Playgrounds are where learning and enjoyment meet together. As parents, you only want what’s best for your children. Luckily, you can also choose what’s best for the planet.
Here are some tips in choosing an eco-friendly playground for your kids to enjoy:
Safety first. More than anything, safety is of utmost priority. With much vigor the children have when playing, accidents are likely to happen. Therefore, look for playground surfaces that are good shock-absorbers. A great example of this is recycled rubber mulch which is processed from recycled tires and is non-toxic and inflammable. They’re known to provide twice the amount of protection (a 6-inch thick filling could protect a fall height of up to 12 ft.) and due to their strong odor and texture, do not invite insects and animals (unlike sand which animals use as litter box). Plus, because of its density, it holds your playground in safety. Durability can last up to 10 years. Beware, though, some recycled rubber when not properly cleaned may contain pieces of wire harmful for children. Also, mulch pieces that are too small may present a choking hazard. Rubber mulch may cost twice as much and requires constant maintenance. On the upside, you can save up on drainage maintenance because of its excellent drainage system.
Choose the most qualified materials. High-density polyethylene (HDPE) is the base of recycled plastic which can be used in manufacturing recycled playground equipment. Most environmental playground companies make recyclable plastic lumbers (RPL) using in-house lumber extrusion and make use of post-consumer recycled materials such as plastic milk and water bottles. Unlike other conventional materials, RPL does not rust, splinter, break down, nor does it need any staining-maintenance or waterproofing. Combining it with strengtheners and UV stabilizers results to incredibly high tensile and compressive strengths. Such product result is known to be extremely sturdy with the recycled plastic even lasting to 100 years! That’s guaranteed to be enjoyed by your children, your grandchildren, and your grandchildren’s children!
Health is wealth. Best avoid playgrounds which consist of plastic containing Polyvinyl Chloride (PVC) as
“…(A)dded stabilizers, plasticizers and ﬁllers can leach and are potent hormone disrupters when ingested from little hands.”
Avoid lumbers which have been pressure-treated with Chromated Copper Arsenate (CCA), arsenic being a carcinogen linked to immune and cardiovascular diseases. RPL coloring is solid throughout unlike painted metal or steel in other playgrounds. Note that paint may harbour lead and ingested lead can cause damage in the brain and nervous system.
Look for something that’s easy to maintain. Should someone write or vandalize on your playground, here’s something to smile about: RPL resists graffiti. It’s protected from paint and ink too! Meanwhile for some recycled playgrounds faced with vandalizing dilemmas, it’s as easy as using sandpaper for buffing it out. Also, recycled playgrounds usually only require water and soap for cleaning. That’s hours and money saved on cleaning and maintenance!
Choose companies that are dedicated to quality and their cause. When looking for manufacturers, choose those that are dedicated to their craft with years of experience and consumer satisfaction to back it up. These are the guys you can rely on in terms of quality and integrity. Make sure you pick out those who are dedicated to their environmental cause, not using it for sole profit or advertising. You can bet these are the people who make sure they lessen their energy consumption and greenhouse gas emissions through HDPE recycling. Just to give you an idea, today’s HDPE recycling
“…saves 23.7 trillion British thermal units (BTUs) of energy – equivalent to the amount of energy consumed in one year by 125,000 American households. This savings equates to avoidance of 659,000 metric tons of carbon-dioxide – the emissions equivalent of 75 million gallons of gasoline.”
Fortunately, there are those who make sure they recycle the scraps they generate during production and use them to make packaging materials, for example, or have it sorted out for recycling elsewhere. I highly recommend those companies who use RPL in their playgrounds since RPL saves trees from being cut down for lumber and according to a report, a typical playground using RPL would’ve utilized about 31,500 to 63,000 water and milk containers. That’s A LOT of plastic saved from being dumped to landfills.
So before purchasing that kick-ass playground for your children, think about where it places (according to the above-listed tips). While putting your children’s safety ahead of everything else is perfectly reasonable, it wouldn’t hurt to think about the planet’s safety as well, once in a while.
Emily Harper is a busy housewife, and is also an active member of the neighborhood watch. She keeps her readers up to date with issues of sustainability and other home matters through writing. She lives with her husband, two sons and a cat named Theodore. To know more please check out her blog, SecurityOcean.Com.
I love, love love Zulily. Yes I have said it before. It’s still true. How else can I get great stuff for a fraction of the cost? AND because they have so many eco options I don’t have to feel guilty. After browsing today I formulated my wishlist for the summer months using all the stuff they have available right now. It changes weekly but it always good stuff. I just have to remember that for every new thing I buy, something old has to go!
Here is my Zulily Wishlist for the week. It centers around keeping the kids occupied during the summer and joining them in the fun if at all possible!
Bird Bingo – They have tons of educational games on sale and my kids would love most of them. Yet as much as my son would adore the Dinosaur Bingo I think the Bird Bingo is more practical for family play. Plus I really need to brush up on my bird names and learn to identify them. I have an irrational fear of birds, always have, so my lack of knowledge probably stems from that. I always say though that I wish I could identify more trees and birds. This game would help with that!
