Good Grief. This is beginning to get on my nerves. Apparently, there is no area of consumer/government/manufacture interaction that is not rife with conspiracy theories and poor research.
We’re about to start building a playscape for x-boy. We’ve got a good idea of what we want and are now looking for reputable manufacturers and/or builders. Doing our research.
So, remembering that x-boy’s school has a very nice rubber surface underneath the playscape, I thought I would investigate that. Just for safety’s sake.
Research turned up the following. I make no claim to the accuracy of these comments. This is just what my research found on various visited websites, including manufacturers, suppliers, parenting and child-care forums, and blogs (ranging from no references to dozens).
My first thought was wood chips or mulch. It’s biodegradable, it’ll add to the pathetically thin soil in the backyard, and it’s cheap. Well, it’s also messy, sticks to clothing, causes splinters, and full of toxic chemicals and other plant poisons. There is concern about face-first falls and getting splinters in the eyes. OK, I can see some of that… what other options are there?
Next idea, rubber. That’s the ticket, recycled, good for the environment, soft, bouncy, etc. Turns out it’s government approved and regulated. Of course, it can also stink in high temps, it can get really hot in direct sun, it is slightly biodegradable (apparently, there are species of bacteria that consume tires), it’s either a great weed barrier or a terrible one. It can leach toxic chemicals from tire manufacture into children’s clothing. There are remains of steel wire in it, just waiting to punch holes through your child’s arm and into his heart. Oh, and it burns a treat and can’t be extinguished with water. And don’t forget about costs. This stuff is not nearly as cheap as a recycled material should be.
This is where most of the conspiracy theories come from. The conservatives are blaming the liberals for caring more about the environment than the children. The liberals are blaming the environment on the conservatives and trying to Save the World(tm) for the kids.
Well crud. What about gravel? I see it in a lot of the playgrounds around town. OMG!! I must be the worst parent ever for thinking about gravel. Child Care Services will probably put x-boy in foster care for me daring to consider price over his safety. Sure it’s cheap and it has great fall protection. But if I get the wrong manufacturer, I basically throwing my child into a giant vat of granite razor blades. Oh and the pebbles get in kids’ shoes too.
Of course, there’s no real use for playground quality gravel, except in playgrounds, so it’s obviously a conspiracy by the gravel manufacturers (???) to get rid of excess product (???). Oh, they get slick in the rain and weeds grow through them (apparently I’m the only person on the planet who has ever heard of barrier cloth).
Good grief. Fine, x-boy will get what I got. Dirt, maybe a little sand, and some grass… oh hell… can you see what’s coming now?
How dare you?!?! Don’t you see your child will fall the 4 inches from the bottom of the slide to the ground on his butt?!?! You fool, he’ll crack his coccyx and spend months in the emergency room and physical therapy learning how to walk again. Just to save some money, you bastard!!!11!111!!!!1! Oh, and grass stains are impossible to get out of clothes (unless you use one of those non-organic toxic clothing detergents, you fascist Earth hater!!!11!!!1!!!!).
Oh well. Grass, dirt and rock is what I had. If it’s good enough for me, it’s good enough for him. I turned out mostly OK, except for occasional diatribes at the insanity of modern culture.
BTW: Just in care you are curious, every statement directly regarding a playground material was found out in the wilds of the intertubes. I’m not making it up.