Published 2 years ago.
About a 3 minute read.
While peatlands cover only 3% of our land, they store 30% of the world’s soil carbon. And the popularity of peat in commercial potting soils means that peatlands, or bogs, are rapidly disappearing. Back to the Roots aimed to give conscientious home gardeners a solution.
As the home-gardening movement booms in popularity, a ‘dirty’ little secret
from the industry has come to light: peat. The mining of
peat — a common ingredient central to most store-bought potting soils — has had
a devastating impact on our climate, accounting for nearly 6 percent of all
human-made greenhouse gas emissions.
That’s the challenge that Back to the Roots, the
millennial gardening company known for its indoor and at-home gardening
kits and USA-grown
set out to solve with its new, peat-free potting
— the first nationally available, premium potting mix of its kind. The soil
launched in Walmart stores across the country in May.
While peatlands cover only 3 percent of the Earth’s land, they store 30 percent
of the world’s soil carbon. And the popularity of peat in commercially
manufactured potting soil means that peatlands, or bogs — which have their own
important role to play in our ecosystem — are rapidly disappearing. Globally,
mined peatlands contribute to over one billion metric tons of CO2 emissions per
year — nearly equivalent to the emissions of all the cars in the world combined.
“If we do it the right way — without the toxic chemicals and carbon-emitting
peat — gardening and growing our own food can be one of the most sustainable
things any of us can do,” said Back to the Roots Co-CEO Nikhil Arora. “We
want to help empower a new generation of gardeners with the tools that are not
just best for their plants, but best for the planet, too.”
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In formulating the soil, Back to the Roots was challenged with avoiding peat
while still offering competitive moisture-holding capacity and performance for
growers. To make sure it was able to retain water as well as any peat-centric
soil, the Back to the Roots team included coconut
fibers — an upcycled waste stream from the coconut industry — and a natural
saponin extract, from the drought-resistant yucca plant, in their formula.
“This new potting mix gives millennial gardeners a professional-grade blend
without the devastating impact to our peatlands and climate,” said Back to the
Roots co-CEO Alejandro Velez. “This next generation of gardeners wants to
grow — but they also want to know that their dollars aren’t accelerating climate
The pair were inspired to add a soil line to their offerings after experimenting
with soil blends for their indoor grow kits. They’d been perfecting their soils
for years — and customers were noticing.
“We had so many people reach out and ask how they could buy our soil in bulk,”
Velez said. “Obsessing over the best soil for our gardening community has always
been a huge part of our work behind the scenes. We’re just bringing it front and
center now, and making it available to gardeners everywhere.”
Arora describes the peat-free soil as a “natural progression” of the gardening
company’s product lines.
“For years, we’ve been on a mission to bring organic gardening to every kid and
family across the country, and help people grow everywhere and everything — no
matter your experience or space,” Arora said. “We’re excited to inspire a new
generation to get into the garden!”
Published Jun 8, 2021 2pm EDT / 11am PDT / 7pm BST / 8pm CEST