According to Google Trends, which tracks the popularity of online searches, the desire for artificial lawns surged during the pandemic, with a 185%  jump in May 2020 compared with the same month the previous year.  In addition, a survey by Aviva revealed that 1 in 10 households in the UK have replaced their garden’s natural lawn with artificial grass over recent years, leading to the loss of the crucial natural habitats and ‘green corridors’ on which wildlife depend. More worryingly than this, figures released by the WWF Living Planet Report 2022 found that globally, wildlife populations have plunged by more than two thirds (69%) over the past 50 years with the UK ranking as one of the most nature-depleted countries in Europe.

With all this in mind, we have been working with the Society of Garden Designers to launch the ‘Say No to Plastic Grass & Plants’ Campaign. Partnering with the Royal Horticultural Society (RHS) for their wide consumer reach and the Landscape Institute (LI) for their industry clout, the campaign aims to debunk the claims often made by manufacturers that these products are harmless and to encourage the public to use beautiful, natural solutions instead.

As part of the preparation, we worked with a graphic designer to devise and produce a series of campaign tools including a downloadable leaflet outlining the detrimental effects the products have on the environment and offers suggestions for ‘green’ alternatives; a campaign banner for supporters who oppose the use of plastic grass and plants to display on their websites; and a social media tile to kick off support for the campaign on the day.  All of the tools were circulated to SGD members, affiliates, friends and through the supporting partners to spread the word as far as possible.

A wide-reaching press campaign launched on 13 March 2023 with targeted press releases issued to the gardening, property, consumer affairs and news editors and press coverage secured in  Mail Online, The Sun and BBC radio, among others.

The Society’s passionate co-chair Lynne Marcus, the driving force behind the campaign, said:

“Plastic grass is far from an eco-friendly alternative to natural grass. Covering your garden with a layer of plastic has absolutely no climate benefits at all.  It will suffocate the soil beneath it, destroy all sources of food and habitat and have devastating consequences for microorganisms in the soil beneath as well as the bugs and birds above. Compare that to a real lawn where a vast ecosystem of organisms, microbes, invertebrates and plant life can thrive, helping both the food chain and biodiversity, and it’s clear that there is absolutely no place on the planet for these products.” 

“Not only do plastic grass and plants have no climate benefits, they also cause plastic pollution, leak microplastics into waterways, cause flooding, contribute to urban heat islands due to the amount of heat they retain and contribute to greenhouse gas emissions in their production. We are all aware of the damage plastic bags do to the environment. Plastic grass & plants are no different.  We need to encourage everyone to see the beauty and benefits of using natural solutions instead.”

We wholeheartedly agree!