Living in a neighborhood with a pool means that much of our lives has revolved around swimming. Swim practice, swim lessons, swim meets, Friday night happy hour, playdates…you name it, the pool was involved. Pools are not particularly eco-friendly…they use large volumes of water, harsh chemicals, and there is a lot of green space lost to the cement pool deck. I wish there were more environmentally friendly swimming pools in our area but haven’t found any so far.
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If you have a pool in your own backyard, you can control its’ carbon footprint quite a bit. A green pool really is a GOOD thing as long as you are talking about sustainability and not algae! If you are considering building a natural pool, do your research to make sure you make the best choices for both you AND the environment.
Environmentally Friendly Swimming Pools
There are more than 7 million private swimming pools in America today. Up from 2,500 in America in 1950! Swimming pools require chemicals such as disinfectants and sanitizers to control the growth of certain kinds of algae and bacteria in the pool water. Chlorine-based chemicals are the most common.
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There are lots of swimming pool chemicals and some are definitely safer than others. If you want to really freak yourself out and never go to the pool again, you can read all about the long term health effects of chlorinated water. It is rather frightening given the amount of time my kids have spent in pools.
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Green Pool Tips
If you want to reduce the carbon footprint of your pool, here are a few tips that might help.
- The typical uncovered pool in Arizona loses 4 to 6 feet of water a year to evaporation. Pool covers go a long way in reducing water loss! Covers can reduce water loss by 30 to 50 percent and reduce chemical consumption by 35 to 60 percent.
- Pools are energy hogs…If you have a pool, here are 8 ways to conserve water and electricity. In colder climates, use a dark cover to take advantage of solar heat! Don’t run the pool year round if you aren’t using it. If you need to use the filter or vacuum, run them on off-peak hours. You will save money and reduce your carbon footprint.
- Install a water-saving pool filter.
- Install landscaping to help reduce evaporation. Large shrubs will provide privacy AND prevent hot, dry winds from sucking away moisture! Check out my post on how to create a peaceful backyard space for more outdoor landscaping ideas.
- Use a ‘green’ pool cleaning service. Some companies are much more eco-friendly than others, do some research in your area to find one you are comfortable with.
- Install a salt water pool! They have slightly lower evaporation rates and use fewer chemicals than traditional chlorinated pools
Are natural pools safe?
Depending on the type of natural pool you are installing, it may not ‘look’ like a traditional swimming pool. However, natural pools are totally safe for swimming. The water may not be that bright blue/green you are used to, however, sustainable swimming pools are totally safe to swim in when properly maintained. And swimming is a great way to get in shape for summer!
Environmentally friendly swimming pools aren’t as common as traditional chlorine-based pools, however, they are healthier for both you AND the planet. If you are planning on installing a pool in your backyard, consider putting in a green pool for a smaller carbon footprint!
Have any other tips for environmentally friendly swimming pools?
Diane has a Bachelor’s degree in Microbiology with a Minor in Health Management and Policy. She spent many years working in cancer research, academics, and biotechnology. Concern over the growing incidence of human disease and the birth of her children led her to begin living a more natural life. She quickly realized that the information she was learning along the way could be beneficial to many others and started blogging as a way to share this knowledge with others. While passionate about health and the environment she can’t quite give up her favorite Cheetos and Diet Coke! Learn more about her HERE.