Wednesday, 16 May 2007

Organic milk at any price?


This is my first attempt at blogging and I would like to get your help. Like a lot of people in the UK, our family is trying to make ends meet and we want to make sure we live as healthily, ethically and sustainably as we can.

In this blog, I would like your help in cutting through the unhelpful hype or misguided stuff on ethical and sustainable living, sometimes called the "greenwash".

It seems to me that the choices of what to do, what to buy are numerous and not straightforward. A recent example for us is whether to have organic milk delivered or regular milk. We have a toddler and the motivation to buy organic milk is strong.

We found out that the organic milk is supplied in tetra paks rather than glass bottles. Healthwise, there seems to be a strong consensus on the benefits of organic milk but buying the milk in this type of packaging concerns us.

In Norfolk there is a scheme to recycle tetra paks. When I contacted the City Council in Norwich, I was told that the pilots were successful, with 5.15 tonnes of waste not being added to landfill between February 2006 and April 2007. The scheme is available in my area and 5 out of 18 sites in Norfolk now recycle this type of waste.

My concern is that the tetra paks are recycled at a facility outside the UK (Norway I think?), and may involve transportation to a mill in Fife, Scotland before they are shipped overseas.

Is all this effort to avoid adding the waste to landfill and paying more landfill tax worth it? The transportation and processing costs, as well as the CO2 generated cannot be helping matters.

It is difficult to know what to do for the best. I have seen a bit of a debate on this in the It's Not Easy Being Green Forum and in a post on the How To Be Green blog, and certainly Tetra Pak promote themselves as being very environmentally responsible and espouse the benefits of their packaging.
We would like to buy organic milk and have it delivered to our doorstep but not if the costs are too high.

What would you do or what do you think?
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