Sustainable Playgrounds: Good for the planet, best for kids
By Melissa Quinn, Playground (Development)
When you build playgrounds for a living, like we do, you spend a lot of time thinking about kids. What they like to do, what challenges them, what beneficial risk looks like, and ultimately the world we are collectively building for them.
These are heady thoughts about the future, the environment, the world – but they are critical! Simply put, it is why we choose to design and build timber playgrounds, and not metal and plastic ones.
WOOD PLAYGROUND = REDUCED CARBON FOOTPRINT
The demand for natural playgrounds is enormous. Every city, municipality, and town wants playspaces and naturalized areas. Wood playgrounds can provide both!
Cities are trying to reduce their carbon footprints and our playgrounds can help to do that too. By choosing wood means that the client is reducing their carbon footprint when compared to plastic or steel.
The lifecycle of wood means carbon is captured and stored; post-lifespan, wood will decompose and return to the earth. The good news is that wood playgrounds are increasingly being installed in cities around North America, following the European example where wood playgrounds have been the norm for decades.
Wood playgrounds make a lot of sense for a lot of reasons. The benefits are emotional and tangible, offering a natural connection to nature and the environment.
In addition, wood is:
- full of character
- easy to maintain
The species we use have been very carefully selected based on research and experience. Different types of wood are used in different structures for a variety of reasons: longevity, availability of sizes/dimensions, rot/insect resistance, ability to hold stain, etc.
Our wood sources are also very carefully chosen. Wood is the most sustainable choice for playgrounds because it comes from well-managed forests. Earthscape selects wood from FSC certified sources, areas with extremely progressive forestry practice codes, or from small local timber suppliers operating under US and Canadian federal or state regulations that require them to protect water quality, wildlife and soil.
“MADE IN CANADA”
Your playground is hand-built here, in North America, in our workshop in Wallenstein, Ontario, Canada. It’s hard to find Wallenstein on the map, but it’s there, in Waterloo Region, about one hour from Toronto.
MADE BY WHOM?
As a collective, our team is made up of landscape architects, designers, engineers, craftsmen, parents and big kids. People who spend their weekends out in the woods hiking, planning back-country canoe trips, visiting playgrounds with their kiddos, and digging in the garden. Our choices matter. Not just to us, but to our families, our communities and the world we live in.
WHY and HOW DO WE DO “SUSTAINABILITY”?
So how do we “walk the talk” for our kids? Well, we start by making commitments to always strive to improve. We look for ways to reduce waste within our manufacturing process, we offer offcuts free to the local community to be reused or repurposed (you should see the gorgeous furniture people have made!), we contribute to protecting and preserving local habitat with reforestation and park creation initiatives, and we commit to planting an additional tree for every one used in our playgrounds.
We want to be proud of our work. At Earthscape we believe in unstructured, non-prescriptive play opportunities, offering kids unsanitized play that is organic and whimsical. Graduated challenges build confidence and encourage creative problem-solving. Our designers are always thinking about inclusion, accessibility and safety – balancing these fundamentals with opportunities for physical, social and creative play. We are carving out spaces where kids’ imaginations can run free.