On a recent trip to a garden centre for compost (Ericaceous – which we have found harder to make ourselves), we became very frustrated at the lack of peat free options. When asking a member of staff for help, they appeared oblivious to the issue and the reason for the question. Needless to say, we left empty handed on that occasion.
At home, we now aim to produce our own compost through two large compost bins and another dedicated solely to leaf mould.
After doing some research, we wrote to national chains including Dobbies, Homebase, Wickes and B&Q to ask why peat free options were so hard to come by online or in store. The only satisfactory response we received was from Dobbies’ CEO Graeme Jenkins, who said: Our aim is to be 90% peat-free during 2021 and 100% during 2022.” The others provided woefully robotic stock answers lacking any sensible commitments or targets. And, to be fair to Dobbies, if you are looking for regular compost they do already sell a number of peat free or reduced peat options.
Reasons to avoid peat
1. In the UK, peat lands and bogs store around 3.2bn tonnes of Carbon – around 20 times more than UK forests.
2. Despite covering just 3% of the Earth’s land, peat lands and bogs hold twice as much carbon as the planet’s forests.
3. These areas can have a long-term “cooling effect” on our climate.
4. They provide vitally important and intensively biodiverse habitats.
5. Extracting peat releases a huge amount of CO2 into the atmosphere.
6. Banning peat would have the equivalent effect of removing over 300,000 cars from UK roads.
7. 94% of the UK’s peat lands have already been damaged or destroyed. Things are not sustainable.
Our simple view is that the use of peat is wholeheartedly unnecessary and avoidable and there are suitable alternatives that should become mainstream as soon as possible.
Gardeners’ World host Monty Don has been campaigning hard on the issue. He criticised manufacturers and retailers for “actively choosing to do harm” and urged them to stop “sticking their heads in the sand” and to make climate change a priority, over profits and convenience. I wish him all the best with his quest. Hopefully he will be listened to.
What is the Government doing? I hear you ask. Well, back in 2010, the then Environment Secretary Hilary Benn unveiled a plan to ban the use of peat by 2020. Today, the Government has a target of 2030. Enough said.
For peat’s sake… (sorry, it had to be done!)
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