Problem Solver - August 2012
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Keep Your Play Spaces Green

Many factors are considered in our everyday buying decisions and their impact on the environment. The ultimate goal is to attain sustainability, a practice of meeting present needs without compromising future generations. While some companies may only plant trees and recycle water bottles, other companies consider the bigger, more important picture, including the materials and processes used, such as in the manufacturing of playground and fitness equipment. Using environmentally-friendly materials with smaller carbon footprints like PE (polyethylene) is one way in which green playground manufacturers are seeking alternatives to traditional materials like PVC (polyvinyl chloride), which cannot be easily or safely recycled (harmful dioxins are released if burned, which may occur during acts of vandalism). Genuinely green playground equipment manufacturers have adopted sustainable initiatives that encompass their entire operation.

Q: How do I know if a playground manufacturer is environmentally responsible?

A: The most environmentally conscious playground manufacturers have a truly authentic approach to their sustainable initiatives and have been certified as such, proving their dedication to protecting the environment, and providing the public with more information about them and how they conduct their operations. Green playground companies look beyond manufacturing to examine their total operation for substantial changes like installing energy-efficient systems, removing, reducing, reusing and recycling whenever possible, and adopting green initiatives all the way down to the cleaning products and gardening practices used. Pioneering companies dedicated to a commitment of this magnitude become LEED Certified by the U.S. Green Building Council. Selecting playground equipment produced by such a responsible, genuinely green company contributes to an investment to protect the environment for future generations.

Q: Why is the carbon footprint of playground equipment important?

A: Choosing sustainable playground equipment reduces the overall carbon footprint of your play space, helping to support a healthy environment for every child who comes to play at your park. Everything is considered in calculating a carbon footprint, from how materials are mined or produced, their transportation, manufacturing processes, packaging, shipping, as well as the final product. Some companies may only consider the environmental impact of a product through its manufacture to shipment. Responsible green playground manufacturers are concerned with the product's entire lifecycle—even the product's ability to be reused to create other products. Recycling equipment reduces the carbon footprint involved in having to mine or create new materials to make new products and reduces waste in landfills. When every aspect of a product's green lifecycle has been considered in its concept, design, material composition, production, delivery and ultimate rebirth through reuse or recycling, the playground product qualifies for Cradle to Cradle certification, an elite third-party-verified accreditation.

Q: What do I need to know to ensure I purchase the most sustainable playground equipment available?

A: Research manufacturers to see what type of green initiatives they have adopted. Find out if the company is LEED Certified and if their products are Cradle to Cradle Certified. Secondly, ask the manufacturer if they can supply you with a complete carbon footprint for their equipment. And lastly, contact your local equipment distributor. They will be able to advise you about the playground manufacturer they represent and their green initiatives.

Doing your homework now ensures that play spaces will be as green as the grass surrounding your playground for generations to come.


Playworld Systems: 800-233-8404