Problem Solver - August 2011
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Find Eco-Friendlier Playgrounds

There are many ways to make your facilities greener, and you might find solutions in surprising areas. For example, you can focus on green playgrounds for children, which will not only serve to make your facilities eco-friendlier, but will also help teach children an important lesson.

Q: Our organization has adopted a new green mission, and we're looking for environmentally friendly playgrounds. What should we consider?

A: Playground manufacturers have found ways to turn an array of recycled and recyclable materials into fun play elements for children. Plastic and steel don't need to end up in a landfill when they can be recycled into outdoor play equipment.

Many manufacturers have taken steps to ensure their play equipment is eco-friendly. For example, you can find steel posts made from up to 95 percent recycled steel, or plastic deck planks that are 98 percent recycled plastic. When manufacturers rely on recycled materials, it's possible to create a large playground structure that uses 20,000 plastic jugs. What's more, the same play structure can save 20 trees.

Q: We'd like to take our green playground one step further and teach children about the importance of caring for the environment. What should we do?

A: You can pass along your green message before your playground is even installed by getting students or children involved from the beginning. Talk to the kids about the value of recycling, and get them involved in a milk-jugs-for-playgrounds competition. Ask kids to collect recycled materials to help generate funding. With the interest you create, you might even be able to convince local businesses to support you and your green efforts. You might consider partnering with a local recycler to spread their message through the community. And other organizations will be glad to get behind a project with a positive message about getting children active and helping the environment at the same time.

Q: What else should we consider?

A: Double-check your manufacturer's credentials. Many may claim to be "green," but if you want to be sure of their eco-friendly intentions, look for ISO 14001-2004 certification. This certification, released by the International Organization for Standardization, signals the company's commitment to reducing their environmental footprint, pollution and waste.


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