Three eco-friendly alternatives to turf athletic fields

Rachel Husband, Environmental Studies-Astrology Major

The upcoming installation of turf athletic fields has drawn deep, tumultuous lines between the “crunchy granola environmentalist kids” and the “sports kids” at Whitman College. Turf fields are notorious for having them good, sweet chemicals, which, yes, give athletes superpowers, but they also kill birds and fish. Strongly-worded emails have been written, tears have been shed and admin is frothing at the mouth to put some goddamn plastic in the ground.

Since Whitman has not conducted an environmental impact assessment for its desired turfication, it falls to me to offer up an olive branch before the student body tears itself apart. Here are three potentially more environmentally-friendly alternatives to turf.

  • Invasive plant species

All y’all granola mofos talk about is tearing up grass and replanting native grass species. Okay, well then name one species. You can’t, can you? What’re we going to plant if you don’t even know?

I instead propose that we redo the entire field with cheatgrass, yellow star-thistle and tumbleweeds. These lovely invasives are already abundant in our arid ecosystems and will make an excellent addition. No plastics, no harmful chemicals and athletes get to trample them with their cleats and whatnot. 

  • Broken glass

Because there is no glass recycling in Walla Walla, the best place to put your wine bottles is on the soccer field. Just throw them out there. Eventually, the glass will pile up and then ground into sand, which can be repurposed for use in the volleyball pits or the Sigma Chi basement. The risk of tetanus from broken glass is probably equivalent to the risk of cancer from turf.

  • Trampolines

Okay, I’m goofin’ a little with this one. Imagine regular soccer. But then, there’s a trampoline involved. The sport becomes infinitely more exciting and enjoyable. The materials for a turf field are exactly equivalent to those needed to make a bunch of trampolines and bury them underground. It’s doable. It’s fun; it’s exciting.