Taj Mahal & Maya Pyramid 3-D Puzzle Set – My oldest son loves puzzles and he loves travel. He has never had a 3-D puzzle though so I think he would get a real kick out of this. I would also love to put this together so maybe I need to get the Leaning Tower of Pisa and Statue of Liberty Kit or maybe the St. Peter’s Basilica 3-D puzzle.
Wildflower Bingo – Hours and hours of Bingo fun. After we learn about the birds we can learn about the wildflowers. Horsemint, Columbines, Firewheel, Antelope Horns, Eryngo…we will learn to identify them all. We already have a game that helps us identify herbs so this is right up our alley.
Blue Picnic Table Set – Okay so it is possible that this one is mostly for me but I am not feeling guilty about that. We want a small table and chairs set or a small picnic table that can be folded and put away for winter months. This fits the bill. It is made of aluminum and not plastic so that is a bonus too. If I had this I could send my kids outside to paint and craft, play games with their friends, and we could all eat messy summer foods like watermelon and barbecue ribs outside where the clean up can be done by turning on the hose. Now that’s what I am talking about.
Junior Bean Bag Toss Game – A great outdoor game for kids and I love to send my kids outside to play in the summer. I do work from home after all and it is a big adjustment for me to have a bunch of noise and chatter during my work hours. Bored with the trampoline eh? Not in the mood to hit the pool for the 5th time today? Break out the bean bag toss game. Gimme 10 minutes to finish this project and I will join you.
Looking forward to summer yet???
I feel it is imperative for me to share every sale or product that comes our way from the company Learning Herbs. Last month or so it was their new book series for kids called Herb Fairies but the gem I have been going on about for years now is called WildCraft. I have long been a fan of this herbal learning board game (read a full review here). We have two of them actually, one for our home and one for grandma’s house. I am thoroughly convinced this is the coolest game ever… no seriously… coolest EVER. This purchase was well worth the money, even if it was a hair pricier than CandyLand.
CandyLand is obviously centered around candy. I will pass thank you. Wildcraft is all about real, valuable knowledge and skills that are quickly getting lost in the shuffle. It is a gorgeous game that teaches the players all about herbs and how useful and helpful they are. The players are on a mission from grandma to go and pick wild Huckleberries. They have to go up and down a long winding path to get them and along the way they find herbs (plants cards) and they they even run into some trouble (trouble cards). Some of the trouble you find would include sore muscles, an earache, a toothache, a hornet sting, splinters, and much more. But thanks to the herbs you have been collecting along the way you may just have an herbal remedy to help you. Step by step along the game board kids (and parents) learn about various herbs and their practical applications in health and healing. I know I want my kids to think of nature and natural remedies BEFORE they think to grab a pill bottle and this game is a great introduction to that.
Okay, rave reviews aside this game typically only goes on sale once a year, during the holidays. But for the next couple days (until May 30th) you can get it for 50% off. That means you can secure one for less than $20. To make the deal even sweeter they are also giving buyers access to a cool webinar on Learning Herbs with Aviva Romm, M.D. called Outdoor Kids: Herbal First Aid for Summer. Plus:
* Dandelion Activity eBook
* Herbal Roots Zine Kids Activity Magazine
* The Herbal Gifts eBook. (Saves you more in gifts than you spend on the game.)
* Mentoring Kids & Nature Connection with Jon Young (mp3)
* Herb Fairies Activity Pack, with Book One and activity materials
Just wanted to share some amazing finds on Zulily today…all centered around an eco birthday. You can create your own Pinterest/magazine worthy birthday soiree for your little one AND be kind to the planet at the same time…
My favorite are the Mason Jar Sippers that can be paired with those adorable paper straws but they also have some little milk jugs… too cute!
See the other items on Zulily…
Each and every year I sing the praises of the Wildcraft Game from Herbal Learning. We have had our game for 4-5 years years now and love it still. It takes an educational topic (in this case medicinal herbs) and puts into a format that kids will not only enjoy, but adore…a board game. They have fun and play a great game while they learn about a very important subject that seems to be generally ignored nowadays. I think it is incredibly valuable to teach our children that plants can help us heal and be our medicine. This is old wisdom that we can all benefit from and that is why I love this vehicle for allowing allowing parents and kids to learn about medicinal herbs together.
Well, the same folks are now bringing another product to us for a very short time, just a few days in fact. I am more than a little excited about it!! It is called Herb Fairies and it is essentially a collection or resources and books that will teach children about medicinal herbs in more depth and with an element of storytelling. It seeks to get kids excited about plants and herbs early in life with these inventive and captivating stories about various fairies who trying to bring herb magic back to the mainstream. They get to read about the Lemon Balm Fairy and the Chickweed Fairy and also about the wonderful health promoting properties of these individual plants.
Kids see plants around them all the time but have they really connected with what they are and what they can do, or are they just green background material? This collection is ideal for parents who want their kids to learn more about plants and herbs in depth AND it would make an excellent addition to any homeschool curriculum.
You can visit the landing page to read about what you get and watch a video highlighting all the features but you essentially get 13 beautifully illustrated books (with audio versions included), a Magic Keeper’s Journal, coloring pages, recipe cards, a free subscription to the Herbal Roots Zine, and much more. They have already released some videos about the recipes found in the books such as Dandelion Flower cookies and Violet Candies, both of which your children can make using flowers they harvested themselves. It is only available for the next few days and then it retires until 2014 so make sure to check it out.