Choose Eco-Friendly Materials
When it comes to selecting materials for site furnishings, an increasing number of parks and other site owners are looking for ways to improve their environmental footprint. From picnic areas to playgrounds to ballfields and beyond, there is a wealth of high-quality furnishings available, and there are more eco-friendly options than you might realize.
Q: We are looking for furnishing options that are eco-friendly, and are considering recycled plastic. What should we know?
A: Recycled plastic furnishings are a great choice, when it comes to earth-friendliness. From benches and picnic tables to receptacles and more, they provide durability and sustainability while being maintenance-free. Constructed with a minimum of 96 percent post-consumer/industrial materials such as milk jugs, pop bottles and plastic bags, recycled plastic is graffiti-resistant, won't crack, fade, rot or splinter, and is an eco-friendly solution for your site.
Q: We want to ensure our site furnishings are eco-friendly, but we'd prefer something other than recycled plastic. What are some other eco-friendly materials for site furnishings that we should know about?
A: Recycled plastic is a popular earth-friendly choice for site amenities, but it isn't the only earth-friendly material available. Aluminum, steel and even concrete also can be an eco-friendly option. How? All of these materials can be recycled at the end of their use. What's more, these materials are extremely durable and long-lasting, and a long life-cycle means less waste.
Aluminum is an affordable option that is easy to move, which will make it simple to reconfigure your site while avoiding the waste replacing your existing furnishings. Aluminum is also 100 percent recyclable and is corrosion-resistant.
Steel is sturdy and durable, but can be subject to oxidation. Because of this, it is generally finished, either by galvanizing or with a thermoplastic coating. Thermoplastic coatings are available in a variety of colors. If you want the most eco-friendly steel option, know that powder-coating has the lowest impact. And, the steel can be recycled at the end of its useful life at your site.
Due to its heavy weight, concrete is an ideal choice in locations where vandalism is a concern. Like aluminum and steel, it also can be recycled, and if you want to go even greener, you can look for concrete table tops and seats in a polished terrazzo that contains 100 percent recycled ground glass aggregate, which is available in an array of beautiful colors, further enhancing the aesthetics of your park or site.
Q: What else should we consider to ensure our site furnishings are as eco-friendly as possible?
A: No matter what material you choose, if you ignore routine maintenance requirements, it will reach the end of its lifecycle sooner than expected. Ensuring a long useful life through proper maintenance means fewer replacements, which is a smart way to stay green.
Talk to your manufacturer about the conditions at your site, including prevailing climate, site traffic and your ability to handle routine maintenance—all of which should have an impact on the material you ultimately choose.
Furnishings that will be exposed to the weather need to be able to handle that exposure. Sites that experience heavy traffic will require hard-wearing materials. And if you are challenged to handle ongoing maintenance, you should look for materials like aluminum, coated steel and concrete.
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