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Can greens be green? Environmental critics of golf courses cite their substantial water consumption (some courses use over 100,000 gallons of water a day); heavy use of pesticides, insecticides, and fertilizers; their destruction of natural habitats; and the.

Can greens be green?


Environmental critics of golf courses cite their substantial water consumption (some courses use over 100,000 gallons of water a day); heavy use of pesticides, insecticides, and fertilizers; their destruction of natural habitats; and their development of agricultural lands among the reasons why "greens" aren't (environmentally) green.

However, the Royal Canadian Golf Association, the governing body of amateur golf in Canada, has developed environmental guidelines intended to make golf a more eco-friendly sport. The recommended guidelines for course designers and developers encourage developing courses outside of agricultural zones, minimizing impact on existing ecology and habitat, and protecting water quality. Golf course management should include looking for alternatives to chemical pest control and limiting water use to the needs of plants.

Throughout Canada, more than 25 golf courses have become certified as Audubon Cooperative Sanctuaries. To become certified, courses must document environmental stewardship in six areas: environmental planning, outreach and education, wildlife and habitat management, integrated pest management, water conservation, and water quality management. When the golf course has met certification standards in all six categories, it is designated a "Certified Audubon Cooperative Sanctuary." For more information, visit acssc.ca/golf.htm.

Does biodegradable mean environmentally healthy?


"Biodegradation" is defined as "the destruction of organic compounds by micro-organisms." A biodegradable object&a leaf, for example&is broken down by bacteria in soil or water into its component elements: carbon dioxide, water, and minerals.

But what if the object isn't natural but rather made of a synthetic substance such as a petroleum-based plastic? While crude oil itself will eventually biodegrade, plastics don't because no micro-organisms exist that can consume and break them down.

The plastics industry, however, is developing plastics that are degradable (plastics that break down under certain conditions but leave waste products that are not digestible by micro-organisms), biodegradable (plastics that micro-organisms can eventually break down), and compostable (plastics that biodegrade in a manner similar to natural compostable materials such as garden waste).

The issue of whether biodegradable substances are always environmentally friendly is further complicated when we talk about quantities and conditions. Soap, which may biodegrade in small quantities in fresh, running water, will not easily do so when disposed of in massive quantities. Newspaper, when exposed to soil bacteria, water, and air, ordinarily biodegrades within two to five months, but when buried in landfills may still be in readable condition 25 years later.

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