• CCA Pulse Magazine

Got Oatmilk? | Aerin Flaharty

Nowadays it’s normal to order such a thing as a skinny, no foam, sugar-free, latte at your local coffee shop. For the minimalists, a simple black coffee will do. However, there are many milk alternatives to explore taste wise and for their environmental impacts. So without further ado, here at the most common milk types and dairy substitutes used at coffee shops throughout the country, ranked on how much they impact the environment.

#1 – Cows Milk: There is no question that cows and unsustainable dairy farming have been a leading factor in global warming. Cows produce many different products, but they also contaminate too much methane into the atmosphere and require lots of land, which means less nature and more industrialization. No matter the type of cow’s milk, whether it be 2%, fat-free, or whole, this dairy product is not eco-friendly whatsoever.

#2 – Almond milk: Almond milk quickly became an easily accessible and new milk alternative in past years. It seemed much better than cow’s milk. It was plant-based and sounded as if it isn’t harmful to our planet. But when you look deeper into the process of making this beverage, it isn’t just some easy milk substitute to produce. Almond milk requires about 1611 gallons of water to produce one liter. While almond milk appears to be a more thoughtful alternative, it definitely does not prove to be one of the best.

#3 – Rice Milk: Similar to almond milk, the problem with almond milk is the same. Rice milk requires lots of water in order to be produced. To be exact, the ratio is 54 liters of water to 1 glass of rice milk. While rice and almond beverages require less water than cow’s milk, this is still not sustainable milk to keep manufacturing.

#4 – Soy Milk: Soy milk is another popular plant-based milk substitute. While the amount of water soybeans uses in the production of milk is about one-tenth of the amount used for almond or rice milk, the problem with soymilk is that it is made from destroying land. Studies show that vast amounts of the Amazon rainforest have been destroyed in order to obtain soybeans. Even though soymilk is not as popular as other plant-based options, it still causes major harm to the environment.

#5 – Coconut milk: Coconut milk is a safer alternative than the previously listed ones. The water emissions are low, land usage is not as sizable, the products from the fruit range, and coconuts are easy to produce. The one thing to consider when buying coconuts is to make sure they are fair trade. Many families in countries such as India, Indonesia, and the Philippines who farm coconuts are often underpaid and live in bad working conditions. When coconut products are bought fair trade, it prevents the mistreatment and exploitation of people living in the areas across the world in which they grow.

#6 – Oatmilk: Oat Milk has currently been building its reputation for being the most popular milk substitute in recent months. It obtains a rich taste, velvety texture and is much more environmentally sustainable compared to other types of plant-based milk. In a study conducted by the vegan Swedish brand “Oatly”, oat milk resulted in 80% lower greenhouse gas emissions as well as 60% less energy required compared to dairy milk. This is a farther stretch than almond or cow’s milk, making oat milk the most environmentally sound milk choice.

The background information for these common milk options is important, so people know how their choices affect the environment when they drink their daily coffee or even use simple household products. So the next time you stop by your local coffee shop for a drink, consider trying oatmilk and make the healthy choice for your body and your planet.

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