Even after several months of collecting and documenting tufts of synthetic turf leaking from a sportsfield installation by the Darebin Creek, it still came as quite a shock to find some had made its way to St Kilda beach. Fake grass is just another example of tiny bits of plastic that, because of their insignificant size and mobility, escape attention of building site managers.
Fake grass appeals to land managers beceause it avoids the expense of mowing and watering. Compared to real grass, it can get 40% hotter than air temperature in summer, provides no habitat for birds and insects; and once leaked into waterways, adds to the cocktail of plastic pollution compromising our food chain. On the evidence so far, it’s clear we need an honest appraisal of the environmental cost of fake grass; a life-cycle analysis in comparison to natural grass. Meanwhile, land managers need to lift their game to prevent the stuff from escaping; and Baykeeper would welcome a call from anyone interested in being involved in monitoring local patches of fake grass with a view to combining ongoing survey results.