Consumers urged to avoid mushrooms and houseplants grown in precious peat
Today, The Wildlife Trusts launch a new campaign to raise awareness of hidden peat in retail products.
Many consumers are aware of the environmental dangers of using peat – both to wildlife and to the climate – and so they avoid buying peat-based composts. But some people may be inadvertently buying peat-based products without realising that it is often used as a growing medium for houseplants, leafy salads and mushrooms.
The Hidden Peat campaign will help to increase consumer understanding of peat-based products and help more people understand the pressures UK peatlands face, such as those in Somerset which are being dug up for use in horticulture.
In 2022, the UK Government announced that it would ban the sale of bagged peat compost in England by 2024.
Progress towards this has stalled and there is currently no legislation in place to achieve the promised ban. It is looking increasingly unlikely that the UK Government will enact a ban before 2025, the end of this Parliament.
Many consumers across the UK are now aware that choosing peat-free composts protects precious habitats and have made the switch to alternative growing mediums.
Major retailers including the Co-op and B&Q have already phased out sales of bagged peat compost in anticipation of a ban.
The UK Government has committed to bring about an end to all uses of peat in England by 2030 – but again, this will not happen without legislation.
Sara Booth-Card, peatlands campaigner for The Wildlife Trusts, says:
“We’re urging everyone to look carefully for ‘hidden peat’ when shopping – and to help keep peat in bogs not bags. It’s important that consumers are able to make informed choices about their food and plants until the ban on peat-based products is enacted. It’s also vital that the promise to ban peat-containing compost is met as soon as possible, because peatlands are crucial in our fight against climate change and are home to amazing plants and animals that are found nowhere else on Earth.”
The Wildlife Trusts are asking consumers to back the call for:
- Clear labelling to allow shoppers to easily identify peat-containing products, allowing them to make informed choices
- Transparency from retailers on their commitment to removing peat from their supply chains
Meanwhile, The Wildlife Trusts continue to call upon the UK Government to:
- Ban the extraction and sale of peat and peat-containing products
- Ramp-up ambition and action to restore the UK’s peatlands, 80% of which are currently damaged
Sara Booth-Card continues:
“Peatlands are the UK’s largest terrestrial carbon-store. They provide vital habitat for wildlife such as the UK’s very own carnivorous sundew plant, and sponge-like sphagnum mosses which can hold up to twenty times their own weight in water. Healthy peatlands not only deliver huge benefits for nature and for climate; they also provide important ecosystem services to our society. We’re convinced that consumers who care about wildlife won’t want to support a market where peat is used in other products, even inadvertently.”
Peatlands play an important role in holding back water during storm surges, which protects downstream communities from flooding, while also acting as a source for over 70% of the UK’s drinking water.
Healthy peatlands also act as natural filters, improving water quality and reducing the treatment required by water plants.
Research by The Wildlife Trusts revealed that peat extraction for use in horticulture has caused up to 31 million tonnes of CO2 to be released since 1990.
See The Wildlife Trusts’ Hidden Peat campaign at www.wildlifetrusts.org/ban-sale-peat
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