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Shop Outdoors | Shop Indoors

Plastics in the Environment

Introduction

In days gone by, the materials used in the landscaping industry were completely degradable or recyclable, but for some unknown reason the landscaping industry seems to be heading towards a much less sustainable future. The introduction of Artificial Grass to the domestic market over the last ten years or so, has seen us start a path towards plastic products being used more and more in peoples gardens. You can now get plastic fencing and gates, garden sheds and even unbelievably Artificial floral walls which is a plastic sheet containing fake plants that you use to decorate your garden, low maintenance I agree, but is this really a look into the future of the landscape industry, I really hope not !


There seems to be some misconception that plastic products are a better long term solution due to greater life span, to some degree its true that plastic are lower maintenance, the problem lies when your plastic product starts to look like they need maintenance, you then realise that the conclusion is plastic products are almost un-maintainable and however much you try it ages poorly and its impossible to resort its original look. Wooden products do have a limited life span, but with some good care and maintenance can last for decades and stay looking good their whole life, I would say embrace the decay and understand the fact that things are not forever, its more important to protect what we have, than try in vain to maintain things in the same state forever.

plastic garden chairs

Recognise these chairs ? everyone had them, ever tried to do some maintenance on them ? decaying plastic is impossible to maintain, next stop landfill !


Our Companies Future

There are going to be some very tough choices that need to be taken in the coming years if we are going to make the move to a more sustainable future. Here at Natural Stone and Timber we are going to make some very difficult choices over the coming 12 months, we are starting with the complete removal of our artificial grass range, which to be honest has been a great product range for ourselves over the last 8 years and has sold in great volume, but it's time for change and if people stop selling plastic products hopefully the demand will reduce. As well as this we are going to look into more environmentally friendly membranes for ground stabilisation and weed suppression, we will keep you posted with any progress we make with these difficult issues.


Already we have made the conscious choice not to take on any new plastic products, and have already ruled out the following products:


Resin bound gravel, resins are not eco-friendly because they are the result of crude oil and the refining process. Both the collection of crude oil and production of resin is very harmful to the environment, plants, animals, and human populations.


Composite decking, many suppliers talk about the recycled content of composite decking which is all true but in the real world how is this plastic decking going to be recycled after it is no longer required? Is it practical to separate the plastic from the wood content ? or is there ever going to be a product that can be made from this mixed media product ? I really doubt it, therefore we have chosen to stay well clear of this product.


Plastic fences, gates and sheds, not only are these products in my opinion less attractive than their wooden counterparts, they are also manufactured from crude oil and are going to be extremely difficult to recycle and I tend to think will just end up in landfill for the next thousand years or so.


Artificial floral walls, people will look back at us and judge us on the decision we have made with knowledge we are causing damage to the environment, please let's not retail such harmful and in my option tasteless products.


This move towards plastic really does seem to be going against everything we are starting to understand we are doing to our planet, everyone needs to make greener choices in their everyday life and in my option the companies supplying these product need to take the lead role in educating its customers and not taking part in practises that we already know are harming our planet.


Conclusion

A garden should be an oasis that helps us relax and connect with the outside world, a place for wildlife to live and flourish, its also a place where we as consumers can have a great affect on the environment, does covering it completely with plastic really help you achieve this ideal, we believe not. Let us, as retailers, contractors and home owners, use and promote more sustainable products and start a path to something better, it's not going to be too difficult, we have been using these products for hundred of years already, we just need to stop using some of the new ones.


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