems, and POLLUTION. All interacting & overlapping, but existing in their own right.
And at the dead centre of these intersecting circles, we can find plastics. If we had a magic wand to solve the climate and the ecological crises, we'd still be existentially threatened by our pollution. And yet, just this summer, we are seeing more and more plastic for sale, not just the usual bottles, packages and bags, but layers of it carpeting outside spaces. Spaces where insects and soil dwelling animals used to live.
We are facing an unprecedented biodiversity crisis, with the head of the Environment Agency warning of a mass extinction of nature unless we change our ways. Our use of plastics inside our homes is everywhere: carpets, kitchen worktops, cupboards, baths, laminates are all made of it. But our gardens were once a small haven for plants and wildlife to continue to try and flourish in an ever plasticized world. Can we really afford to start covering these outdoor spaces in it too?
Plastic grass is made of fossil fuels (oil and shale gas) which are sourced through fracking (which pollutes land when chemicals are pumped at pressure to release the gas) and then cracked into plastic at petrochemical plants, using vast amounts of energy. Tiny pieces of this plastic break off from plastic grass and go into the soil, the water, and eventually animals and humans. Plastic particles have recently been found in human blood and lungs. We don’t yet know how dangerous this is, as the amount of plastic in our environment has been steadily rising in the last few decades and we are in an unprecedented situation.
Source: Common Seas 25/3/22
Did you know that the blades in artificial turf contain PFAs? PFAS are known as “forever chemicals,” since they accumulate in the body and do break not down. Nearly all Americans' blood is polluted with PFAS chemicals, which have been linked to lower childhood immunity, endocrine disruption and cancer. Children are especially vulnerable to harm from PFAS because of their developing bodies and PFAS chemicals’ persistence in the body. The whole lifecycle of plastic from production to use to disposal affects these aspects of human health through a startling array of different chemicals: cardiovascular, renal, gastrointestinal, neurological, reproductive, and respiratory systems, impacts include cancers, diabetes, neuro-, reproductive, and developmental toxicity.
Source: CIEL and EWG 29/10/19
Did you know that companies selling plastic grass try to make their products sound less bad for the environment than they really are? The Advertising Standards Authority this year banned plastic grass companies from boasting that they’re eco friendly. The product was made of plastic, the ASA said, and, taking into account its whole lifecycle, it “had a negative impact on the environment”.
Source: ASA 8/6/22
Plastic grass covers up the earth, one of the places where plants and animals live. If we don’t value the living soil beneath our feet and let it degrade, compact and die, we are sleepwalking into a world without the nature that we are part of and it will have disastrous implications for all of us in the future. We need to cherish every outdoor space and give it a chance to thrive if we want a liveable future. The head of the Environment Agency, Sir James Bevan, warns of the potential loss of our natural ecosystems that pose an existential risk to human survival. This catastrophe awaits humanity unless action is taken by businesses, government and individuals to prevent further damage and rebuild the natural environment. Covering a garden in plastic makes the crisis worse.
Source: Environment Agency 12/7/22
Did you know the end of life plans for plastic grass are dangerous to human health? In the UK there are no recycling facilities so it gets burnt. Across the UK, waste incinerators are three times more likely to be built in the poorest neighbourhoods than in the more affluent. The incineration of plastics contributes both greenhouse gases to climate change, and a cocktail of pollutants that are toxic to human health from nitrogen oxide to furans, dioxins, metals, and ultra-fine particulates that escape through even the most advanced incinerator filters.
Source: Independent 17/7/21