The last time I got in to the peat argument here, I was pilloried for it. As a flower show exhibitor I need to be well versed in this argument, especially when faced with a representative of the metropolitan let's drive a Prius and crap in the woods club; those who feel that as long as nothing falls within their own tunnel vision, then they'll save the planet by driving an electric car. Start asking where the electricity comes from, and you can see the tell-tale beads of sweat breaking out across their Nivea softened brows.
I don't believe the sale of peat will end. Let's put things into perspective. Only a couple of percent of peat extracted is used in horticulture, nearly all of it is burnt in power stations (Ireland, Russia, China, Finland, Argentina etc.)
Hold the line...Mr Sanctimonious who was looking down his nose at me for using peat only a few seconds ago, looks concerned. They didn't mention peat fired power stations in The Guardian? No, but he'll fight his corner anyway, he knows he's right, he always is, Cressida told him so.
'They don't burn peat' he says with a shake of his head and a knowing smile, though I can see a flicker of doubt on the next wave that threatens to wash him out to deeper waters.
'Are you carnivorous, like my friends here?' I ask, waving nonchalantly towards the botanical friends on my display.
He looks confused at the Sarracenia, then back to me.
'Well, I-I just wondered what you ate, and guessed vegetables were off the menu.'
'What the hell's that got to do with it?' he asks. Cressida touches his arm, perhaps for re-assurance that he has support against this troglodyte, perhaps to brush away a speck of gluten free muesli stuck like a barnacle to his arm.
I go on. 'Well, as most of the peat used in UK horticulture goes into peat plugs for vegetable production, I assumed you boycotted eating vegetables.'
That's got him, Cressida's now pulling at the arm. Before I have the chance to ask what car he drives, the amount of residual waste in his bin every two weeks which is sent to landfill, or indeed (as has been mentioned here), if he checks the ingredients of his weekly Waitrose shop for the presence of palm oil, he's gone, whisked away for a skinny organic lactose free latte to recover.
I don't even get the chance to tell him to make sure he recycles the cup afterwards.
My point is, peat is renewable, BUT before you choke on your tea, at such a pace as it should be considered finite. There are far, far, far bigger consumers of the stuff, and although we can all start small, the bigger picture is far more frightening. The palm oil issue being one of them. I argued this at one of our council meetings with a green party member. He wanted us to force our contractor to use a hot foam weed killer. Glastonbury town council had purchased one, and he was singing its praises as it uses no chemicals. It also doesn't work as it only kills the top growth, but that's another matter. When I asked what the foam was produced from, he replied 'it's just palm oil'.
Well, there can't be too many nasty wicked members from my team, who could say they'd beaten a green at their own game. Suffice to say, we kicked the idea into the long grass.
Whilst I agree that if we all club together we can achieve great things, when we're talking about a relatively tiny group of hobbyists, even if we all went peat free, it would I'm afraid achieve nothing. Unless we can lobby governments to close, rather than open peat fired power stations, nothing will change, and even if they did, what will they use instead, coal? Now that's another issue altogether.
I endorse growers who want to go peat free, and good luck to them, but feel it's more a case of feeling good about ones actions, rather than making any tangible difference.