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Constructing a More Natural Swimming Pool
Swimming pools are probably one of the most offensive signs of conspicuous consumption to the die-hard environmentalist. Besides using far too much water, some of the materials that go into their construction are toxic to the environment.
While this may be the case, you aren’t going to be able to tell someone who has dreamed about having a pool for years that they can’t put one in because it is bad for the environment – the dream is simply too persuasive. What we can do is make sure that what they put in isn’t going to leave as large of a mark as it could.
I’m not here to tell you that swimming pools are environmentally friendly because that would be greenwashing of the highest order – just to give you a few tips that may help if you are building one anyway.
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Cover It Up
If you have a pool, purchase an easy-to-use solar cover for it to both accelerate solar heating and reduce water loss from evaporation.
Out of the three most popular swimming pool types, gunite, or concrete pools, come out on top as being the greenest. While not exactly environmentally friendly (no pool truly is), gunite is the most innocuous of the materials used to make pools.
Vinyl liner pools require a removable liner to be changed once every 8-10 years. The plastics and coatings used are harmful to the environment both in their manufacture and their disposal.
Fiberglass pools, being fiberglass, are not the most environmentally friendly option. When they degrade they may be patched but eventually the fiberglass will become too porous and the large piece of glass will end up in a landfill.
Both vinyl liner and fiberglass pools also incur high shipping costs, which uses valuable fossil fuels. Gunite can be mixed on site and so has a much lower carbon footprint.
Too many backyard pools remain unused, even during peak season. This is a serious waste of water. Invite people over to use it as often as possible – don’t let it go to waste.
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Natural Swimming Pools
This idea is really catching on in Europe, and a few have been installed in homes. A natural swimming pool is essentially a backyard pond that you can swim in, with natural aquatic plants providing the filtering system.
Fill It In
If you already have an existing swimming pool, considering taking it down or filling it in. Lakes and local community centers offer equally refreshing, and more environmentally friendly, options for your family.
Effectiveness / Result
As with any other industry, you’ll find a lot of greenwashing from the industries involved with pool construction. Business associations have even gone so far as to put together lists of reasons why pools don’t use that much water.
The average pool takes 18,000 to 20,000 gallons of water to fill, and needs constant refilling during the summer. While most of the water does remain in the pool over the winter, that’s a lot of water that could be going somewhere else.
- Sierra Club Report on Water Conservation
- Water Conservation Tips