Centre for Behaviour Change


Applying behavioural science to change gardening practices and support the transition to peat-free

Changing purchasing and gardening behaviours, to contribute towards policy-initiated peat-free horticulture targets.

A woman holding soil

1 July 2024


Key facts

PhD project

Title: Applying behavioural science to design strategies to change gardening practices and support the transition to peat-free

Funder: Royal Horticultural Society (RHS)

CBC Doctoral Student: Zoe Upton

CBC Supervisors: Dr Fabiana Lorencatto, Dr Lucy Porter

Start date: 2024

The RHS together with the Centre for Behaviour Change are on a mission to systematically design behaviour change interventions that support the transition to peat-free gardening practices, a crucial step towards a more sustainable future.

Why this research is important

Peat is the most widely used growing media due to its performance and low economic cost. However, peat extraction for horticultural use releases stored carbon, threatens biodiversity and increases flood risk. In recognition of peat's contribution to the climate crisis, in March 2023 the UK government announced new policies and targets to restrict the use of peat-based compost over the coming years. One of the biggest challenges to address in the transition to peat-free will be behaviour change at different levels; specifically industry, producers, and consumers. This PhD project focuses on the behaviour of consumers, in this case gardeners. The aim is to apply behavioural science frameworks to understand barriers and enablers to changing purchasing and gardening behaviours. We will co-design interventions to support consumers in changing their gardening practices and contribute towards the peat-free horticulture targets in line with new policies.

Find out more

Email Zoe: zoe.upton.21@ucl.ac.uk