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  • July 07, 2021 3 min read

    What Milk is The Most Sustainable Choice for You?

    Undecided on what milk is best for you? Wondering what milk choice is more sustainable? Read our tips on what might be the best choice.

    The Modern Milkscape

    Plant milks have been a popular choice in recent times, often being a viable choice to mitigate one’s dairy intake. They have also been a great choice for vegan diets, reducing environmental impacts of dairy milk, as well as to promote health benefits of choosing non-dairy milk substitutes.
    Some of the most common non-dairy milk substitutes are soy, oat, almond, rice, coconut and macadamia nut milk. Further information of these non-dairy milks is mentioned in the latter-half of this blog.


    Organic Milk

    In addition to plant-based milks, there has been an increase in demand for organic dairy milk. Organic dairy milk boasts a longer shelf life, as opposed to regular milk. This is due to organic milk being sterilized at higher temperatures. This allows consumers to store organic milk for up to two months.[i]
    Organic milk tends to have a higher proportion of Omega-3 fatty acids. Omega-3 fatty acids can help reduce cardiovascular disease, promote neurological performance.[i]


    What are Some Drawbacks of Organic Milk?
    In Australia, there is no requirement for sales domestically of organic products to have mandatory certification that they are organic. However, many businesses will look to be certified under organic certification bodies. This is usually to comply with labelling requirements and to enhance consumer confidence.[ii]
    Such standards tend to be maintained and developed by private organisations. If a business advertises and labels its products as certified organic, then under the Australian Standard (Australian Standard for Organic and biodynamic products, AS 6000-2015), the product must be actually certified as being organic.[iii]


    Environmental Impacts of Milk Types

    Research undertaken by Science,[iv] looked into the environmental impacts of different milk types per litre. Rice, soy, oat and almond milk have smaller greenhouse footprints as opposed to cow’s milk. However, multiple factors come in to consideration when determining what may be more sustainable.




    Land and Water Use:
    Rice-based milk requires the least land use (square metres), with soy, oat, and almond milk closely behind. Land use for cow’s milk is more than 10 times greater than plant-based milks (listed below).
    Water use is very significant for rice-based, almond and cow’s milk. Soy and oat milk demonstrated less water use for production.



    What’s More Sustainable Overall?

    If sustainably-made milk is what you desire, then milks with the least carbon emissions, land use and water use (combining factors) would be soy and oat milk. There are trade-offs when it comes to choosing which milk is most sustainable for use. Although almond milk tends to have lower carbon emissions (kilograms) and low land use, water required to produce almond milk is proportionally not much better than cow’s milk, when contrasted to other non-dairy milk types.

    Further Reading:



    [i] Zivkovic AM, Telis N, German JB, Hammock BD. Dietary omega-3 fatty acids aid in the modulation of inflammation and metabolic health. Calif Agric (Berkeley). 2011;65(3):106-111.  doi:10.3733/ca.v065n03p106



    [iv] Poore, Joseph, and Thomas Nemecek. "Reducing food’s environmental impacts through producers and consumers." Science 360.6392 (2018): 987-992.