Peat moss is a commonly used growing medium and soil amendment in the horticultural industry in the US, and it is estimated that the US is one of the largest importers of Canadian peat moss. According to a report by the US Geological Survey, the US imported 706,000 metric tons of peat in 2019, much of which is likely used in horticulture.
It’s worth noting that while peat moss has been a popular growing medium for many years, there is a growing awareness of the negative environmental impacts of peat mining and peatland destruction, and many gardeners and horticultural professionals are exploring alternatives to peat moss. This shift towards more sustainable practices and materials is likely to impact the sales of peat moss in the future.
Peatlands, which are the natural habitat for peat moss, are important ecosystems that provide a range of benefits such as carbon storage, water regulation, and biodiversity. When peat moss is harvested, it often involves removing the top layer of the peat bog, which can damage or destroy the underlying peat layers, and the delicate ecosystem that peatlands support.
In addition, the extraction of peat moss can release large amounts of carbon dioxide into the atmosphere. Peatlands store vast amounts of carbon in their soil, and when they are disturbed, this carbon can be released in the form of greenhouse gases.
Furthermore, peatlands are often drained for agriculture or forestry purposes, which can also have negative environmental impacts. Draining the land dries out the peat, making it more susceptible to fire and releasing even more carbon into the atmosphere.
Some countries have already introduced bans or restrictions on the harvesting of peat moss in order to protect their peatlands and reduce greenhouse gas emissions. In 2019, the large garden center chain, Lowe’s, announced that it would stop selling peat moss in its stores by the end of 2020. The decision was made as part of the company’s larger commitment to sustainability and reducing its environmental impact. Instead of peat moss, Lowe’s will offer alternative products like coconut coir and composted pine bark.
Similarly, in 2020, the Chicago Botanic Garden announced that it would no longer use peat moss in its horticultural operations, and that it would encourage its visitors and other garden centers to do the same. The garden cited the environmental impacts of peat mining and peatland destruction as the main reasons for the decision.
These examples demonstrate that there is a growing awareness and concern about the environmental impacts of peat moss and a shift towards more sustainable alternatives. Care to learn more? Check out this article from Treehugger.com.
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