Cut your carbon footprint with peat free compost
If you enjoy gardening, you may have noticed that peat free compost is becoming more widely available. Peat has been popular with gardeners and commercial growers since the 1960s but this has led to the destruction of many acres of peat bogs in the UK. We now know that maintaining our peat bogs is vital to fighting climate change, so it is advised that we all switch to peat free composts.
What is peat free compost?
It is growing media that doesn’t contain peat. Peat free growbags and compost are a more sustainable alternative and they can contain composted bark, wood fibre, coir, sheep’s wool, comfrey or green compost instead. Peat free seed compost is also available and you can request plants that have been grown in peat free compost at the garden centre too.
Why is peat bad for the environment?
Peatlands store twice as much carbon as forests and they provide a unique habitat for thousands of species of insect, plants, mosses and lichens. When peat is extracted, drained or burned, the carbon it holds is released into the atmosphere and this makes up more than five per cent of our global carbon emissions.
Additional damage is caused by the fact the peat is no longer in the ground absorbing carbon and of course, the thousands of species that lived there are either destroyed or lose their home.
The UK has lost 94 per cent of its lowland raised peatbogs and only around 6,000 hectares remain in perfect or close to natural condition.
In 2021, a third of the compost in the UK contained peat according to the Horticultural Trades Association (HTA). The HTA quoted these figures in its response to the government consultation into ending the sale of peat compost to amateur gardeners by 2024 and to commercial growers by 2028.
The government estimates that banning peat compost would cut CO2 emissions by 4 million tonnes over the following 20 years. The gardening industry was previously given the goal to voluntarily end sales of peat compost by 2020, but the target was missed. Hopefully, the proposed ban in 2024 will be enforced and will help to protect our precious peat bogs.
Some retailers, such as the Co-op and Dobbies, have already banned peat compost and B&Q say they will do the same by 2023. Dalefoot, Sylvagrow, Carbon Gold and New Horizon all make good peat free compost.
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