The release of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change's 5th assessment has again reiterated the need for every nation to do more to tackle its carbon emissions. There is no silver bullet which will solve the pressing problem of climate change. Incremental steps are necessary to reduce our greenhouse gas emissions. A small, but simple step we could take is to reduce our carbon footprints is in the garden.
George Orwell called England a nation of flower lovers. Since the 1950s British gardeners have been using peat to grow their beloved flowers and plants. Commercial extraction of peat in Britain has released sequestered carbon, leading to resplendent gardens and blackened, dead peatlands. Despite the UK Government's efforts, amateur gardeners remain the biggest users of peat, using on average 2 million cubic metres each year with most bags of soil sold at garden centres containing up to 70 per cent peat.
Gardeners do not need to rely on this finite source to grow their gardens. Effective, peat-free alternatives exist so we can cut our carbon emissions without cutting corners in gardening pursuits. One of these examples is composts and soil conditioners manufactured from green and food wastes which are collected from your doorstep.
Did you ever wonder what happens to all that waste once the refuse vehicle has left your kerbside? Well, let me explain it to you. It is taken to a central site where the natural microorganisms that are present in the waste transform those garden leaves and trimmings into organic matter (humus) and natural fertilisers which will ensure the quality and fertility of the soils in our gardens is maintained or even improved. These soils, in return, will give us healthier plants, tastier fruits and will sink some of the carbon emissions produced by our households. That is a fully closed loop which embraces the circular economy model that is so paramount if we want to tackle climate change and our production/manufacturing models.
I am particularly proud of Veolia's work in developing the Pro-Grow soil conditioner. Not only is this a sustainable option, but it supplies gardens with an organic and natural fertiliser, rich in nutrients, microelements and organic matter.
Dr Paul Alexander from the Royal Horticultural Society said "we think most gardeners would prefer to grow plants without doing environmental damage." I am inclined to agree. Indeed the climate change problem is the result of an expansive series of unintended consequences. Small changes in our behaviour can have a huge positive impact on our efforts to address climate change. We cannot expect our amateur gardeners to make this transition if they are not aware and informed of the impact of their purchases.
In every garden centre, rows of bags heavy with soil, fertilizer and compost declare themselves to be 'environmentally friendly', 'organic' and with 'reduced peat'. Dr Alexander says these labels misinform customers on the actual cost of the product they are purchasing. Attempts to communicate to customers the real cost of what they are purchasing is of course not unique to the garden centre. But we believe that gardeners have the potential to make a tremendous contribution to carbon reduction with a simple choice at the till. Who better to lead the green movement than those with green fingers?
The Government aims to eliminate peat from the amateur garden market by 2030. We support them in this goal. We are confident that gardeners will also support them, so their gardens can blossom and bloom both for their enjoyment and for many generations to come.
If you are interested in understanding how composts are manufactured from green waste you can visit our website at www.pro-grow.com where we will take you through the peat free journey.