Friday, February 29, 2008

Cushioning Play with AstroTurf Carpet

Astroturf originally uploaded by julietverni.
Quick. What's your immediate reaction when you think 'astroturf?' [And, I'm not referring to astroturfing which is a total no-no in public relations, social media and marketing.]

If you're like me, possibly not so positive. At best something along the lines of scratchy, thin, plastic-y fake grass...

However, I've been reconsidering that perception ever since I noticed the really soft, plush and deliciously green grassy carpet that my daughter's school installed on the playground.

I became even more intrigued when I came across this article - The Little Georgia Town That Covers New York City in Turf by Deborah Kolben from 1/7/2008 - and I learned that Dalton, Ga [the carpet capital of the world] "has carved out a niche for itself as the manufacturer of New York's "grass" - the artificial turf that the city has been laying increasingly in parks and asphalt lots and ... public housing projects."

You see, I'm quite familiar with New York City and its so-called concrete jungle. I have first-hand knowledge of how hard and unforgiving many of those surfaces are. I've also seen some of what passes for park lawn... If it's off limits, it's a glorious site to behold. If it gets used, it resembles packed dirt more than grass. Anything offering additional cushioning has to be a plus.

The article continues "to date, the city has replaced 90 of its 800 grass or asphalt ball fields with artificial turf, and another 23 are scheduled for conversion." In fact, the city is "one of the biggest consumers of artificial turf in the country." Wow!

I decided to conduct research. After all, it is carpet and I remembered an additional connection...
...Which I found in's the history of synthetic grass or astroturf. Two scientists from Monsanto [the company from which Solutia was spun off in 1997] invented Astroturf.

Interestingly, the impetus for creating the product came from wanting to encourage young urban folks to become more physically fit. AstroTurf hit the big league when it replaced the Houston AstroDome's playing surface in 1966.

AstroTurf, the company, no longer has anything to do with Monsanto. And its products have become much more sophisticated and specialized, with turf choices available by sport as well as by product. There are even DIY residential options [i.e, AstroLawn] with 9 product lines to choose from [including a sample set]!

Although I'm noticing more relating to artificial grass [e.g., in Marco Island Capriers roll around on new carpet and in Kampala, Uganda, Carpet laid at Lugogo], I hadn't expected the extent of options or the breadth of adoption.

From a practical perspective, AstroTurf doesn't require:

- water [a plus particularly in parched parts of the world]
- pesticides [although you may require AstroShield]
- mowing [an absolute time-saver].

All these benefits in a lush, plush outdoor carpet. What better way to encourage and cushion outdoor play!

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