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Is Oat Milk Bad For The Environment?

The new wave of plant milk 🥛

The environmental impact of dairy farming is becoming increasingly well-known and researched.

As an industry it produces 50 billion tonnes of carbon dioxide per year, accounting for almost double the entire global aviation industry.

As a result, more and more people are switching to plant-based milk alternatives like oat milk to reduce their carbon footprint

Oat milk is the UK's favourite plant-based variety, but is it any better for the environment?

Oat milk on a table next to other sustainable alternatives

Just how bad is dairy for the environment?

To help us determine whether oat milk is "good" or "bad" for the environment, we first need to explore the environmental impact of dairy, so we can effectively make a judgement. 

We'll also be breaking down all the figures on a per litre basis for easy comparison.

The three main indicators we'll be exploring are carbon emissions, water usage and land usage. Let's begin!

On the carbon emissions front, dairy milk produces 3.2kg per litre of milk produced. This is roughly equivalent to an 18 mile car journey.

In terms of water, it is pretty intensive requiring 628 litres of water per litre of milk produced. This is equivalent to the amount of water needed for 8 baths. Yes! You read that right.

Finally, on land use, dairy farming requires around 9 square meters of land per litre of milk produced. 

How does oat milk compare to dairy milk? 🌱

The good news is that oat milk has a much lower environmental impact in comparison to dairy milk on all three indicators. Yay!

1️⃣ Carbon Emissions 

  • Oat milk = 0.9kg per litre
  • Dairy milk = 3.2kg per litre
  • That's a 72% decrease!

2️⃣ Water Usage

  • Oat milk = 48L per litre
  • Dairy milk = 628L per litre
  • That's a 92% decrease!

3️⃣ Land Usage

  • Oat milk = 0.8sqm per litre
  • Dairy milk = 9sqm per litre
  • That's a 91% decrease.

is oat milk good or bad for the environment?

    While oat milk is not perfect and still produces some carbon emissions, it is vastly better for the environment than dairy milk. 

    By switching from dairy to oat milk you are making a positive change.

    When we consider that the average adult consumes 50 litres of milk a year. Just one person switching from dairy to oat milk realises a saving of 115kg of CO2 & 29,000 litres of water.

    In addition to the indicators we've explored, farming oats also doesn’t cause significant damage to soil or natural ecosystems.

    This is especially true when compared to other milk alternatives such as soy which has been linked to deforestation and soil pollution

    We've provided the below handy comparison of other plant milks so you can make the most informed choice. 

    Environmental impact of other plant-based milks ☁️

    Is oat milk bad for the environment, sustainability table vs. other milks

    There isn’t one plant milk which leads in every category, so it’s difficult to determine which can be classed as “the most sustainable".

    Whilst almond and rice milk contribute slightly fewer greenhouse gases, they rely on heavy water usage. 

    Similarly, soy performs well on emissions and water, but it has been associated with deforestation and wide scale use of pesticides.

    How can the impact of oat milk be reduced?

    A significant part of the environmental impact of oat milk lies within its packaging. Tetra Pak cartons are multi-layered so only 29.5% end up being recycled.

    This is why launched Overherd oat milk powder which cuts packaging by 90% and is one of the most sustainable milks you can choose. 

    Save fridge space | Say bye to off milk | Reduce packaging | Reduce carbon footprint | I'm getting dizzy