How to go peat free
The UK’s peatlands store around 3.2 billion tonnes of carbon and we get 70% of our drinking water from peatland river catchments.
Peat bogs are home to all sorts of 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 golden plover, meadow pipit and skylark.
Peat bogs are home to plants with names that Roald Dahl would have been pleased with, such as ‘butterwort’ and ‘bog myrtle
But sadly, more than 94% of the UK’s lowland peat bogs have been destroyed or damaged, and a wealth of wildlife has disappeared along with it.
This vital habitat isn't easily replaced: peat takes thousands of years to form as the dead plant material that builds up to make it decays and compresses very slowly and under particular, wet conditions.
Going peat free:
Peat has been a major ingredient of the compost used in gardening for many years. This peat is dug out of wild places, damaging some of the last remaining peatlands in both 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 actions are really important.
Alternatively, you could make your own compost – it's surprisingly simple!