How to go peat free
The UK’s peatlands store around 3.2 billion tonnes of carbon. We get 70% of our drinking water from peatland river catchments. But sadly, more than 94% of the UK’s lowland peat bogs have been destroyed or damaged, and a wealth of wildlife along with it. Peat takes thousands of years to form as the plant material decays very slowly in wet conditions and gradually becomes compressed into peat - millimetre by millimetre.
Peat bogs are home to all sorts of colourful plants including colourful sphagnum mosses, insect-eating plants, and plants with names that Roald Dahl would have been pleased with such as butterwort and bog myrtle. They also provide an environment for rare dragonflies, spiders and other invertebrates and a feeding ground for birds such as the golden plover, meadow pipits and skylarks.
Peat bogs are home to plants with names that Roald Dahl would have been pleased with such as butterwort and bog myrtle
Going peat free:
Peat has been a major ingredient of compost sold for gardening for many years. This peat is dug out of wild places, damaging some of our last remaining peatlands here in the UK and overseas in places like eastern Europe. This process also releases carbon into the atmosphere, accelerating climate change.
But peat-free compost is available – if everyone used it our peatlands would safe from this type of damaging practice. It’s often not the first compost you see, or necessarily the cheapest, but if you ask most stores should stock it. By buying peat free you’re helping our precious peatlands and sending a message to manufacturers that people want peat free products. Both are really important.
An alternative to buying compost is to make your own, and it's surprisingly simple!