environment+paper green fields

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Kody Kunkle
Mrs. Dengler
English 9 H
9 December 2009
Fight in the Ground
Remember back when the Oakland Raiders and the Pittsburgh Steelers had a heated
rivalry. Whenever they crossed paths, they would both bring it and put on a show. Well the same
concept applies to a battle that is going on right now, the fight between artificial turf and natural
grass. This brawl over the past years has been dominated by natural grass, but making a
comeback is artificial turf. Both of these field turfs have their own strengths and weaknesses, but
the winner is the one who impacts the environment in a better way.
Starting off with the strengths, both have materials that have green distinct. Natural grass
is just made of grass, which helps make oxygen and cool down the air (Patton). Artificial turf is
made of recyclable tires, along with plastic, also recyclable, and sand to act like the ground
(Koch). The recyclable materials in the turf helps create less landfills, which helps the garbage
problem (Query). Another positive about natural grass is that it drinks up the water and
pollutants in the soil. Artificial turf doesn’t have to rely on pesticides to keep its nice green color.
Homes for animals like birds and insects, as well as plants, are provided by the grass fields (“A
New Turf War/Synthetic Turf in New York City Parks”). Artificial turf ends up living the
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longest which helps reduce costs and maintenance in the long run. Both players and the
environmentalists hop on the bandwagon of artificial turf being a mighty alternative to grass
fields. Even some New York city schools continue replacing the old natural grass fields with
newer, cheaper artificial turf (Query). A nice, little thing about the artificial turf is that it doesn’t
need to be mowed or watered, which saves gasoline, a resource that is running out in the world.
Most of New York City is starting to replace not only natural grass fields, but also asphalt, with
artificial turf (“A New Turf War/Synthetic Turf in New York City Parks”).
Moving on to the weaknesses, it is believed that artificial turf can cause body problems
for humans. Whenever the turf gets hot, it starts to create chemicals that start to annoy the eyes,
or what is better know as eye irritation, as well as carcinogens, which can cause cancer. The
crumbs in the turf start to leak zinc into the ground when soaked, which can affect our ground
and soil water. Connecticut schools have halted plans for artificial turf fields, unlike Larchmont,
New York, which continued plans for artificial turf in a park (Query). Alderman and EHHI agree
that field plans should be stopped until proven safe. According to Shawn Query, Alderman
quoted, “Before we spend all this money, and possibly endanger children’s health, let’s find out
more.” But pediatric endocrinologist, Holly Schachner, disagrees and points out more problems
that we should be worrying about with the children. According to Shawn Query again, Schachner
stated, “Obesity is a bigger problem [for children].” Schachner backs it up reasoning that there is
no current evidence that proves that crumb rubber is a cancer causing piece of material. Other
harmful body problems that can happen to players are infection, latex allergy, and chemical
exposure. This could be because the turf is made of human-harmful materials. A downside on
artificial turf is also how hot it becomes. The average temperature is usually over a hundred and
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thirty degrees, but sometimes it can reach a disco inferno two-hundred degrees. The scorching
heat puts more stress on players and workers of the field (Koch). In New York City, the Urban
Heat Island effect has taken its toll, making the city seven degrees warmer than its surrounding
areas (“A New Turf War/Synthetic Turf in New York City Parks”). Also, the garbage problem
still doesn’t get much help from artificial turf. It only lasts ten years before it gets packaged into
a truck, and thrown into the dump, probably ending up in the trash heaps on the islands outside
of New York City. One of the very few downsides for natural grass is the use of pesticides and
all that other nasty grass care products. These are used to keep weeds from killing the field, and
to make the field look better than the rivals, making those enemies extremely jealous. The other
downside is the water that needs to be used to keep the grass growing. But then again, water is
used to cool down the scorching heat of the artificial grass (Patton).
Now in review, the battle between natural grass and artificial turf is close. Both sides
have their own strengths and weaknesses. Do humans want to go with the environmental friendly
natural grass or the nicer looking, cheaper artificial turf? My first experience with artificial turf
didn’t bode well, as it threw its little, black rubber pieces into my shoes, making it feel really
annoying when walking or running. But at a glance, natural grass is the better option. Not only is
it not hurting the environment as much, but it helps it as well. And that’s more important than
buying a cheaper brand in the long run that doesn’t last that much longer.