Many of us would love to live a more organic lifestyle but it may seem too expensive or too overwhelming. Having a limited budget or not being sure where to start or what to prioritize can hold us back.
As an organization we love including organic ingredients in our products and we support organic certification of products.
As a family we want the best for the health of our children, ourselves and our planet.
That being said, we are also pragmatists who understand that while we might love a complete overhaul, switching everything we eat, drink and apply to our skin to be 100% certified organic, that might not always be possible.
The reality for most of us is balancing our desire for organic products with our weekly grocery budget. So where to start?
The first 8 steps anyone can take towards living a more organic life (on a budget)
Where to start will be different for each of us and depends on many factors but the most important thing is to start somewhere!
1. Try switching one food group at a time
For example you could start with vegetables, wheat-based products (bread, pasta, etc), or dairy. You may like to start with what you consume most of or what you are most concerned about. A nutritionist we spoke to recently suggested families with young children may like to start with switching to organic dairy products. Children typically eat a lot of dairy (cheese, yoghurt, milk) plus cows are often intensively farmed and pumped full of of antibiotics so it may make sense to start there.
2. Buy direct from producers
Buying organic food doesn’t have to cost more. In our experience it depends very much on where you shop. Buying direct from organic farms or from a local produce market can be much cheaper than from a supermarket.
Producers who sell in markets may not necessarily carry organic certification but they may still produce by organic methods. Get to know your local producers and enquire about the methods they use.
Here in the UK certified organic vegetable box delivery schemes are very popular. Each week we love receiving our box of fresh, organic fruit and veg, delivered to our doorstep.
Community supported agriculture (CSA) is another popular option, as many CSAs will subscribe to organic farming methods even if they don’t carry the certification.
“CSA is a partnership between farmers and consumers… [Consumers] provide support that goes beyond a straightforward marketplace exchange of money for goods. This involvement may be through ownership or investment in the farm or business, sharing the costs of production, accepting a share in the harvest or providing labour.” (Source: https://communitysupportedagriculture.org.uk/what-is-csa/)
Here are some links about CSA projects around the world:
3. Consider certified or not
With so many products claiming to be organic, and the word organic being used freely and without regulation how does a consumer know what is truly organic or not?
The beauty industry in particular is rife with ‘greenwashing’.
According to the Soil Association, “Packaging can trick us by using words like ‘organic’, ‘eco’, ‘botanic’, ‘pure’ and ‘natural’, whilst containing near to no ingredients to back up that claim.” (Source: 5 tips to avoid greenwashing)
That’s where certification makes things really easy for consumers. Organic certification bodies have strict standards that producers need to adhere to and only award certification and use of their logo to producers that meet these.
Some examples are USDA National Organic Program (USA), Soil Association (UK), and Australian Certified Organic (Australia).
Certification allows consumers to buy with trust and confidence.
We support organic certification bodies, their vision and mission. As an organization we even donate every year to the Soil Association.
That being said the cost of certification can be prohibitive for some producers or small-scale artisan manufacturers. If you buy direct, as described above, you may be satisfied by hearing directly about the methods used and to buy products that lack a certification logo.
4. Grow your own
You may have the time, space and skills to grow lots of your own food (if so we are envious!). But you may not. Even so you can start small at home by growing herbs, salad leaves or sprouting seeds. Consider growing small plants that have a big impact – eg flavorful mint, thyme or basil can transform a meal.
5. Choosing organic leave-on vs. rinse-off skincare products
The purpose of a leave-on skincare product is, just as it says, for it to be left on the skin and for much of it to be absorbed. Leave-on products include moisturizers like creams, lotions, butters and oils.
The purpose of a rinse-off product is, as it says, to rinse it off. Yes it will come into contact with your skin, but only for a short time and therefore less is likely to be absorbed. Rinse-off products include things like body wash, shower gel and hand soap.
If you are on a limited budget and want to buy organic skincare products, you could start with those leave-on products that are more likely to be absorbed by your skin.
6. Buy artisan beauty products
Smaller scale artisan or independent skincare producers (like some of our students) may not carry organic certification due to the cost being prohibitive in the early stages of a business. But lots of them still use a high percentage (or even solely) organic ingredients. Talk to brand owners and understand what goes in their products.
8. Get out into nature!
We believe living an organic lifestyle isn’t just about what we consume and apply but also our environment and how we live. Especially as many of us live in polluted cities, getting some real fresh air is even more important. Take a walk in a forest or a park, visit the ocean, volunteer at an organic garden. The combination of some gentle exercise, fresh air and sunshine is bound to leave you feeling enlivened. Being in nature is also extremely good for our mental health. You can read more about the benefits of ‘tree time’ here. Enjoy!
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