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Harringay, Haringey - So Good they Spelt it Twice!

Big retailers in Haringey are still selling garden compost containing peat, according to a local Friends of the Earth survey. Peat is a great carbon-sink but digging it up releases the carbon and adds to climate change. According to The Wildlife Trusts, average annual UK peat sales would fill 29,000 large shipping containers and could release up to 850,000 tonnes of Carbon Dioxide .

Peat bogs are also a great wildlife habitat for birds, butterflies, dragonflies and plants.

The government has finally agreed to ban sales of peat-containing compost from the beginning of 2024, and some responsible retailers have already stopped selling it, offering peat-free alternatives instead. But some are still selling it, putting short-term profit before the planet.

Worst of the bunch was Wilkos at Tottenham Hale which was selling two kinds of compost with 40% and 70% peat content, and offering no peat-free alternative.

Next was Homebase at Green Lanes which was selling varieties with 51% and 100% peat, but at least offered an alternative; and Alexandra Park Garden Centre which sold varieties with 35, 45 and 60% as well as a variety of peat-free brands.

B&Q has largely withdrawn peat-based products and has lots of alternatives but was spotted selling John Innes No3 compost with 50% peat.

As far as we could see Tesco, Asda, and Sunshine Garden Centre only sold peat-free brands, but we welcome reports from the public on any peat products they see in the borough.

 Local Friends of the Earth activist Pamela Harling said

 “Retailers have had many years of warning that digging up peat is as bad as cutting rainforests, but have dragged their heels on phasing it out. We congratulate those stores that only offer peat-free alternatives. We call on the others to stop selling this destructive product now, for peat’s (and the planet’s) sake.”

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Both compost (soil) products that Wilko presently sell contain products that are 'grown from sustainable sources' and are stated as 'peat free'. Is this post about a previous (now obsolete) batch, or one containing peat that is presently on sale?. This post starts with a statement that big retailers 'are' selling compost containing peat but the naming and shaming of companies states 'was' or 'were' selling products containing peat which would leave me to believe that they don't any more, making me wonder about the true purpose of this post.

These were the products ons ale when we visited. The purpose is twofold, to encourage people to buy peat-free alternatives, and to encourage the shops to stop selling peat-based products.

Thanks Quentin - it's shocking that after decades of evidence about the damage that peat extraction is doing, we still have shops selling it.

Many years ago, peat was identified by scientists as an almost perfect horticulture growing medium and gradually came into widespread use.

It is light, weed free, disease and pest free. Has excellent air and water holding capacities and is totally organic.

In recent years ,the effects of peat harvesting on climate change have been identified and the horticulture industry has been making determined efforts to reduce and eliminate peat. This change could not happen overnight but peat is rapidly being eliminated from retail growing media and should be gone by 2024.

However, the alternatives are not all as virtuous as we wouldd like them to be:

Coir (Coconut fibre) is a useful alternative, but it is harvested in dubious and sometimes dangerous conditions in Asia and incurs an additional carbon footprint on its journey to Europe.

Wood fibre of course is derived from processing timber. This involves the felling and harvesting of trees. Is this timber always originating from constantly renewable resources?

Composted Greenwaste when properly prepared can be a reasonably good material. But when produced on an industrial scale it can be of dubious quality and even dangerous - containing weeds, disease, glass, debris etc. However there should be sufficient quantities available.

So, like all climate/environmental issues there are pros and cons and "solutions" will bring their own issues.

But soon peat will be gone and our gardeners, our gardens and our greenhouses will all have to adapt!


I seem to remember that people had sewage waste delivered, it must have stunk neighbourhoods out. 



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