Gardeners have been urged to avoid buying peat products when they head out to garden centres this weekend.
The four-day Easter break is traditionally one of the busiest times for sales of peat products but the RSPB has appealed for gardeners to steer clear.
The conservation charity says that as well as destroying a rare wildlife habitat, peat extraction causes pollution by releasing carbon dioxide that was stored in the ground.
The RSPB says it’s concerned that gardeners may not be aware of the damage they are doing by using peat and may even think it is a ‘green’ product.
RSPB Conservation Director Dr Mark Avery said: ‘Knowing that using peat makes climate change worse, when added to the appalling destruction of wetland wildlife from peat extraction, must surely sound the death knell for this environmentally damaging product.
‘All gardeners – and gardening businesses – who have any regard for the environment should make the switch to peat-free this Easter.’
However, Gardening Which? tests in January found there’s still a gulf between the performance of peat-free and peat-based composts for growing young plants from seed.
New Horizon Organic and Peat Free Grow Bag was the only peat-free compost deemed to be a Best Buy for growing on young plants.
Variable results in quality between bags of the same compost bought from different parts of the UK meant it wasn’t possible to make any peat-free compost a Best Buy for sowing seeds.
Gardening Which? Editor Ceri Thomas said: ‘Compost manufacturers really need to up their game if they are going to produce compost that can balance the needs of the environment with the needs of our plants.’