There is not a straightforward yes/no answer to this question. Coconut coir is used as a replacement for peat moss. They both have advantages and disadvantages. In this post, I will share what we have learned about coconut coir vs peat moss. Based on what we learned, we asked a lot of questions to our contact at Bionova. I will add some specific Bionova information at the end of the post.

peat moss

Close up of peat moss

what is peat moss?

Peat moss is harvested from bogs. It is a layer of plants that have been decomposing for many years that is scraped off the surface of our planet.

the problems with peat moss

Peat moss has several issues:

  • The plants that form the peat contain carbon. When the peat is removed, the carbon is released into the atmosphere. This contributes to the climate crisis we’re currently in.
  • The beautiful bogs are destroyed, and the wildlife that uses them as their habitat is affected.
  • It is not compostable.

coconut coir

Pile of coconut coir

what is coconut coir?

Coconut coir is a byproduct of the coconut industry. Coconuts are grown for their inside, i.e. the coconut milk and flesh. Once these are removed, the husk of the coconut is transformed into a pulp. Part of the pulp will consist of fibres that can, for example, be used as doormats. The rest of the pulp is dust-like and will be transformed into coconut coir.

the advantages of coconut coir

Coconut coir has some advantages:

  • It is made from a byproduct of the coconut industry.
  • It is compostable.
  • It is pressed into small bricks and thus efficient to transport compared to the big bags of peat moss.

the problems with coconut coir

Unfortunately, coconut coir also has some considerable downsides:

  • Coconut coir is a dust-like material. Depending on the working conditions, this can cause respiratory problems for the workers.
  • The washing of coconut coir uses a lot of water in regions that already have difficult access to clean water. On top of that, a lot of factories pollute the area by releasing the used water.
  • It is shipped all the way from Sri Lanka to Europe.
  • It comes wrapped in plastic.

bionova cocobricks

After extensive research, we decided to use and sell Bionova Cocobricks.

One of the reasons we like Bionova as a supplier is because we can have a very open dialogue with them. So far, they have always provided us with all the information we needed, even when it wasn’t necessarily what we wanted to hear.

This is the additional information they gave us about their coco bricks:

  • Working conditions: Unfortunately the workers don't use protective masks. We were told that they are not concerned about it.
  • Water usage: We checked with our contact at Bionova. We were happy to learn that the factory they work with uses rainwater. They filter the water after using it and then reuse it.
  • Packaging: Bionova checked if it’s possible to move away from plastic to, for example, paper. As this product absorbs even the humidity in the air, this is not possible.

our conclusion

Based on the information we have and the conditions in the factory Bionova uses to produce the coconut coir, we decided that coconut coir is the more sustainable alternative for us.