It’s Organic September, a month that has always felt like the unofficial new year. Maybe it’s because September marks the start of the academic calendar or because the trees start shedding their leaves in preparation for new growth. Either way, Organic September feels like the perfect time to set ourselves new resolutions. If one of your goals, like ours, is to lead a more organic lifestyle, then look no further. This guide will tell you everything you need to know about organic living.
What is organic living?
Organic living is a lifestyle dedicated to making healthier choices, both for yourself and the environment. It revolves around prioritising organic products wherever possible, including food, clothes and toiletries.
So, what is organic?
Organic refers to the way a product is farmed or produced. Organic farmers must meet strict standards to ensure the sustained health of soils, ecosystems, animals and people. In practice, this means banning the use of chemical pesticides, herbicides and fungicides - the first of which is a key driver of global insect declines - and using a limited number of naturally-derived pesticides as a last resort.. Organic farmers similarly avoid synthetic fertilisers, instead building fertile soils naturally by using compost and animal manure, rotating crops and using clover and legumes to ‘fix’ nitrogen. The list of banned processes does not stop there! Antibiotics, wormers, genetic modification, additives and processing aids, artificial food colourings and preservatives are all prohibited in organic food.
Unlike ‘natural’, organic is a protected term that is subject to legal regulation. To qualify for the organic label, at least 95% of food or drink ingredients must derive from organically produced plants or animals. These ingredients must also be approved by an independent certification body. When shopping for organic food, look out for the Social Association logo. As the UK’s largest organic certification body, they certify over 70% of organic food sold in the UK.
What is Organic September?
Organic September is an annual campaign that celebrates the incredible benefits organic farming can bring for our climate, nature and our health. Set up by the Soil Association, this awareness month encourages us to consume and produce more organic products. In their own words, “with more of us seeking to make choices that minimise our impact on nature and the planet, there’s never been a better time to be a part of the organic movement.”
What are the benefits of organic living?
Where to begin! Good for you and the planet, organic living has so many environmental benefits. In the face of climate change, organic farming cultivates soil that is resilient to warming weather. Not only does organic farmland store more carbon, the soil holds up to twice as much water which helps protect against both flooding and drought. Organic farming also lowers environmental pollution by banning fossil-fuel derived pesticides and fertilisers. It similarly lowers emissions; if European farmers all followed organic principles, agricultural emissions could drop 40-50% by 2050.
Organic farming has the highest animal welfare standards of any international farming system. These standards ensure that animals are truly-free range, reared with plenty of space and fresh air, and raised in conditions that suit their natural behavior, including smaller flocks. The surrounding wildlife also benefits, with insect and bird life around 50% more abundant on organic farms and attracting up to 75% more wild bees. When more than 1 in 10 of Britain’s wildlife species are currently facing extinction, organic farming could help to reverse this decline
Last but not least, organic living is great for us! Organic food is often fresher and more nutritious. A 2014 study found that organic milk and meat contained around 50% more beneficial omega-3 fatty acids than non-organic. What’s more, organically produced cereals, fruit and vegetables had up to 68% more antioxidants than non-organic. The health benefits here are undeniable.
5 ways to lead a more organic lifestyle
1) Opt for organic produce
When we think of organic, the first thing we think of is food. Luckily, organic food isn’t hard to come by in the supermarket. Fruit and veg is cheapest and freshest when it's in season. Shopping seasonally also supports the local economy and reduces the air miles from farm to table. A trip to the nearest farmer’s market is a great way to learn how your food is grown (plus tasty produce, of course!) If there isn’t one local, you could subscribe to an organic meat or wonky veg box. Check out the Social Association’s box scheme listings to find a delivery near you.
2) Grow your own food
Whether you’re a novice gardener or expertly green-fingered, growing your own food is a brilliant way to affordably source nutritious and healthy produce. Plus, you know exactly what is on your plate! Here’s a helpful guide on growing at home, with tips on using peat-free compost and growing pollinator-friendly plants.
3) Wear organic cotton
We know a lot about this one! We only use OCS-certified organic cotton for five reasons: it’s biodegradable, as well as softer, more durable, less water intensive and less polluting than conventionally grown cotton. Grown without harmful pesticides and coloured with azo-free low impact dyes, the production of our cotton doesn’t contaminate local waterways or put farmers’ health at risk. Wear your values and browse our range of organic clothing here.
4) Ditch non-organic toiletries
Take your organic lifestyle one step further by investing in organic toiletries. You can ease your way in with organic soaps and lipsticks or dive head first with organic menstrual products. Here’s everything you need to know before building your organic beauty routine.
5) Switch to organic cleaning products
The last thing to switch out is chemical cleaning products for reusable natural alternatives that are free of phosphates and phthalates. Bonus points if you make your own - FYI baking soda, lemon juice, salt and white vinegar can all be used to clean around the house just as effectively, cheaply and much more safely than some brand-name products!