Playgrounds are all about keeping children healthy. Only 43% of 6 to 11-year-olds in the US get enough exercise, but playgrounds provide a fun and effective way to get their bodies and minds moving.
However, when building playgrounds to optimize children’s health, we often forget our obligation to the health of the environment. Luckily, a conscientious designer can build a custom playground that helps both kids and the environment. For an earth-friendly playground adventure, follow these three tips :
- Don’t Stop at Trash BinsThough many playgrounds and parks are kind enough to supply trash bins to prevent littering, many forget or choose not to place recycling bins around the playground. Look for receptacles with two compartments for both waste and recyclable materials. You can even include a cans and bottles bin if your area offers cash for returnables. For popular playgrounds near community gardens or flowerbeds, a compost bin might even be a great choice for minimizing waste and maximizing ecological benefits.
- Build with Recycled MaterialsAt first glance, outdoor playground equipment can seem like an oil-wasting nightmare. The bright, synthetically colored hard plastics of huge playground climbing walls may seem like every conservationist’s nightmare. Some playgrounds aren’t quite so harmful– for example, wooden playgrounds have made a comeback as a sustainably-sourced outdoor playground material. However, even plastic playgrounds can be more eco-friendly. Ask custom playground builders if they offer styles made with recycled plastic materials and if their equipment can be recycled again when it eventually goes out of use. Finally, practice good maintenance strategies so that your playground never sees a landfill.
- Work with NatureA good practice for an eco-friendly custom playground is to incorporate design elements that cause minimal habitat damage. For example, leave as many natural trees, bushes, and shrubs untouched as possible. Create run-off piping so that rainwater is redirected to irrigate surrounding landscape. Finally, if the playground requires nighttime lighting, request solar options or energy-efficient LED bulbs to illuminate the area without wasting precious energy.
From eliminating litter to reducing landfill waste to upholding sustainable practices, these strategies can help build an ethical play area. Through creative and smart design practices, your custom playground can encourage healthy growth for everyone, including the flora and fauna!