Greening Your Playgrounds
While play may be all about fun for kids, that doesn't mean you need to avoid getting serious about protecting the environment. Investing in greener playgrounds showcases your commitment to the environment and to the value of play. The good news is that you can get the green message out in multiple ways when you're adding a new playground.
Q: How can we ensure our playground is more environmentally friendly?
A: Milk jugs, water bottles, worn-out cars, old appliances—the list of junk that heads into our nation's landfills is seemingly never-ending. But you can reduce the impact of that waste by investing in a playground manufactured from post-consumer recycled materials. Plastic and steel don't need to be cast away—they can be recycled into fun outdoor playground equipment.
Manufacturers have been proactive in ensuring their play equipment is getting greener. For example, one manufacturer's steel posts are made up to 95 percent recycled steel, while its plastic deck planks are 98 percent recycled plastic. There is even an edger to contain your loose-fill safety surface manufactured from up to 100 percent post-consumer recycled plastic. Just one of this company's large playground structures is made from 20,000 plastic jugs and saves 20 trees!
Q: How can we extend our green message?
A: As long as you're building a playground made from recycled materials, why not use it as an opportunity to educate the children who will play there?
When the children get involved, you'll be able to generate interest from potential sponsors to help fund your playground. At the same time, you'll be teaching children a valuable lesson about recycling. Maybe you can partner with a local recycler. Nonprofit foundations, local businesses and even local residents also might be interested in getting behind your playground project when you highlight its unique, green aspects.
Q: What else should we look for?
A: Look for a manufacturer that is certified to ISO 14001-2004. This certification, released by the International Organization for Standardization, aims to reduce the business's environmental footprint, while decreasing pollution and waste.