The Society of Garden Designers (SGD) has launched the ‘Say No to Plastic Grass & Plants’ Campaign to raise awareness of the extreme environmental damage caused by artificial grass and plants and to encourage the landscape industry and the public to seek environmentally friendly alternatives.
Following the overwhelming endorsement of SGD members, the Society has secured support from both the Royal Horticultural Society (RHS) and the Landscape Institute (LI) for the campaign, which aims to highlight that the exponential growth in the use of plastic grass and plants in recent years has had a devastating impact on the environment.
The SGD wants to draw attention to the loss of natural habitats caused by the decline in the quality of our gardens and green spaces. According to the WWF Living Planet Report in 2022, wildlife populations globally, have plunged by more than two thirds (69%) over the past 50 years with the UK ranking as one of the most nature-depleted countries in Europe.
Speaking on the launch of the ‘Say No to Plastic Grass & Plants’ campaign, SGD Co-Chair Lynne Marcus MSGD, said: “Every artificial grass lawn laid means one less living one, with devastating consequences for microorganisms in the soil beneath as well as the bugs and birds above. Compare that to a real lawn where a vast ecosystem of organisms, microbes, invertebrates, and plant life can thrive helping both the food chain and biodiversity. We are delighted that the RHS and the LI are supporting this campaign to help us inform and educate the public about the enormous damage caused by these products and their contribution to carbon emissions, the urban heat island and flooding and pollution of our waterways.”
As part of the campaign, the SGD has produced a downloadable leaflet that outlines the facts about plastic grass and plants and debunks the claims that these products are eco-friendly. The leaflet, which will be available to download from the SGD website, will provide information and advice on using sustainable alternatives such as low-mow lawns and drought-tolerant lawns as well as offering suggestions for the best type of lawn to use for play and as sports turf. The SGD has also produced a campaign tile (pictured above) for social media platforms and a campaign banner (pictured below) for supporters to use on website and email signatures. It is hoped that the campaign and supporting consumer literature will help to stop the proliferation of plastic grass, particularly in the quest for green lawns as the UK experiences increased drought conditions.
The RHS says that by educating people about the benefits of real plants and lawns or equally low maintenance alternatives such as permeable paving, they can inspire an approach that benefits people and planet, including contributing to urban cooling, flood mitigation and support for wildlife.
Mark Gush, Head of Environmental Horticulture at the RHS, said: “Plastic grass creates a sterile, lifeless area in the garden which has been shown to harm earthworms, exacerbate flooding risk, contribute to the heat island effect, and shed tiny plastic pieces, known as microfibers, which are harmful to the health of animals and people. By adopting a planet friendly gardening approach to design, we can help to mitigate the impact of climate change and promote biodiversity.”
The ‘Say No to Plastic Grass & Plants’ Campaign follows the SGD’s decision to ban advertising and sponsorship income from artificial grass and foliage suppliers in spring 2019 and the commitments the Society made in its Manifesto for Sustainable Landscape and Garden Design launched at the SGD Sustainability Symposium in 2022.
The RHS banned the sale of plastic grass at its shows in 2018 and as of 2022 artificial grass and plants were banned entirely from its shows, including those used for floor covering and stand dressings.
The Landscape Institute said: “Nature delivers countless benefits to human health, wellbeing, and society. But biodiversity is in decline. The Landscape Institute has declared climate and biological diversity emergencies to re-energise the landscape sector’s response to these global crises. By adopting a planet friendly gardening approach to design, we can help to mitigate the impact of climate change and promote biodiversity.”
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