Make your local playground eco-friendly

Joan Bryna Michelson, special to

WASHINGTON - D.C. Mayor Vincent Gray recently broke ground for Play DC, a playground improvement project that will renovate 32 of the city's 78 playgrounds.

Since kids run on, lay on, climb on and jump on playground equipment, the District's new project prompted Green Connections Radio Chief Executive Officer Joan Michelson to discuss eco-friendly playgrounds.

What is eco-friendly playground equipment?

Eco-friendly playground equipment is made from recycled materials, is non-toxic and also complies with the Consumer Product Safety Commission's playground safety codes.

From the raw materials, to the manufacturing process and even the life of the materials after they done being used, eco-friendly playgrounds safeguard those who make the playground equipment and those who use the equipment. In addition, pro- environmental play spaces protect the health of the planet.

Since schools and neighborhoods typically renovate playgrounds during the summer months, here are some tips or recommendations you can make to your local playground renovation team.

Safety First

Check the Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) website for the playground safety guidelines and checklists, which are considered "the Bible of the industry," according to Patty Davis of the CPSC.

The surface kids walk on and the weight-bearing capacity of the structure are the top safety issues in playgrounds. Estimate how many kids of what age and size will be playing on the space at once to gauge your weight-bearing needs.

Make sure the playground is age appropriate. There are different needs for kids ages 2-5 (a "tot lot") than for kids ages 5-12. Different ages require different types of stimulation and muscle use.

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