Gardeners are being encouraged to go even greener this year by supporting the national £10 million multi-media recycling campaign and using reduced peat and peat-free products in the garden.

Gardening gurus, top sporting personalities and television celebrities such as Chris Beardshaw, Matthew Pinsent and Alistair McGowan are among those who have pledged their support for Recycle Now. It is now time for the green-fingered gardener to help the environment by learning about the benefits of recycling their garden waste and at the same time buying products for the garden that contain these recycled materials.

WRAP (the Waste & Resources Action Programme), which is spearheading the campaign on behalf of the Government, aims to provide gardeners with the
information to enable them to recycle and to make an informed choice about buying recycled products. Their research confirmed that while compost is one of the top purchases made by amateur gardeners (97% buy compost), less than half of them (43%) actually know what is in the bag they are buying. Many reduced peat and peat-free products contain recycled materials. Encouragingly, more than 90% said they would be keen to learn about recycled materials and would be likely to consider using reduced peat and peat-free products if they knew more.*

Millions of tonnes of garden waste, such as grass cuttings, prunings and leaves which could be recycled into composts, are sent to landfill sites each year, using over 20 million cubic metres of space in our countryside that's the equivalent to filling the Royal Albert Hall with grass, twigs and leaves more than 70 times over. And as lifestyle changes see gardening becoming ever more popular, the amount of garden waste generated will continue to rise.**

The Government - which has set a target that 90% of composts and soil improvers sold in the UK should be peat-free by 2010 - hopes that by encouraging the use of recycling centres***, the garden waste we produce can be used in the production of high quality reduced peat and peat-free composts which in turn will be bought back by enlightened gardeners.

Retailer Support
The support of DIY stores and garden centres across the country is also helping in the campaign to change both attitudes and behaviour. Claire Cooper, social responsibility manager at B&Q, says that over the last two years it has been working with its growing media suppliers to implement a peat dilution strategy: "By the end of last year we had increased peat alternative by volume to 43% (from 31% at the end of 2001). We are also a committed supporter of the development of alternatives, especially recycled garden waste."

Celebrity Support

TV gardening celebrity Chris Beardshaw is a keen supporter of the campaign. Throughout the year he will be hosting events at garden centres across the country on behalf of WRAP to inform people of the benefits of using recycled composts.

Chris says: "I'm delighted to be given the opportunity to discuss the benefits of using reduced peat and peat free composts. For generations great gardeners have known the value of making best use of a sustainable source of rich organic matter, as it not only improves the soil structure but also aids the retention of moisture and nutrients all of which helps our
garden plants to thrive."

Anne O'Brien, head of organics at WRAP, says: "It is really important we do everything we can to try and reduce the amount of garden waste sent landfill. We should be encouraging more people to think carefully about the environment and the double contribution they can make by both recycling their garden waste and buying composts that contain recycled material."

Quality Product

And these new products actually do work. Trials carried out by horticulturalists at nurseries across the country, involving 185 species and 8,000 plants, have shown that the new breed of composts can match the performance of traditional peat-based products, so there is a real opportunity to go greener!

One of the largest garden centres in the Midlands - Hollybush Garden Centre in Shareshill, Wolverhampton - has been using recycled compost to grow all its products - from rooted cuttings to trees - for the past three years and next year, Chelsea Flower Show will be going totally green by asking all designers to use peat free products in their garden displays.

We would love to hear from 'green' gardeners who are having success with reduced peat and peat-free products. Please send your stories to Ali Phillips at Ptarmigan Consultants, Airedale House, 423 Kirkstall Road, Leeds LS19 7EZ or email

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