Our skewed definition of eco-friendly

Climbing Daddy and I were talking about mulching a small part of the back yard and got to talking about wood versus rubber mulch.

I’m generally not a fan of rubber mulch. It’s made from tires and has all kinds of crap in it that’s not good for plants and not good for kids to play in, depending on the context.

But wood mulch invites critters, including wood-eating critters, which is not desirable. And the area is against a wood fence, which seems like it would amplify wood-eating-critter problems. So I figured I’d look to see what I could find out. Most of what I found I already knew or otherwise expected.

One site giving Five Reasons to Use Rubber Mulch had Environmentally Friendly coming in at number four. I’m going to break it down here.

“First and foremost, rubber mulch cuts down our dependence on wood for landscaping. While wood mulch suppliers strive to use sustainable methods to produce their products, harvesting trees is a necessary part of the process.”

Not cutting down trees is a good thing. We need more trees. With all of the wood that’s thrown away, I wonder if we could reduce the number of trees cut down for mulch with new wood disposal programs, if that is an environmental concern.

“Rubber mulch does not use any trees. Instead, rubber mulch is produced entirely by recycling a toxic waste product. By using a recycled product instead of a new product, you contribute to the waste tire solution.”

So … waste tires are a problem. I’m not necessarily convinced that shredding them into small pieces and distributing them is the best solution.

And taking “a toxic waste product” and cutting it up gives you recycled toxicity, and toxicity in places where there otherwise would be none.

But this is the part that killed me:

“Landscapers that use rubber mulch can earn points through the Leadership in Energy and Environment Design (LEED) program. Under the Green Building Rating Program’s oversight, the goal of this program is to encourage and reward sustainable building practices.”

Using a toxic byproduct in your garden or on your playground is “sustainable”? 

I’m speechless. (Well, relative to writing a blog post about it haha)

Maybe figuring out a way to reduce or eliminate waste tires in the first place would be more ideal than championing reusing them after the fact.

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