Greening Your Playground
ecreation organizations of all kinds, from city park agencies to school districts and YMCAs, have been increasingly focused on improving their environmental footprint. Part of that mission includes sourcing equipment for parks and facilities that is a little friendlier to the earth. When you focus on greener playgrounds for children, you can both serve your eco-friendly mission and teach kids about the importance of protecting the environment.
Q: We have decided to focus on greening up our park elements, and we're looking for an environmentally friendly playground solution. What should we know?
A: You can make a major impact when you invest in recycled materials, and playground manufacturers have taken advantage of the array of materials available to help you find what you need. 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 teach the children using our playground about its green aspects to ensure the message is carried on from one generation to the next. What should we do?
A: You can start passing along your green message before your playground is installed. How? By getting the students or children who will use the playground involved from the beginning.
Talk to local children 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 for the new structure. With the interest you generate, 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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