Ban All Peat Sales In The UK

 In Environment

Requests to ban all peat sales in the UK is far more contentious than it might sound. However, this peat extraction issue has been hanging around since the 1990’s and, for some of us, even earlier. Whatever, who would think that using such a substance could be so complex. The answer is that you don’t know gardeners as well as I do. Peat revolutionised growing plants by offering a standard, a highly reliable seed and potting compost. These were the John Innes mixtures created in the 1930’s. All gardeners and growers were trained to use these soil based composts, including myself. In recent years, multipurpose peat based composts have taken over. Peat is the perfect medium for seedling plants, much better than soil.

Old habits die hard

Gardeners, and I might add, farmers, can be the devil’s own job to change. That said, ‘nothing is as good as peat’ is a valid comment. However, using it has destroyed lowland peat bogs in Shropshire and Cumbria during my lifetime. Birds like curlew and peewit simply lost their habitat. Worse, once exposed to the air, the peat turns into carbon dioxide, a greenhouse gas. We simply have to stop using it. Alternatives like composts made from waste are available. For many horticultural companies it is just a matter of idleness. They can import peat and it’s readily processed and used. Why change the habit of a lifetime? Who cares about peat bogs in Russia anyway?

Ban all peat sales in the UK

The use of peat appears a relatively minor matter. Similar environmental damage results from other seemingly minor decisions which we refuse to change. Choosing cremation is one, maintaining a lawn is another. However, these decisions carry far more weight than we realise. They say so much about each of us as individuals. Do we live by a standard or not? Indeed, do we care about anything? It’s really all about personal integrity, about caring for future generations. If we protect peat, dump the lawn and choose natural burial, then we can all die in peace. How good is that!

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